Deshaun Thomas famously refused to give the Spurs his phone number.
Now, he’s waiting to hear from them.
Despite his interview difficulty, San Antonio drafted Thomas with the No. 58 pick in 2013. The last two years, they offered him the required tender – a one-year contract, surely unguaranteed and at the league minimum, necessary to retain his rights. Both years, Thomas rejected it in favor of signing in Europe, allowing San Antonio to carry his rights another year.
But he’s apparently no longer willing to put off an NBA deal.
The Spurs have until tomorrow to offer Thomas the tender. If they don’t, he’ll immediately become an unrestricted free agent.
If he accepts the tender, he’ll either make the regular-season roster or he won’t. Either would get him closer to the NBA. San Antonio keeping him would obviously get him there immediately. But even if he’s waived, he could negotiate with all 30 NBA teams. As is, only the Spurs, who hold his draft rights, can sign him.
San Antonio has 13 players with guaranteed contracts plus Matt Bonner ($749,594 guaranteed), Jimmer Fredette ($507,711 guaranteed), Reggie Williams (unguaranteed) and Youssou Ndoye (unclear guarantee). Those are substantial guarantees for Bonner and Fredette. I think the odds of Thomas beating them in training camp for the final two regular-season roster spots are low.
But it’s obviously not impossible. The Spurs drafted Thomas, and the only way for them to get a return on that investment is bringing him to camp to compete for a regular-season roster spot.
There is a downside, though. Required tenders can’t include an Exhibit 9, which offers teams protection if a player gets hurt. If Thomas injures himself during training camp, his contract would become guaranteed until he can play again. San Antonio might determine Thomas’ odds of making the team are too low to warrant such a risk.
Thomas faces potential downside with this route, too. If the Spurs bring him to camp and waive him before the regular season, he won’t receive more than per diem. During that time, he could miss out on more-lucrative overseas options.
If Thomas wants to reach the NBA, though, this his best move. It’s on San Antonio to make a call.