Turns out the San Antonio Spurs’ point guard choice is the one they always had on their roster. They have agreed to re-sign Patty Mills on a four-year, $50 million deal, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Mills was expected to be one of the many free-agent point guards to switch teams next year, with the Spurs seemingly hunting for an upgrade at the position. Instead, he stays with the Spurs for about $12.5 million a season and should start at point guard before and perhaps even after Tony Parker recovers from a ruptured quad tendon.
The 28-year-old Mills averaged 9.5 points and 3.5 assists on 41 percent shooting in a reserve role for San Antonio last season. Had he not returned to San Antonio, he likely would have been a fallback option for several teams that whiffed on top free agent point guards. Instead, he’ll continue to serve as a perfect fit as a spot starter and reserve for Gregg Popovich.
What does Mills do well?
Shoot, defend 94 feet, and score in bunches. Mills isn’t a great playmaker for others and doesn’t get to the basket a ton, but he has a lightning-quick release and darts off screens to rise and fire from downtown. That makes him an excellent fit for Gregg Popovich’s motion offense.
Mills is the perfect super sub for the Spurs, equally capable of playing with other stars and carrying a second unit with scoring flurries. The Spurs outscored opponents by 12 points per 100 possessions with Mills in the game and just 4.4 with him on the bench.
This is a solid contract
Twelve-and-a-half million dollars a season is about what a lower-end starting point guard or ace backup earns. Last summer, Jeremy Lin signed a three-year, $36 million deal with the Nets. Lin was a year younger, but played a similar role in Charlotte the year before.
The mild surprise is that the Spurs elected not to upgrade the point guard position. Several reports linked them to George Hill, a former Spur and a favorite of Popovich. But once the Spurs failed to woo Chris Paul, they decided that Mills at that salary was preferable to backing up the brink trucks for Hill or any of the other free-agent point guards in the next tier.
But is Mills a starter or a reserve?
Over the past few years, it hasn’t mattered. Tony Parker has lorded over the position and Mills was able to spell him and step into slightly bigger roles as he aged.
But Parker is coming off a devastating injury and probably won’t stay with the Spurs beyond this year. The thought was that the Spurs would let Mills walk and seek a frontline starter to carry the position. Now, is Mills the full-time starter of the future? Or, is he simply keeping the seat warm until 2016 first-round pick DeJonte Murray develops?