Worst free agent signing in San Antonio Spurs history: Rasho Nesterovic
6 years, $42 million
The San Antonio Spurs are well-known for their skill in scouting and drafting internationally born players, from Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, to Patty Mills and Tiago Splitter. Therefore, it is rare for the Spurs to miss on properly valuing a player, but they seem to have done so with Rasho Nesterovic.
After the Spurs’ title in 2003, starting center David Robinson retired, having won two titles with the team since Tim Duncan was drafted. The Spurs knew they had a dynasty on their hands and looked to replace Robinson, ultimately signing the free agent center Nesterovic to a six-year, $42 million contract in 2003.
Nesterovic was alright, not a complete bust, but certainly not the level of player the Spurs thought they were signing. He played all 82 games the first season, settling into a low-usage role alongside the team’s stars.
The following season an ankle injury kept him out of some games, but he was there for the run to the title. In all he played three seasons for the Spurs, largely available and playing hard, but without much skill or development.
Needing an upgrade at the position, the Spurs eventually moved on from Nesterovic, with Nazr Mohammed starting 30 games in 2005-06. In June 2006, they worked out a trade with the Toronto Raptors, sending Nesterovic out and getting a package including Matt Bonner back.
Nesterovic was never a complete bust — the Spurs are too well run for that — but he was a disappointment to a franchise with a lot of pride, and a superlative track record.