The San Antonio Spurs have agreed to a deal with backup point guard Patty Mills, bringing back a key member of their 2014 championship team, according to Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express News. The contract will be for three years and $12 million, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.
There was some doubt about Mills' future because he is expected to miss several months, including parts of next season, after surgery on an injured shoulder suffered during last season. But the Spurs value his contributions and decided to keep him anyway after he put together a career season on their ace bench unit.
A jet-quick point guard who can rain pull-up jumpers and play tough defense, Mills has a role on any team. But he was frequently out of shape earlier in his career and fell out of favor with Gregg Popovich. Before a critical contract year, he finally lost weight and beat out Nando de Colo and Cory Joseph for playing time behind Tony Parker. Mills took the job and ran with it, averaging over 10 points a game in just 19 minutes a contest. He had his moments in the playoffs, including 17 points on 5-8 from three-point range in San Antonio's Finals-clinching Game 5 win over Miami.
His new contract will pay him about 60 percent of the mid-level exception, which is fantastic value for a Spurs franchise that always finds a way to retain role players affordably. San Antonio still has tons of space under the luxury tax to retain fellow free agent Boris Diaw and even use its own mid-level exception to add another key player.
It's unclear if Mills' market would have been greater if not for his shoulder injury. The Knicks showed early interest, but backed away after dealing for Jose Calderon. If healthy, other teams may have viewed him as a starting-quality guard and driven his price up. Instead, Mills stayed with the Spurs on an appropriate salary for a backup.