Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Express News: Spurs rebound to sign Roger Mason

NBA: Spurs rebound to sign Roger Mason
Jeff McDonald
and Mike Monroe

The morning after Corey Maggette climbed out of the NBA free-agent pool, the Spurs waded back in Wednesday.

They came out with Roger Mason Jr.

According to multiple NBA sources, the Spurs have reached an agreement with Mason, a 6-foot-5 guard who spent the past two seasons in Washington. The deal is expected to pay Mason $7.5 million over two seasons.

Mason doesn’t come with the sex appeal — or the scoring average — of Maggette. He is, however, coming off his best season as a pro.

Known primarily for his defensive toughness, Mason was an offensive revelation off the bench for the Wizards last season, his fourth in the NBA. Afforded increased playing time after injuries to guards Gilbert Arenas and Antonio Daniels, Mason averaged 9.1 points per game and shot nearly 40 percent from 3-point range.

Mason, who turns 28 in September, should give the Spurs additional depth on the wing behind Bruce Bowen and alongside Ime Udoka. His versatility is a plus — he can also play point guard if needed.

This isn’t the first time Mason has traversed the Spurs’ radar.

He worked out for the Spurs during free agency last summer, and so impressed the team’s staff that he came away with a three-year contract offer worth a little more than $3 million.

Mason rejected that overture, opting instead to return to Washington for one more year. Now, it appears Mason has parlayed that season into a more profitable pact with the Spurs.

News of Mason’s impending arrival in San Antonio comes a day after Maggette, formerly of the Los Angeles Clippers, spurned the Spurs and several other suitors to accept a more lucrative offer from Golden State.

Mason would come at a more affordable price tag, earning only a portion of the $5.58 million mid-level exception the Spurs had earmarked for Maggette. Mason would also be off the Spurs’ books in the summer of 2010, leaving them still well-positioned to participate in what ought to be a bountiful year for free-agent shopping.

One Western Conference scout says Mason will fit in well with the Spurs.

“He had almost a breakout year (last season),” the scout said. “Offensively, the Wizards had used him as a guy to come in off the bench and give them some offense and change the pace of the game. But last year, he got more quality minutes in key stretches of games and showed a much improved all-around game.”

It is unclear how the addition of Mason would affect the Spurs’ decision-making regarding two of their own unrestricted free agents, guards Brent Barry and Michael Finley.

Meanwhile, another potential Los Angeles-to-Bay-Area move Wednesday could produce further ramifications in San Antonio.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Ronny Turiaf, a restricted free agent, has agreed to a four-year, $17 million offer sheet from the Warriors. The Lakers have seven days to match the offer.

If the Lakers choose to let Turiaf go, they might be tempted to pursue Spurs forward Kurt Thomas.

Thomas, who is unrestricted, has said his preference is to remain in San Antonio, but he would be open to offers elsewhere.

Notebook: The Spurs are set to collect roughly $3.082 million dollars, their 1/30th share from the league’s luxury tax pool, paid by the eight teams who were over the tax threshold last season. ..... The team’s three 2008 draft picks — first-rounder George Hill and second-rounders Malik Hairston and James Gist — are scheduled to be in town this morning. All three are expected to play on the Spurs’ summer league team, which opens play next week in Las Vegas.


Position: Guard

Age: 27

2007-08 averages: 9.1 points, 1.7 assists and 1.6 rebounds in 80 games with Wizards

Strengths: A solid defender with a deft 3-point shooting touch. More of a shooting guard, but can play some point in a pinch.

Weaknesses: Not particularly adept at creating his own offense.

A little more info about the latest Spur, fresh off the San Antonio print.

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