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Marco Belinelli says he passed up money to sign with the San Antonio Spurs

Jan 21, 2014, 5:39 PM EDT

Marco Belinelli AP

Marco Belinelli, explaining how the San Antonio Spurs pitched him during free agency last summer, recalled three factors. In the order Belinelli listed them:

1. Chance to win a championship

2. Money

3. Support to improve his game

Belinelli is certainly getting No. 1. The Spurs are 32-9, best in the Western Conference.

No. 3 has happened, too. Shooting 69-for-138 (50 percent) on 3-pointers, Belinelli having – by far – the best season of his career.

No. 2? That’s a little more complicated. Belinelli is doing fine, making $2,750,000 this season and $2,873,750 next. If he keeps playing like this, he’s in line for a big raise. But if he joined a different team than the Spurs, perhaps he could have gotten a higher salary this year.

Dan McCarney of Spurs Nation:

Belinelli, meanwhile, said he had more lucrative offers than the two-year, $5.6-million deal he would eventually sign with the Spurs. But the opportunity to play for one of the best teams in the NBA, alongside long-time idol Manu Ginobili, was too good to pass up.

“I know money is important,” he said. “But I’m a young guy and I want to improve my game. Money will come. I just want to win.”

Passing up money in free agency during his prime to play for a winner? That sounds an awful lot like another player many fans hate.

The scope is different, but there’s really no difference, in this regard, between Belinelli and LeBron James. We should all understand that each used free agency, a legitimate tool for players, to put themselves in the best-possible position based on what they value.

Because of those decisions, a Spurs-Heat NBA Finals rematch is quite possible. For Belinelli and LeBron more money will be there later – if they want it. In the meantime, they’re just two guys who put winning ahead of dollar signs.

  1. sdeweese18 - Jan 21, 2014 at 5:51 PM

    It’s different because LeBron is the franchise player for any team he’s on. Marco is a role player

  2. shanelsweet - Jan 21, 2014 at 6:17 PM

    Sounds a lot like the D12 decision to leave the Lakers for Houston last year. I’m telling you, folks want to win and folks want to play with folks whom they like to play. It’s human nature. Too many fans assume it’s just about the money for these guys, but it’s not.

    • metalhead65 - Jan 21, 2014 at 11:32 PM

      do not kid yourself they may want to win but it comes down to money. if all they cared about was winning then why did they take 12-14 million a year? if they only cared about winning then you play for half that so you have money to pay for quality backups who also only care about winning. instead they took the max they could get so all 3 could play and though they have won they all have played major min. because they do not have a solid bench. it is not like belineli is a franchise player who is going to lead the spurs to the title like lebron and company. he may have taken a little less but it is not like he was turning down 10 million a year and chose the spurs. the guy already has money from his rookie deal and 2.5 is not small change. I am sure he will be able to survive on that.

      • Michele Ponte - Jan 22, 2014 at 3:51 AM

        I don’t know why people never consider taxes. In Texas the taxes are so low that Howard is making more money with the Rockets even if the contract with the Lakers was bigger and longer. HOWARD TEASED LOTS OF PEOPLE saying that he would make less money to win, HE KNEW ABOUT LOWER TAXES IN TEXAS.

  3. antistratfordian - Jan 21, 2014 at 6:36 PM

    Oops

  4. kanemoney - Jan 21, 2014 at 7:03 PM

    He is probably worth 5-7m a year, so he is definitely a bargain

    • 00maltliquor - Jan 22, 2014 at 12:31 AM

      You’re crazy. 5 mill in today’s market should be his max, and even that’s a bit pricy. Good player to have though, not knocking him.

  5. timb12 - Jan 21, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    I get that the moves were more or less the same if you strip away everything but what you want to look at. But old Marco isn’t going to go down as one of the best ever. He doesn’t have a legacy or anything like that. So while the situations were similar in terms of what they did, it’s a lot different because of who they are.

  6. thundercocck - Jan 21, 2014 at 7:53 PM

    You’re right Dan, there is no difference between him or LeBron AT ALL. But I think I will need to check youtube for Belineli’s ESPN special b/c I missed it.

  7. titansbro - Jan 21, 2014 at 8:51 PM

    Bron Bron didn’t lose any money in that deal. He makes up the difference doing like 1-2 commercials a year. I don’t recall seeing Bellineli in any commercials. The 2 are not the same.

  8. borisalessandri - Jan 21, 2014 at 10:39 PM

    And if you factor in the fact the cost of living is so dirt cheap here in SA, the guy is pocketing some serious bank.

  9. chicagosports2014 - Jan 22, 2014 at 5:44 AM

    Good for you goof.

  10. justorion - Jan 22, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    Why is Lebron even mentioned in this article? I don’t recall belinelli requiring a special Espn episode for his decision. Lame

  11. belleby123 - Jan 24, 2014 at 8:22 AM

    And the Bulls couldn’t keep Bellinelli why? Because good players cost money?

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