Report: Spurs allow Jonathon Simmons to become unrestricted free agent

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The Spurs held tremendous leverage over Jonathon Simmons.

He was an Arenas Rule-limited restricted free agent, meaning his starting salary in an offer sheet couldn’t exceed $8,406,000 (though the third and fourth years could be balloon payments up to the max). His qualifying offer was a miniscule $1,671,382, and even if he accepted it, he’d be restricted again next summer (though without Arenas limitations).

Yet, San Antonio reportedly prepared an offer of $9 million annually. Somehow, negotiations have gone awry.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This suggests the Spurs didn’t actually renounce Simmons, but just rescinded his qualifying offer. That’d make him an unrestricted free agent whose Early Bird Rights are still held by San Antonio.

The Spurs have operated as an over-the-cap team and will likely continue to do so. They could carve out $7,693,651 in space, which would also grant the $4,328,000 room exception. But they’d still need to re-sign Manu Ginobili and Pau Gasol with cap room, the room exception and/or minimum contracts. As an over-the-cap team maintaining Ginobili’s Bird Rights and Gasol’s Non-Bird Rights (technically a form of Bird Rights), San Antonio could pay Ginobili up to the max and Gasol up to $18.6 million starting.

In other words, this was probably just a favor to Simmons. It’s hard to see an advantage the Spurs gained by rescinding his qualifying offer.

I’m not even sure why they granted this favor if they still want to sign him themselves. Today is the last day teams can unilaterally withdraw a qualifying offer, but if they’re just trying to help Simmons, it’s not a real deadline. They could always pull the qualifying offer with his consent later.

I strongly doubt San Antonio feared Simmons accepting the qualifying offer – the usual reason for withdrawing it. Simmons returning on a $1,671,382 salary? That’d be great for the Spurs.

Simmons turns 28 before the season, so this could be his only chance at a big payday. He reached the NBA only after paying to participate in an open D-League tryout.

He’s an athletic wing in a league that can’t get enough of them. His defensive awareness is improving, and he can finish above the rim.

I get why the Spurs want to re-sign him. I don’t understand why they pulled his qualifying offer.