SAN ANTONIO (AP) – Prized free agent Michael Finley officially signed with the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs on Friday.

“We are extremely pleased to have a player of Michael’s caliber joining our franchise,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He brings an All-Star level of talent to the floor and a high degree of character to the locker room.”

The 32-year-old swingman had been courted by several rising powers in the league, including San Antonio, Phoenix, Miami and Minnesota.

He joins All-Star Manu Ginobili, Brent Barry and Bruce Bowen at San Antonio. The team also recently added Nick Van Exel, who played with Finley in Dallas.

Finley became a free agent last month when the Mavericks waived him under the league’s new one-time amnesty clause. He’s still owed nearly $52 million in salary from the Mavs, but the team is no longer obligated to match it in luxury taxes.

Finley’s agent, Henry Thomas, announced Finley’s decision to sign with San Antonio on Wednesday.

By remaining in the Western Conference and the Midwest Division, Finley will be a frequent foe of the Mavericks. He’ll also be a potential thorn in their quest to make the NBA Finals for the first time.

– sort of like Steve Nash did last season, when he and the Suns eliminated Dallas in the second round of the playoffs.

The former All-Star’s scoring average has dropped five years in a row – from a career-best 22.6 points per game in 1999-2000 to 15.7 last season – and his rebounds and assists have diminished over that span, too.

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