HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — A lot of money is being thrown at free agent big men this summer.
Kevin Garnett is getting $34 million more from the Celtics. Roy Hibbert is getting a max deal from either the Blazers or Pacers. Omer Asik will be getting $25 million from the Rockets or Bulls. Ersan Ilyasova is getting $45 million from the Bucks. Ryan Anderson is getting about $35 million from the Hornets. And now it sounds like Brook Lopez is getting a max deal, whether he plays for the Nets or Magic next season.
So what would you say about the idea of paying $1.1 million for a big man who played almost 1,400 minutes for the best team in the league last season?
DeJuan Blair was a feel-good story for the San Antonio Spurs. He was taken 37th in the 2009 Draft and quickly became a contributor for a title contender, despite his lack of ACLs.
But Blair was replaced in the Spurs’ rotation by Boris Diaw late last season, and he played just 77 minutes in the playoffs. Then, there were reports that the Spurs might bring over Slovenian big man Erazem Lorbek next season, possibly pushing Blair further down the depth chart.
Lorbek looks to be re-signing with FC Barcelona, but Blair still thinks his days in San Antonio are numbered.
Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News caught up with Blair in Las Vegas, where the big man is putting in work for the U.S. Select Team:
Blair makes no attempt to hide his feelings when he discusses his diminished role in the playoffs, including his belief he might be better off elsewhere.
“I love the Spurs, but they’ve got a lot of ‘bigs,’ and they’re bringing somebody else from overseas, so where am I going to fall at?” he said. “I was out of the rotation at the end of the season, so imagine next year.
“That’s something I really don’t want to go through again, because it tore me down.”
Blair turned 23 as the post-lockout season concluded in late April. What has happened since requires maturity.
“The Spurs are excellent,” he said. “They used me to get everybody going and just get to the playoffs. That’s what it’s seemed like the last two seasons. But it’s a business, and everybody has their role, and I played mine, obviously, in the season. That’s proved right now.
“We were No. 1 the last two seasons when I was starting, and then lost in the playoffs when I wasn’t. That’s just, well, I don’t know, common sense.
“But I’ll be all right.”
Given Lorbek’s decision to stay in Europe and Diaw’s inconsistency, it might behoove the Spurs to hold onto Blair. And it’s hard to imagine they’ll get back equal value for a guy who’s slated to make less than $1.1 million next season.
But if the Spurs plan on bringing back the big man, it’s clear they’ll have some work to do in trying to repair his psyche.