Posted by Sekou Smith
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Free agency isn’t just about the marquee names.
This is also a time to celebrate the other guys, the role players, the glue guys that make a team go.
One of our favorites here at the hideout cashed in this week in San Antonio, though his singing was overshadowed a bit by Tiago Splitter finally making his way to the roster, a deal John Hollinger of ESPN calls the “best deal of the summer.”
Matt Bonner, also known as “The Sandwich Hunter,” signed a four-year, $16 million deal that allows him to continue his work on and off the court in the place he fits perfectly.
Bonner’s re-introductory media gathering lacked the pyrotechnics we saw in Miami last week, but for those of us that appreciate the game of role players like him around the league, his show (above) was most appropriate.
In the old days, Matt Bonner was a grounded man with simple tastes. But becoming filthy rich can change a person, and not even Bonner is immune to the trappings associated with a financial windfall.
So after signing the largest contract of his life Tuesday, the longtime Pontiac Grand Prix driver and delicatessen aficionado embarked on a new age of outlandish spending.
“When I splurge,” Bonner said, “I’m going to order double meat on my sandwich.”
Maybe he stopped short of cabanas on South Beach, but for Bonner, his new four-year Spurs deal — believed to be worth $16 million — was celebration enough. After four years in San Antonio, Bonner said his first choice when he became a free agent this summer was to stay put, and general manager R.C. Buford said bringing him back was a top priority.
Both sides just had to wait until the NBA’s free-agent dominos started to fall, starting with mega-prize LeBron James.
“Matt was just next,” Buford said in a deadpan perhaps inspired by his newest signee, “right after LeBron.”
Even if Bonner’s profile isn’t James-like — he averaged 7.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game last season — his production and efficiency have been quietly superb. Bonner, a floor-stretching 6-foot-10 sharpshooter who made $3.2 million last season, ranks among the NBA’s leaders in plus/minus rating, which measures how a team performs while the player is on the floor.