Friday, December 2, 2011

Should the Spurs run in free agency?

Well, I'm sure it's more of a question of can they rather than should they, and frankly, I don't know that they can. Currently, the roster remains pretty much the same, with the addition of rookies Kawhi Leonard and Cory Joseph, acquired at the cost of George Hill, which, while sad, when all is said and done, was pretty worthwhile. currently ranks the Spurs as 8th overall in their power rankings, behind the likes of Miami, Dallas, OKC, Chicago, LA Lakers, Boston, and Memphis (of all teams), which I can see being relatively fair given the shape of the team. While indignant about being overlooked, as we have been so many times about so many things, I can understand why these 7 teams are ahead of us, because frankly, I think any of these 7 teams can handily beat us in any given playoff series. So the question again comes down to what do we need? and where do go from here?

Obviously, Duncan at age 35 and Manu at age 34 cannot sustain the team long term, like the Boston Celtics, with their aging trio of Kevin Garnett (35), Ray Allen (36), and Paul Pierce (34), this is probably their last run if they make one. Now, I believe that a classy organization like the Spurs will keep Duncan and Manu until they decide to retire, and I believe that classy players like Duncan and Manu know when to call it quits. It's also realistic to believe, that as good of a point guard as Tony Parker is (now 29), he's not a franchise cornerstone. With the changing of the guard for the Spurs, beginning with the drafting of Tim Duncan in 1997, David Robinson was fortunate to have, well, Tim Duncan. From 1997 through 2003, Gregg Popovich only needed to play 3 bigs for his rotation, Duncan, Robinson, and the ever serviceable Malik Rose. They got 2 championships from that front court rotation.  In 2005 and 2007 Duncan was able to get away with less well known frontcourt partners of Nazr Mohammed, Rasho Nesterovich, Fabricio Oberto, and Francisco Elson thanks to two things; the ever saavy veteran play of Robert Horry and the fact that Duncan was in his prime. Today's front court lineup unfortunately contains an older Duncan, who is probably closer to the then older Robinson now than his more youthful days, and a plethora of role players. Some mixture of Antonio McDyess, Matt Bonner, DeJuan Blair, and Tiago Splitter just isn't going to cut it.

The season is shortened, and unfortunately, unlike in 1999 we don't have a well-established team already, Kawhi Leonard is a rookie for crying out loud. Sure Manu won one his rookie year (2003), but remember they also had an established wing rotation with Stephen Jackson and Bruce Bowen. So given our current roster generally established:

PG - Tony Parker, Cory Joseph
SG - Manu Ginobili, James Anderson, Gary Neal
SF - Richard Jefferson, Kawhi Leonard
PF - Tim Duncan, Matt Bonner, Antonio McDyess, DeJuan Blair
C - Tiago Splitter

The question remains do we try to leverage any one in free agency or should we try to make a trade? Unfortunately, neither situation provides us with many options, but they are things to be considered. As much as we need a big, the big names of the free agency are mostly bigs which we can't afford, as much as I want Nene, Marc Gasol, Tyson Chandler, or even Samuel Dalembert, there's likely going to be a team with much more cap flexibility that can snatch up these players quickly. So who's left? Well, should we even be looking at bigs? Should we trade for one? These are all questions that I don't know that I can address. Who can we pick up cheap? With 12 spots filled we have 3 left on the roster, and given how much Pop likes using Bonner, McDyess, and Blair can anyone find playing time that's left or does Tiago eat it all up?

It's a tough question, and personally (as much as people will disagree with me about this) I don't believe DeJuan Blair is a good fit for this team. I think he's a great player who will work well in a system that suits him, and this is not it. We also have to remember though, that Blair is on his rookie contract, which might I remind you was from the second round, so maybe we get a solid backup PG? It's hard to say. All this being said, I can perfectly understand RC Buford and Gregg Popovich deciding to stand pat and see where things go, and given the upside of Kawhi Leonard, and now a full season of James Anderson, I feel I may be pleasantly surprised. It's easy to point at the needs we have right now, but hey, I trust they know what they're doing. If this is Timmy's last run, let's make it a good one.

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