Thursday, July 10, 2008

Express News: Mason in the bag, but work to be done

Jeff McDonald: Mason in the bag, but work to be done

Roger Mason is on his way to becoming a Spur, having agreed to a two-year deal worth roughly $7.5 million. Contrary to popular belief, however, the Spurs' offseason isn't over.

There is still work to be done, a roster to fill and money to be spent.

The Spurs used just part of their mid-level exception to lure Mason away from Washington. They have an additional $1.9 million to work with, and might not be done shopping for free agents -- though they are almost certainly out of the running for J.R. Smith, James Posey and possibly even Eduardo Najera.

Then, there is the question of their own free agents.

Kurt Thomas is the big one. The Spurs would like to re-sign him, but he's received interest from both the Lakers and Heat.

Brent Barry seems to be out of the equation in Phoenix, according to recent media reports out of Arizona, but is still being courted by Houston and Boston, and hasn't ruled out returning to San Antonio. The Rockets are considered to be the frontrunner for Barry's services, having reportedly dangled their $1.9 million biannual exception at him.

Worth noting: The Spurs could easily match the Rockets' offer with their own biannual exception, or with what's left of their mid-level exception, if they so desired.

The Spurs have talked with Michael Finley about the prospect of returning. They value his veteran savvy and leadership, but it's unclear how he would fit in now with Mason on his way.

It's appearing less and less likely that Robert Horry returns. Though Horry has said he would like to come back for a 17th season, with little market out there for a soon-to-be-38-year-old power forward, it looks like he might wind up retired by default.

The Spurs also have three draft picks vying for a spot on the roster and payroll. At some point, they will sign first-round pick George Hill, and have also discussed inking second-rounders Malik Hairston and James Gist.

The best guess here (and it's only a guess): The Spurs make a strong push at re-signing Kurt Thomas, sign their three rookies, and call it an offseason.

I'm excited about the new prospects, but I still don't like seeing our fan favorites go, i.e. Barry, Horry, etc...

It's like Malik Rose all over again, but with no Nazr Mohammad in return.

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