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Who Are These Guys? (Spurs Edition)

Who are these guys the Nets would get in a Vince Carter trade and what else might the Spurs have to offer? Here’s a thumbnail assessment of each, including their salaries next season:

Roger Mason, Jr., 6’5" shooting guard, 28 years old. A hard-working three point specialist whose development has surprised the Spurs. The key player the Nets would get back in a Carter trade, he would likely start at shooting guard. Signed over the summer after being pursued by a number of NBA teams, including the Nets. Currently seventh in the NBA in three point shooting at 44.9 percent, he will compete in Saturday’s three-point shootout, wearing #15…teammate Matt Bonner’s number. One of the NBA’s most intellectual players, the University of Virginia grad is a big fan of architecture, particularly Frank Lloyd Wright. He averages 11.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.9 apg. He’s owed 3,780,000 in 2009-10.

George Hill, 6’2" point guard, 22 years old. A surprising rookie who took over when Tony Parker went down early in the season and proved he was worth more than the 26th pick in the draft. Has a Parker/Devin Harris game built on speed. Averaged 11.1 ppg and 3.3 apg in in November, with three games of more than 20 in Parker’s absence, including a season high of 23 vs. Utah. In one four-game stretch, he averaged 20.5 points on 48.1% shooting and 40.0% from deep, going to the line 31 times and converting 28. Played for mid-major IUPUI. Overall, averaging 6.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.0 apg. On his rookie contract, owed 1,081,680 in 2009-10 and another $2.1 million in the two years after that.

Bruce Bowen, 6’7" small forward, 37 years old. A tough veteran who rose from difficult surroundings to become one of the game’s top defensive swingmen. Can still defend…ask Vince Carter. Named to the All-Defensive First Team for the fifth straight season last season. Named to the second team three straight years before that. Has three NBA rings with the Spurs. Undrafted out of Cal State Fullerton, he banged around the French league and CBA before catching a break with the Celtics. Once led the league in three point shooting. One of the league’s most solid citizens, giving generously to children’s charities. Averaging 2.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg and 0.5 apg in limited minutes. His $4,000,000 million salary in 2009-10 is partially guaranteed for $2,000,000 if waived before 8/1/09. Contract has a trade kicker.

Fabricio Oberto, 6’10" center, 33 years old. One of the winningest players in basketball history with Olympic gold and bronze medals, a World Cup silver medal, two Spanish League championships and an NBA ring. An Argentine teammate of Manu Ginobili and Andres Nocioni. He has started 108 games for the Spurs in four years but none this season. Fundamentally sound and a particularly good passer for a big man. One of the NBA’s oldest rookies ever at 29 years old in 2005. Averaging 2.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.2 apg. His $3.8 million salary in 2009-10 is partially guaranteed for $1,900,000 if waived before 7/1/09

Draft Picks: although initial reports don’t suggest either team would send draft picks the other way, it's likely to be part of any discussion. The Spurs are limited in what they can send, however. They don’t have a first round pick in 2009, having traded it to the Thunder for Kurt Thomas along with Brent Barry and Francisco Elson a year ago. That means they can’t give the Nets their first round pick in 2010 either since the league prohibits teams from trading their own first round picks two years in a row. The Spurs have their own second round pick in 2009 as well as the Rockets'. They have their own second round pick in 2010.

Draft Rights: the Spurs retain the draft rights to three European players, one of whom the Nets were known to have interest in, another athletic seven-footer. The three are Tiago Splitter, a 24-year-old 7'0" Brazilian center-power forward who plays for Spanish powerhouse Tau Ceramica, drafted in the first round in 2007; Viktor Sanikidze, a 22-year-old 6’8" Georgian power forward who plays in Estonia, drafted in the second round in 2004; and Robertas Javtokas, a 28-year-old 6’11" Lithuanian center who plays for Moscow Dinamo (with Boki Nachbar), drafted in the second round in 2001.

Although the Nets seem to enough young, athletic seven footers, Splitter is generally regarded as the best big man in Europe. He is currently averaging 15 ppg and 6 rpg for Tau. He was MVP of the Spanish Super Cup tournament in both 2006 and 2007 and was named to the All-Euroleague First Team for the 2007-08 season. He's a banger with good low-post moves and a great ability to run the court. No one doubts he had lottery-level talent, but his situation is complicated. Long on the NBA radar, Splitter dropped out of the NBA draft three times because of large buyouts in his Spanish league contracts. The buyouts were so large so he wouldn't have been able to pay them from his NBA earnings. Then, in 2007, he was taken at #28 by the Spurs. In spite of his talent, he was taken so low because of fears he would never join the NBA, that he was happy playing in Spain and for the Brazilian national team. The pick, as low as it was, essentially helped those fears become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Spurs or any other team that gains his rights can only pay him $2.35 million over three years, a pittance compared to his European salary. While his inclusion in a trade might look good, chances are limited he would want to play back up to Brook Lopez for a fraction of what he is getting in Europe. He is reportedly signed through 2011-12, making him value even less appealing.

Javtokas is a solid, exceptionally strong European center, but at 28, he’s unlikely to make the leap across the ocean. Sanikidze never developed as NBA scouts had hoped.

(Speaking of Boki, there are reports that Nets have retained Nachbar's "rights" and thus could include him in a deal. Nachbar continues to play in Russia, but wants to return to the NBA. Unlike the case of Nenad Krstic, the Nets don't have the right of first refusal. What they do have is Nachbar's "Bird Rights", ideal for working a sign-and-trade. Another team that wanted Nachbar could negotiate a deal with him, have the Nets sign him and then trade for him. No need to worry about how much the first team had left over from their MLE or LLE.)