Thursday, July 22, 2010

Richard Jefferson 2.0

Who is Richard Jefferson really?  And how does he fit in the offense?  I might not be the first to say that I'm not sure Richard Jefferson fits very well.  Nonetheless, he's here, for just shy of $40 million over 4 years.  Yikes.  Wait, he's 30?  I thought we were going younger.  Yikes.  Or maybe not quite so yikes.  Last year the Bucks unloaded Richard Jefferson for Kurt Thomas, Bruce Bowen, and Fabricio Oberto, of the three, they only kept Thomas, waiving Bruce Bowen (who pretty much retired) and Fabricio Oberto (who went on to a mediocre season on the Wizards).  Essentially, Jefferson was to be a Bruce Bowen upgrade/replacement.  Perhaps not quite as refined or established defensively, but someone definitely more athletic and more dynamic on the offensive end.  Unfortunately, what we will dub as year 1 of the Richard Jefferson experiment failed with rather dismal results.  Jefferson averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists with less than a steal and block per game on 46.7% shooting and 31.6% from beyond the arc.  So how can he fit into the team?  Can he?

Sebastian Pruiti has convinced me that he can.  Jefferson has always been a player known for his explosiveness, much of his successful career in New Jersey may be attributed to playing with Jason Kidd in his prime years, but a lot of people have noted that he is something of a Vince Carter clone, less some of the IQ.  As age catches up to everyone, including Jefferson (who is now 30) it takes away a lot of the athleticism that players once boasted in their mid-20s.  The Tim Duncan we saw run the floors in 1999 now has shaky knees and has a hard time getting lift.  The Manu Ginobili of 2003 is now wiser, but also more fragile.  Likewise, Jefferson, who once had great athleticism, needs to adapt his game.  He has never been known as a wily player, and certainly we're not expecting him to suddenly become a crafty ball-handler in the like of Stephen Jackson.  However, Jefferson and the Spurs need to come to an agreement on how he can work with the rest of the Spurs.

With the addition of Tiago Splitter, I can definitely see Pop going into a lot of his older sets, now that there is something of a legitimate post presence next to Duncan once again.  Depending on Splitter's mid-range game, Pop may go to the low-post/high-post game that Pop used to run with Duncan and Robinson.  Generally speaking, when that happened, the remaining three players (Avery Johnson, Sean Elliot, and Mario Elie) would generally spot up around the perimeter for kickouts.  Times are changing though, the three players probably out there now are Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Richard Jefferson.  The kickout option becomes less attractive as Parker and Jefferson aren't spectacular spot up shooters.  They're serviceable, but spot up threes are not really their game.  I don't know a lot about basketball plays, but I would surmise that off-ball screens and cuts would probably be the most effective.  While we like Timmy in the low post, I know that he is an highly underrated passing big-man, and running him as a passer out of the high-post (a la Chris Webber) could be a very effective means of getting Jefferson involved in the offense.  Not to say we have to run this all the time, but it's plays like these that I think Jefferson can definitely work with.  That being said, Jefferson needs to get his head in the game and keep alert for opportunities.  Last season he had a tendency to get lost in the offense, hopefully, that doesn't happen as much this year.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Moving on...

So as the hubbub of the 2010 free agency continues to swirl, and we continue to hear about how every other semi-legitimate player is taking a massive pay cut to play with the Miami trifect of Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh, such names including Udonis Haslem, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Mike Miller.  No, the Spurs haven't really had much happen in the free agency, that is not much if you're not a Spurs fan.  Finally, the long awaited signing of Tiago Splitter did occur just the other day though.  So what does this mean for the future?  Well, Splitter is supposed to be the difference maker.  He is that big man that can defend next to Duncan.  This is no knock on DeJuan Blair or Antonio McDyess, but those extra inches make leaps and bounds of differences.  The nice thing I hear is that the Splitter deal is actually somewhat below the MLE, so that does leave us some room to sign some players (about $2.37M of room according to 48MoH).  With Richard Jefferson opting out and only $2.37M of MLE left to use, who then should we sign?  Well, a good place to start is looking at what we have under contract:

PG - Tony Parker, George Hill
SG - Manu Ginobili, Malik Hairston
SF -
PF - Tim Duncan, Matt Bonner, Antonio McDyess, DeJuan Blair
C - Tiago Splitter

So the glaring, obvious hole is in the SF spot, or more generally speaking, the wings.  I haven't seen or herad enough of Malik Hairston's play to say anything for or against him.  I'm also presuming now, that one of those wing spots will go to rookie James Anderson, who was drafted at number 20.  If draft reports are to be believed, Anderson is potentially starting quality material.  That's 10 players, leaving us $2.37M of MLE plus any veteran's minimum contracts to sign 3-5 more players.  So who's available?  Well I don't really know that I want Richard Jefferson back, though a sign-and-trade is potentially an option now that all the major big-name free agents have been gobbled up.  I'd rather have Josh Howard to be frank, but he's in the probably-too-expensive-for-our-budget category.  So who can be had at let's say $2M (roughly) or at veteran's minimum (aprrox $1.14M?)?

Here are some names I think are fairly viable:

Sasha Pavlovic

He's not great, some would say he's not even that good.  He can shoot the three, was something of a defensive specialist when he was on Cleveland and has bounced around a bit, did an admirable job guarding Vince Carter during the 2007 New Jersey-Cleveland series, and showed spurts of good play in the Finals sweep that same season.  Note, he was on the team that got swept, by us, yeah.  I mean, we like to pick up old vets from rival teams we played against before anyways right?  Mario Elie (from Houston), Robert Horry (from L.A. Lakers), Richard Jefferson (from the Bucks but originally from New Jersey), Antonio McDyess (from Detroit). 

Damien Wilkins

I know a little bit about Wilkins because I was in Seattle right before the Sonics were stolen.  Wilkins is known to be a decent defender and shoots the three moderately well.  He fizzled out halfway through a career-season as a starting SG on the Sonics, but I don't think he'll be called upon to play too many minutes on the Spurs.  I think he might be something of a Keith Bogans upgrade, and I know to some of you that's probably not saying a whole lot.

Joey Graham

The Graham brothers have probably been as big a bust as any out there in the NBA.  Nonetheless, he has the tools to be a decent defender, maybe Pop can motivate him.  He did have a decent season last year in Denver.

Rodney Carney

Another one of those athletic players who never realized their potential.  It's a matter of motivation.  There are a lot of these guys out there for good reason.

Joe Alexander

See above.

Matt Barnes

Barnes worked his butt off for Orlando as a stop plug defender last season.  With the possibility of his return dwindling, can we steal him away?  I think he's one of those intense hustle guys we can always use in the realm of Mario Elie.

Jarvis Hayes

Essentially he's a poor man's Bruce Bowen.  Probably not as proficient defensively, but a fairly reliable spot up shooter.

James Singleton

He intrigues me, I don't know much about him except he's a hustle defense kind of guy, worth taking a look at.

This is a fairly basic list of the guys I think we might want to consider.  From what I read about our draft pick, James Anderson, he's supposed to be something of a steal like Marcus Thornton previously, touted to be the most efficient player with the highest usage, we'll see how that translates, but having a Marcus Thronton-like scoring ability isn't bad.  If that efficiency translates, I'm happy.  So $2.37M plus a couple of veteran's minimum contracts for 3-5 players, I think we got a decent shot, let's hope it works this year.  It is odd.