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Pau Gasol and the Spurs were going for a paycut. He's getting 3 years, $48 million instead

Gasol was supposed to take a paycut so San Antonio could sign free agents. But the Spurs missed on the big fish.

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Veteran free agent big man Pau Gasol has re-signed with the San Antonio Spurs on a three-year deal worth $48 million, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. There is only a partial guarantee on the final year of his new deal.

The contract comes as a surprise after Gasol opted out of the final year of his contract worth $16 million to become an unrestricted free agent in late June. He was expected to re-sign in San Antonio for more years on a smaller salary ifor the Spurs to pursue marquee free agents this summer.

San Antonio, however, missed on the big fish it targeted.

While rumors surfaced of a potential match between Gregg Popovich and Chris Paul, the Clippers point guard forced his way to Houston in a trade that created the league’s best backcourt.

The Spurs never made an offer on restricted free agent Jonathon Simmons. Instead, Popovich pulled back the qualifying offer and allowed the budding guard the freedom to sign with the Magic.

As a result, the Spurs agreed to give Gasol back the money they never spent elsewhere.

This adds to an odd summer in San Antonio

In an offseason where several Western Conference teams improved — the Warriors, Rockets, Thunder, Timberwolves, and Nuggets included — the Spurs did so, modestly.

They added Rudy Gay to a two-year deal and signed Joffrey Lauvergne. San Antonio also re-signed Patrick Mills, Manu Ginobili, and David Lee.

The thought process in San Antonio could be how close it came to dethroning the Warriors with last year’s roster. The Spurs were up 23 points in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals — already without Tony Parker — before Kawhi Leonard suffered a season-ending ankle injury.

We all know how that series ended: The Warriors came back to win Game 1, then swept the Spurs before eliminating the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. Now, San Antonio has chewed on the thought of what could have been had the gang been healthy all year long.

In re-signing Gasol, the Spurs give themselves another shot at challenging the Warriors for the West’s crown. The 37-year-old Spanish big man averaged 12.4 points and 7.8 rebounds in his 16th season in the NBA, leading the league in three-point percentage at 53.8 percent.

It just so happens it cost them $48 million to bring him back.