In Game 5 of the 2014 NBA Finals, Patrick Mills earned a moment that was long coming after a breakout season with the San Antonio Spurs. Coach Gregg Popovich said he never got much playing time before because “he was a little fat ass“; now the Australian backup point guard was raining down threes on the defending champion Miami Heat, scoring 17 points off the bench on 5-of-8 shooting from downtown.
Patty Mills had arrived, and a “fat ass” payday was coming.
Now, those lucrative offers that were sure to come to this 25-year-old unrestricted free agent are sure to dry up after The Sydney Morning Herald broke the news that Mills would be missing seven months because of a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. Mills’ injury requires surgery and the Spurs might not see him back on the court until January 2015 at the earliest.
For Patty Mills, this is devastating news. Not only will he miss out on the World Cup this offseason, but he’s also going to miss out on the big contract offers that were heading his way this summer, even from his San Antonio Spurs who likely would’ve needed to up their offer to keep him around. Now the Spurs will have a much easier time convincing him to re-sign in San Antonio.
After surgery to repair torn rotator cuff, Patty Mills will likely be out until March, sources tell Yahoo. Spurs still want to re-sign him.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 2, 2014
Avery Bradley got four years and $32 million with his Boston Celtics. Jodie Meeks was offered a three-year deal worth $18 million. Even freaking Ben Gordon got paid after the Orlando Magic gave him a two-year, $9 million contract. Poor Patty Mills might have to settle for something much less than what he was on pace for.
As for the Spurs, what does this mean for San Antonio’s chances at a repeat? Everyone will more than likely be back next year and the Spurs just added a tantalizing prospect through the 2014 NBA Draft in UCLA’s Kyle Anderson, who very well could end up being the steal of the draft. However, with the news that Mills will be missing nearly half the season (not to mention that Manu Ginobili has a stress fracture in his foot, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports), where does that leave San Antonio’s bench?
To address the Ginobili issue, Woj reports Ginboili should be sidelined for two months and be ready for training camp in September. But with Mills out for at least seven months, the Spurs could be in need of a backup point guard. Cory Joseph is the third-string backup who will likely absorb Mills’ minutes, but can he replace those 10.2 points in 18.9 per game off the bench that San Antonio got from their Aussie last year?
No one can say for sure, but Joseph is entering the final year of his rookie deal and may get the chance to show what he can do just in time for a contract extension. Joseph averaged 5.0 points and 1.7 assists in 13.8 minutes per game and shot 47.5 percent from the floor last season. The glimpses of potential for this 22-year-old were rare, but they were there. Just ask Serge Ibaka:
The Spurs are masters at turning fringe role players into breakout playoff performers, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Pop just lets his team’s ball movement make up for the slight drop off from Mills to Joseph during the regular season. But if the Spurs are uncomfortable with giving Joseph a chance to shine, they also have options in free agency this summer.
Jerryd Bayless, Kirk Hinrich, Steve Blake, Mo Williams and Mario Chalmers are all unrestricted free agents this summer, just to name a few. And although that’s not the greatest list of free agent point guards the NBA’s ever seen, how many times have we laughed at a name the Spurs have added only to watch him break out in the postseason a few months later?
The Spurs could sign one of these guys without breaking the bank, but in the end they very well could just decide to take their chances with Joseph and give him a shot at extended minutes. This is a devastating blow to Patty Mills after his breakout year, but as always, the Spurs will keep chugging along.