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For Matt Bonner, a tiny house and big decisions

  • Concord native and NBA player Matt Bonner gets to work cutting wood for his tiny house. BELOW: Interior and exterior images of the finished house as seen on FYI Network’s “Tiny House Nation.” Courtesy of A&E and Matt Bonner

  • The tiny house made for Matt Bonner and his family. Courtesy of A&E and Matt Bonner —Courtesy of A&E and Matt Bonner

  • Concord native Matt Bonner shows off his wingspan in his tiny house. BELOW: Every inch of space counts for the 6-foot, 10-inch NBA player and his family. Courtesy of A&E and Matt Bonner

  • The tiny house made for Matt Bonner and his family. Courtesy of A&E and Matt Bonner —Courtesy of A&E and Matt Bonner

  • The tiny house made for Matt Bonner and his family. Courtesy of A&E and Matt Bonner —Courtesy of A&E and Matt Bonner

  • The tiny house made for Matt Bonner and his family. Courtesy of A&E and Matt Bonner —Courtesy of A&E and Matt Bonner

  • The tiny house made for Matt Bonner and his family. Courtesy of A&E and Matt Bonner —Courtesy of A&E and Matt Bonner

  • The tiny house made for Matt Bonner and his family. Courtesy of A&E and Matt Bonner —Courtesy of A&E and Matt Bonner

  • The tiny house made for Matt Bonner and his family. Courtesy of A&E and Matt Bonner —Courtesy of A&E and Matt Bonner


Friday, April 01, 2016

Matt Bonner isn’t sure.
His contract with the San Antonio Spurs expires at the end of this year, his 12th NBA season. Which team will he play for next season? The Spurs? The Celtics? No one, meaning retirement?

Plus, last Saturday, Bonner appeared on Tiny House Nation, a reality show on the FYI Network that promotes the growing trend of downsizing into something more comparable to a garage than a house.

Where will Bonner park his tiny home, which has wheels and is self-sustaining like an RV? In Meredith, where it’s wrapped in a tarp as we speak? In his new NBA home city? Nowhere in particular, turning it into a mobile home in its purest form?

“I can move it and put it anywhere, really,” Bonner said Wednesday by phone from San Antonio. “I don’t know what my long-term plan is for my tiny house. I am intrigued by taking it somewhere and driving it somewhere, parking it, trying to stay in it.”

I’m guessing Bonner and the word “tiny” have never, ever been used in the same sentence.

Until now.

The irony hits you like a slam dunk. Bonner, a 6-foot, 10-inch forward, the big redhead who starred at the University of Florida, the force who was head and shoulders above everyone else when he played at Concord High School, is officially part of the Tiny House Nation family, confirmed on national TV.

Perhaps you’ve seen the show, which airs Saturday nights at 9.

This isn’t merely Bonner shoehorning himself into his new abode. His wife Nadia, two kids, 6-year-old E.V., and 3-year-old August, will also be calling this tiny house their home.

Yep, that’s right, a family of four, which includes a dad with the wingspan of a pterodactyl and two growing kids, living in a structure that measures 276 square feet.

“It’s really small, so you have to take advantage of the space outside the tiny house,” Bonner said.

Bonner said the show’s producers knew his entertainment lawyer and used him to hook Bonner. Representatives from the show and network could not be reached for background, but Bonner speculated that “the theme was having some 6-10 person be able to fit into a tiny house. But I don’t know their angle.”

Nadia, the show explains, was on board right away. Bonner? Not so much. When you’re a giant, you worry about doorways and ceilings and leg room.

Bonner came around, though, and choosing him for the show made sense. He’s known nationally for several reasons, including an affable manner and a work ethic that I saw firsthand, years back when he played in Toronto for the Raptors.

There along with photographer Lori Duff, Bonner swiped his key card to get into the Air Canada Centre, home of the Raptors, on an off night. The arena was hosting the opera, and there was Bonner in the elevator, a foot taller than everyone else, wearing his sweats in a tightly packed space of tuxedos and strapless gowns.

Bonner shot 3-point jumpers that night for two hours, and the weapon has become his trademark contribution in a career that has lasted 12 years. He’s won two NBA titles with the Spurs, although this season, as he approaches his 36th birthday on April 5, a torn calf muscle has limited him to 25 games and dropped his minutes to 6 per game.

“To me it’s irrelevant,” said Bonner, when asked about his diminished role. “My approach is the same regardless of how many minutes I play. I will be in shape and be ready to help the team win. If I don’t play, I will still work extra hard in practice and after practice to stay in shape.”

No matter how hard Bonner works, however, there is only so much room for a soon-to-be 36 year old player who’s riding the bench and whose contract expires at season’s end.

“I’ve been on a one-year contract the last few years, so it’s one year at a time,” Bonner said. “We’ll see how I feel in the offseason, and if I keep playing, I keep playing, and if not I’ll hang them up.”

What better time to have a tiny house? Bonner has earned nearly $30 million during his NBA career, so the country is his to explore, with a home, in essence, strapped to his back.

Tiny houses range in price from $10,000 to $80,000, and while Bonner’s house was on the house, it’s unclear if this is the show’s usual policy.

Meanwhile, Bonner has a four-bedroom home in San Antonio, and the Spurs, always a threat to win the championship, could play into June. He also has a 2,000-square-foot house outside Meredith (his parents, Dave and Paula, and his brother, Luke, still live here), and now a tiny house in Meredith.

The show, filmed last summer, reminds you that carpenters are artists, with skills more impressive than sinking 25-foot jump shots.

“I agree with you 100 percent,” Bonner said. “I can barely build a birdhouse. I have so much respect for what they did.”

The show’s builders, led by regulars Zack Griffin and host John Weisbarth, included local contractor Nick Englert of New Hampton. One challenge they had was building a loft above the bathroom, where E.V. and August can sleep and hide from dad, who’s too big to venture up there.

“They love the tiny house,” Bonner said. “It’s like a toy house to them, or like a tree house, that kind of vibe. They go up in the loft and think it’s really cool. They figured out if they’re up there I can’t get to them and I have to find a way to convince them to come down.”

Englert was mentioned by first name only. He wasn’t interviewed, and it was obvious through editing that the show’s producers wanted their own hosts to get most of the credit.

But Bonner made sure to mention Englert, who was hesitant to boast about his role, saying it was part of the agreement. He had never seen the show, but he knew who Bonner was.

“Definitely,” Englert said. “I’m a sports fan. Matt and Nadia are great people, like normal people, down to earth and humble and appreciative of the work we did.”

Englert said he slept on site in his pickup truck a few hours a night to meet the show’s one-week deadline. He worked on all areas of the house, except for special projects, like the porch that slid under the house.

Bonner played the hosts in a 2-on-1 game, which evolved into a 4-on-1 game once Bonner blocked a shot into another zip code. A dunk, then a swish from long range ended the 5-0 shutout.

Bonner’s prize: another special project, this one a basketball hoop that unfolds from behind a cabinet’s two doors, mounted on the side of the house. There’s a crank to lower it for the kids, or extend it to its NBA-regulation height, 10 feet.

The inside is rustic, with granite insulation near the wood stove, high ceilings and shiny kitchen countertops, all part of the uncertain road ahead.

“We’ll see what happens,” Bonner said. “We’re not sure.”

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304, rduckler@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @rayduckler.)