Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The DeJuan Blair Project

According to Tim Varner, the window to this may be closing fast, and since Tim and all the commenters already blew this topic out of the water, I can kind just sit here and say, yes, I agree.  It's not that DeJuan Blair cannot fit with the Spurs (think Malik Rose circa 2003) but the simple fact that he's not.  I don't have a great frame of reference, but as currently stands, DeJuan Blair hasn't stood out to me to be much more than perhaps Jason Maxiell (circa 2005) with better passing and less hops.  Does that mean we trade him?  or do we keep working on him?  Well, I can't honestly say that I have a good answer to that.  For one thing, even if he doesn't have the skills necessary for a Spur he certainly does have the attitude, which sometimes is harder to come by.  However, this issue isn't one that the Spurs possibly haven't encountered before, but rather, one that comes at a fairly inopportune moment, that of Tim Duncan's closing championship window. 

With Antonio McDyess playing well, Matt Bonner shooting the lights out, and Tiago Splitter finally in a Spurs uniform, it's easy to think that Blair is now expendable, but as currently stands, the Spurs need so much going right to ensure success that it's hard figure out what a finalized lineup will look like.  In our previous championship teams Pop has generally used a relatively thin roster, but in today's lineup, we're seeing Pop throwing basically every available body on the floor.  I figure we won't see the 3 big rotation of old, and I'm sure that Pop is still tinkering around with what will work, and how to optimize it for not only the regular season but also moving into playoffs.  So what does that mean for the Spurs?  Can we develop Blair?  I'm almost certain that Spurs could groom Blair into the caliber of player that they need, but the problem isn't that, the problem is whether they can afford the time. 

Should we trade him then?  Blair is slated to make $918,000 this year, this means that the max we can trade Blair straight up for would be $1,247,500 of salary in return.  That's not a whole lot.  We could wait until December and try packaging him with Chris Quinn or Ime Udoka...  I'm not saying there aren't players out there we can't get with him, but realistically, what are we looking for?  I really don't have any straight up answer myself, but let's hash out some of the possibilities here:

The first and most obvious possibility is to just hang on to Blair and try to ride it out and hope that something clicks mid-season.  Personally, if this is the move to be made, at this point in time I would move Antonio McDyess into the starting lineup in place of Blair until Tiago Splitter has shown that he has adapted to the game, at which time, I would insert Splitter in as the starter next to Duncan.  Blair would essentially become something of a sparkplug off the bench, producing with energy, think possibly Carl Landry on the Houston Rockets. 

The second possibility is to trade Blair.  Now Blair as a player is fairly marketable, but as Tim states in his article he needs a bevy of shooters around him to be effective.  We're talking about an undersized center who makes smart outlet passes and can be a premier rebounder when it comes to positioning and hustle.  Here is a list of players that you could feasibly trade Blair for straight up:

Atlanta Hawks:
Jason Collins - C
Jordan Crawford - SG
Josh Powell - C
Etan Thomas - PF/C

I'm not keen on packaging anyone with Blair, simply because other than Quinn and Udoka, I don't know who exactly I'd really want to package.  Bonner thrives in our system and McDyess are both playing well, that leaves James Anderson, who I still have high hopes for, Gary Neal who is playing well, and George Hill, who would be the most value to other teams, but frankly, also would be one of the players I'd want to trade the least.  From the Hawks there really isn't anyone except Jordan Crawford who intrigues me, and with the impending departure of Jamal Crawford due to contract issues, I don't see them parting with Jordan quite that easily.

Boston Celtics:
Von Wafer -SG
Delonte West - G

Frankly, those two players to me we already have copies of in Gary Neal and George Hill, so I don't really see a reason to even think about this.

Charlotte Bobcats:
Derrick Brown - F
Kwame Brown - C
Dominic McGuire - SF

McGuire is probably the most intriguing of the trio that we could get for Blair.  While he's a long, athletic defensive wing, he doesn't really have much of an offensive game to speak of, and I personally don't have enough confidence in the playmakers off the bench to involve him enough to not have defenses take a vacation and hide horrendous defenders (read: Steve Nash) on him.

Chicago Bulls:
Taj Gibson - PF
John Lucas - PG
Brian Scalabrine - PF

Gibson is the primary person of interest, and I can't say I know enough about him to declare him immediately a better fit for the Spurs or enough about the Bulls to determine whether or not DeJuan Blair will be a better fit behind Carlos Boozer or if this would be at best a big step sideways.  My gut tells me that maybe, but probably not since they don't have a bevy of shooters that we think Blair needs.

Cleveland Cavaliers:
Christian Eyenga - G
Joey Graham - SG/SF
Leon Powe - PF
Jawad Williams - SF

Leon Powe is the most intriguing of the list and frankly, I don't see him as a significant upgrade over Blair, significant enough to make the move.

Detroit Pistons:
Jonas Jerebko - F
Tracy McGrady - SG/SF
DeJuan Summers - F

I like Jerebko, I'm sure the Pistons do too, he could be like the second coming of Walter Hermann only Swedish.  T-Mac of 3+ years ago is exactly what we need, T-Mac of now... ew. 

Indiana Pacers:
Josh McRoberts - PF
A.J. Price - PG
Lance Stephenson - SG

McRoberts is one of those that at first glance I kind of looked at and was thought, no way, but the more I think about it, the swap might be better fits for both teams.  It's purely a speculation move, and ultimately, might just be a lateral move, but I actually think Blair fits pretty well on the Pacers' current roster and McRoberts wouldn't be a bad fit as a Spur.

Miami Heat:
Carlos Arroyo - PG
Mario Chalmers - PG
Juwan Howard - PF/C
Jamal Magloire - C

This is the first official time, but certainly not the last time to say that George Hill would actually solve all of the PG woes that Miami has.  If he were healthy and we got Udonis Haslem somehow out of that deal I'd think about it.

Milwaukee Bucks:
Earl Boykins - PG
Jon Brockman - PF
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute - F

I like Mbah a Moute, a lot.  Question is though, is Blair that much better than Brockman.  Yes he is better, but is he better enough to lose your best perimeter defender?  Mbah a Moute would solve problems like Jerebko or Hermann would've, not the ideal fit, but we can make it work.

New Jersey Nets:
Stephen Graham - SF
Damion Jones - SF
Quinton Ross - SF
Joe Smith - PF

If Brook Lopez is supposed to be the next Tim Duncan than Blair wouldn't work next to him.  Besides, aren't they developing Derrick Favors?  Plus, most of the players they can offer are ones I wouldn't want either.

New York Knicks:
Toney Douglas - G
Andy Rautins - G
Bill Walker - SG

How much more are we willing to add to this if we could get Wilson Chandler or Anthony Randolph?  Seriously.  Randolph is more of an upside potential thing, but he'd also be a great fit in San Antonio (though attitude might be an issue, or perhaps maturity rather).  Chandler would make a huge impact right away.  Out of the three straight up, I like Bill Walker, I don't know about his defense though.  For the record Tim Varner likes Bill Walker, for Blair?  Maybe we can get more.

Orlando Magic:
Malik Allen - PF
Daniel Orton - PF
Jason Williams - PG

When I think bevy of shooters this is the team, but then, isn't this what they have Brandon Bass for?

Philadelphia 76ers:
Tony Battie - PF/C
Jodie Meeks - G

I know Tiago already addresses this need, but Spencer Hawes anybody?  Worth a look I think.  Otherwise, don't go near this team.

Toronto Raptors:
Solomon Alabi - C
Joey Dorsey - PF
Sonny Weems - SG

While Toronto is kind of that "bevy of shooters" place, I really wouldn't wish that on DeJuan.  Besides, there really isn't anyone worth trading for on that team.

Washington Wizards:
Hilton Armstrong - C
Trevor Booker - C
Alonzo Gee - SF
Cartier Martin - SG/SF

We cut Gee for a reason.  No one else looks worth it, besides they already have Blatche and Yi.

Dallas Mavericks:
Brian Cardinal - PF
Dominique Jones - SG
Ian Mahinmi - PF/C
Steve Novak - SF/PF

We let Ian Mahinmi walk for a reason and Matt Bonner is way better than Brian Cardinal and Steve Novak.

Denver Nuggets:
Anthony Carter - PG
Melvin Ely - PF/C
Shelden Williams - PF

The only player I would REALLY want from the Nuggets would be Tiago Splitter's fellow Brazilian: Nene Hilario.

Golden State Warriors:
Rodney Carney - SF
Reggie Williams - SG/SF

Another bevy of shooters, this is a maybe depending on if Reggie Williams can defend, otherwise I don't like anybody.

Houston Rockets:
Chase Budinger - SF
Jermaine Taylor - SG

We're actually not too much in terms of salary off from being able to pull off a DeJuan Blair for Courtney Lee straight up.  Would I do it?  That's iffy.

Los Angeles Clippers:
Jarron Collins - C
Brian Cook - PF
DeAndre Jordan - C

DeAndre Jordan is an interesting look, but that's about it.  Matt Bonner is better than Brian Cook too.  I passed on the first Collins twin, the second one isn't getting my nod either.

Los Angeles Lakers:
Theo Ratliff - C

Theo's a great guy, but we didn't retain him for a reason.

Memphis Grizzlies:
Darrell Arthur - PF
DeMarr Carroll - F
Acie Law - PG
Greivous Vasquez - G
Sam Young - G

Darrell Arthur is a maybe, but frankly I don't see why Memphis would want Blair.  Not enough of a bevy of shooters.  Can someone please tell Memphis to trade us Marc Gasol for nothing?

Minnesota Timberwolves:
Wayne Ellington - PG

Um... no.

New Orleans Hornets:
Aaron Gray - C
D.J. Mbenga - C
Quincy Pondexter - SF
Marcus Thornton - SG

I like Quincy Pondexter, it might have something to do with being a fellow UW alumnus.  While I think he can thrive in the system, he, at this point, is not necessarily going to pan out more than James Anderson, who says we can't use them both?  We could, but I don't think the Spurs necessarily want two major developmental projects on the wings.

Oklahoma City Thunder:
Serge Ibaka - C
Royal Ivey -PG
Byron Mullens - C
D.J. White - PF

I like the numbers Ibaka is putting up, I'm sure OKC does too.  As much as I think Blair might help the Thunder, they really don't have anything I would want in return.  Not that they're willing to give up anyways.

Phoenix Suns:
Earl Barron - C


Portland Trailblazers:
Dante Cunningham - F
Sean Marks - F
Patrick Mills - PG

Cunningham is another one of those, I like him but so does the team that currently has him, players.  No one else interests me too much.  Patty Mills reeks too much of a poor man's Tony Parker for me to pull the trigger.

Sacramento Kings:
Donte Greene - F
Luther Head - G
Darnell Jackson - PF
Hassan Whiteside - PF/C

I like Greene, I think he has potential, but there must be a reason he's playing behind Omri Casspi and Francisco Garcia.  I don't know enough of his game to say for sure.  Jason Thompson is officially expendable, I frankly like him, not sure why other teams don't, but again, how much more are we willing to fork out for him?  At this point in time I can only surmise he'd be Antonio McDyess plus.

Utah Jazz:
Francisco Elson - C
Earl Watson - PG

It's not 2007 anymore so we're not going back to Elson.

Well that's pretty much my take.  If Blair is indeed on the block, the question then becomes first how badly Pop needs that 5th big (we could always bring back Marcus Cousin) to give Timmeh a break.  I'm still of the mind that we could use a "wing" player, someone who can play both SG or SF as a sort of defensive stopper, ultimately, someone like Ricky Davis (a poor man's Stephen Jackson who won't need the ball that much).  The options really are limitless, but also remember, there is a limited list of free agents we could probably get for the Veteran's minimum as well (the top choices in my opinion being Courtney Sims, Chris Mihm, and Marcus Cousin).  I really don't know.  I see the Spurs at least waiting until December when the free agents signed this summer can be traded, but honestly it's going to be a tough call.  I know we all like Blair, but he's obviously not a great fit.  The question for the DeJuan Blair project becomes: can he become one (a great fit)? or do we end the project by trading him to someone who fits better?  I'm not R.C. Buford or Gregg Popovich so I don't have to answer that difficult question, but these are the possibilities I see out there.

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