San Antonio Spurs big man Tiago Splitter could be a top target of elite Spanish club Real Madrid this summer, according a Spanish report via Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News. Citing Cadena SER, a premier radio station in Spain, he describes "the bid as a long-shot."
Arguably the best player in Spain prior to arriving in the U.S. three years ago, Splitter emerged this season as the starting center for one of the league's best teams. A talented pick-and-roll player with strong defensive skills, he's proven to fit quite well next to future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan on San Antonio's front line.
Set to become a restricted free agent this summer, Splitter will likely be positioned for a hefty raise from his current $3.9 million salary. Should his salary reach closer to $10 million, something McCarney believes is possible, it's unlikely Real Madrid will be able to match his NBA contract offers.
The highest paid player on Real Madrid this season was Rudy Fernandez at a reported $3.9 million. At the very least, Splitter can receive $4.9 million in 2013-14 on a qualifying offer from San Antonio, so the Spanish club would presumably need to make him its highest-paid player to lure him in.
A Brazilian native, Splitter became a naturalized citizen of Spain in 2004. His wife is Spanish, as well, so his ties to the country could play into things. The big man averaged 10.3 points and 6.4 rebounds, both career-highs, in 81 games this season.