Dragons Capture Spencer
- By Ken Walden, Day 1, 2023
Denver, CO --- In their first significant move of the offseason, the Denver Dragons splashed their cash in the free agent market, signing center James Spencer from the Atlanta Devils for a two-year, $20 million dollar contract. Sources say the Devils had reached out to Spencer about returning, and that he was interested in doing so, but the Dragons gave him an offer he could not refuse.
"The team knew if they wanted to lure a young talent away like Spencer, they would have to really overbid," reported an anonymous source in the Dragons organization. "Spencer is well aware of the salary rules in the JBL, and was asking for a 2-year contract so that he could maximize his value in two years. I think the Devils were hoping to get a longer deal out him. And so the Dragons management said let's give him more money, and the length he wants. We've got it to spend."
The Dragons came into the off-season with one of the lowest salary cap positions and a clear need in the frontcourt. Sources say they considered quite a few players to target, but we're very aware of the difficulty of pulling a guy away from his home team. "Denver made the playoffs, and that helps, but they are not a championship contender. Going against a home team willing to spend the max, the management figured they did not have a chance." In addition, the Dragons are looking for not only talent but fit, and some big men did not seem to fit well into the offensive and defensive schemes the team is running. Sources say the team had decided to target Reggie Dawkins because of the likelihood that Detroit would not want to overspend on the 31 year old. But the team switched targets when they realized the 25 year old Spencer was vulnerable to being poached.
"Spencer brings a lot to the table for Denver," explains a local sports reporter, Megan Walker. "Denver had one of the weakest frontcourts in the league in terms of both defense and rebounding, so those were priorities, and talents that Spencer brings to the table. In addition, Spencer has a scoring instinct which will hopefully punish teams too focused on the Novak-Bracey-van Bree combo in the backcourt. I think something Denver likes is that Spencer is also an athletic player, plays with a log of energy, and has shown a good talent at passing. Those help him fit into the team's scheme. And of course at 25 there is a chance he will continue to develop, versus a veteran's inevitable decline."
Word is that management talked with several others teams about acquiring a big through a trade as well, but chose not to sell assets, but simply buy. The signing helps Denver get above the salary floor and avoid penalties. And with only a 2-year contract, the team is not tied up long-term. "Denver will have a couple of years to try out this lineup and then be able to make some big decisions as the entire team will be out of contract at that point. If Spencer works out and continues developing, they will have the advantage to re-sign him, but if hard decisions need to be made at that point, Denver will have complete flexibility to rebuild the lineup.
Look for Denver to make several other signings before free agency is done to shore up their lineup.