Last night, the San Antonio Spurs ended any hopes of a Miami Heat three-peat with an emphatic Game 5 victory to close out the 2014 NBA Finals. Kawhi Leonard won Finals MVP and the rest of our focus was obviously on coach Gregg Popovich and the Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. But somewhat lost in all of that was Patrick Mills, a huge X-factor for the Spurs in Game 5 and throughout the 2014 NBA Playoffs coming off the bench.
In five games against the Heat, Mills averaged 10.2 points per game while shooting 54 percent from the field and nearly 57 percent from 3-point range. That’s right, he shot a BETTER percentage from the toughest spots on the floor. Mills only averaged 6.9 points per game for the Spurs’ postseason run, but he came through when San Antonio needed him most and buried Miami with a barrage of 3s to close the deal. Mills added 17 points off the bench in Game 5 while going 6-of-10 from the floor and 5-of-8 from downtown. With his 14 points in the third quarter, Mills scored only four points less than the entire Miami Heat team.
Heading into the 2014 offseason, there are a ton of free agency questions surrounding these two Finals teams. Will LeBron James and the Big Three stay in Miami? Will Tim Duncan retire? But the biggest, most realistic one involving these two teams from the Golden State Warriors’ perspective is: Will anyone be able to lure Mills away from returning to a championship team with a Boris Diaw-sized contract?
Mills is an unrestricted free agent this summer, joining Diaw and Matt Bonner. Tim Duncan has a player option and will likely take less money to free up more space for the Spurs to add to their already impressive roster (assuming he isn’t retiring, of course). The Spurs have the cap room to make Mills a decent offer, but knowing the way management runs things, they may not be prepared to make Mills the desperate, lucrative contract offer that he’ll command on the open market.
Get that money, Patty Mills.
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) June 16, 2014
Enter the Golden State Warriors, who should be one of quite a few suitors for a phenomenal backup point guard like Mills. The Warriors added Steve Blake to their roster midseason and he brought an element of control and stability to a group of reserves that had been notoriously terrible. But Blake is also an unrestricted free agent and there’s a chance his limited time with the Dubs might not have been enough to convince management he’s worth keeping around, especially since other teams will also be interested in Blake’s services.
Blake is probably a better individual passer, but Mills is a far superior scorer and would bring consistent three-point shooting to a group of Warriors reserves that certainly use it. Most teams constantly focus on stopping Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, so bringing in Mills would add yet another spot-up shooter for defenses to worry about. And since Mills has spent the past three years playing for one of the league’s best passing teams, it’s safe to say Steve Kerr would be able to put him to good use.
Patty Mills averaged 19.5 points per 36 minutes this season. I’d love to see what he would do as a starter. — Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) June 16, 2014
Long story short: let Steve Blake go and make Patrick Mills an offer. The Warriors currently have $51.6 million on the books for the 2014-15 season, putting them $7 million under the current salary cap, which is projected to rise by nearly $5 million next season per ESPN. Jordan Crawford is a restricted free agent and Jermaine O’Neal is an unrestricted free agent who’s currently mulling retirement, so the Dubs will have the money to make Mills a decent offer.
It remains to be seen whether or not Mills will choose to take slightly less money with the Spurs to stay with the defending champions or if he can be swayed by the bigger contract offers his play will earn him this summer. But it doesn’t hurt to try and at age 25, Mills has both youth and championship experience. In the right environment Mills can thrive as a backup point guard. Since the Warriors are looking to compete for championships, making Patty Mills a good offer this summer could help mold that environment.
What do you think, Dubs fans? Would you like to see Patty Mills on the roster in 2014-15? Let Gerald know in the comments or on Twitter!