Friday, May 13, 2011

Altering A 60 Win Team... This Guy Isn't The Answer, Is He?

I didn't think I'd be writing something like this in early May, but here we are, the 2nd round has begun and for the 2nd time in 3 seasons the Spurs aren't a part of it. If you listen to some, like long time Spurs doubter Ric Bucher, it's time to blow the team up. I don't want to go that far, but some changes have to be made.

Getting bigger is a simple fix in theory. The next problem isn't. The Spurs lived by the 3 in the regular season and died by it in the playoffs. They way the lost felt eerily similar to the way the Spurs and Mavs knocked out the Suns for those 4 years in the middle of the decade. Too many shooters who didn't show up in the playoffs and not enough defensive minded swing men.

Here's one idea: Gary Neal to Memphis for Darrell Arthur (you'll recognize him as the guy that owned Matt Bonner anytime Coach B had to play defense of any sort). Arthur showed he's a tough defender who is athletic and can space the floor by hitting a 15-foot jumper. That versatility means he could play next to any big the Spurs have on their roster. As for Neal, he was probably the only Spurs shooter who showed up with any consistency in the 1st round of the playoffs, but he's undersized and the Spurs already have plenty of undersized guys. The Spurs also have James Anderson who, before his injury, was giving the Spurs some good minutes. I think he could be the backup 2/3 that Neal is now. Memphis doesn't have a consistent shooter, so a guy like Neal would fill a need for them.

The Spurs could also go after some bigger named centers like Marc Gasol, who just did an amazing job in the Spurs series. A lot of people talked about Duncan's decline and I agree he looked a step slow, but to say he's fallen off the cliff does a huge disservice to the job Gasol did. I think he'd be perfect next to Duncan for the next couple of years and then next to Splitter or whoever comes after Duncan. But he's a restricted free agent who will probably make at least 10 million dollars a year on his next contract. The Spurs don't have the cap room or the assets to get Pau's larger, tougher brother. They'd have to swing a 3 team trade that probably involves Tony Parker (which I'm fine with) or Richard Jefferson's contract (good luck unloading that this summer). The same goes for Nene by the way.

One guy I'm sure they will make an effort to get is Shane Battier. He's a free agent, he fits the Spurs system perfectly and having him and Jefferson split time at the 3 and Hill and Anderson as the back up guards would make the Spurs much tougher on the perimeter.

I think the only other option is trading Tony Parker. I don't know what his value is right now, but would you trade Tony Parker, Matt Bonner and Antonio McDyess' partially guaranteed contract for maybe Josh Smith, Jeff Teague & Zaza Pachulia? This would give the Spurs two young pieces to try to build around. Atlanta gets another All-Star to put in the backcourt with Joe Johnson and switches up the dynamic of a Hawks team that wasn't ever going to be better than 4th or 5th best in the East.

What about Tony Parker and DeJuan Blair for Nicolas Batum and Marcus Camby? Would Portland even do this? Point is you're not going to get another superstar for Parker (unless Deron Williams wants out of New Jersey/Brooklyn) and wants to come play in Texas (where he's from) and for Coach Pop (who he's always said he's admired). That's probably your best case scenario actually. And yes, I know Deron Williams doesn't have the pedigree Parker has, but he also hasn't played next to Tim Duncan his entire career, so I don't want any comments about how you wouldn't trade Williams for Parker.

Here's the last and possibly most intriguing. Tony Parker and Matt Bonner for Pau Gasol and Steve Blake. Does this trade make too much sense for both teams? Gasol would become the Spurs best offensive big and allow Duncan to become a defensive minded big like Robinson did once Duncan arrived. Also, the idea of the two smartest big men in basketball playing for a couple of seasons is pretty exciting to think about. Not to mention that he and Splitter would be perfect when ever Duncan needed some rest. And Blair could slide over to the 4 assuming he continues to develop and lay off the Whataburger. It's a no-brainer really. It would, however, give me two less hashtags on Twitter since #benchbonner and #TradeTP are two of my favorites.

John Hollinger said it best the other day when he said the Lakers couldn't keep up with Dallas' "Midget Brigade". Hilarious and true. Wouldn't getting a speedy guard like Tony Parker who would be a perfect secondary scorer behind Kobe be ideal for the Lakers? Also, they still have Bynum and Odom to offer to Orlando for Dwight Howard. On second thought, let's forget the last two paragraphs were ever written.
So the Spurs have options and it's not as awful a free agent class as people might think, but this has to be the summer where the Spurs think defense and size. Easier to think about then act on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My first thought is this; You are spot on in comparing this year's Spurs team to the Phoenix teams you mention. Why was this the approach that they took AND benefitted from this year? They really had to go against their own grain and try to pull something out of the ol' anal cavity if they had any chance at all. And if the 3ball was falling against Memphis, they could've pulled it out.

Second, they need a DOMINANT #5. Now, DOMINANT doesn't mean that it needs to be a fancy cursive script player. DOMINANT just needs to be a strong capitalized DOMINANT that commands attention. Just like I've written it right here. You see how I did that? Forget about Marc Gasol. He has finally become the player that I imagined before the Gasol/Gasol deal. Again, you've spelled it out when you say that Duncan "hasn't fallen off of the cliff". I believe that he can still give you a few more (eh, 3-4 max) seasons at the same level that you saw from him this year. And, that is all you can ask for.

Mark Gasol is going nowhere! Get that out of your silly head. Also, Blair should go nowhere either! He is a perfect fit. But, if you can get something of above mentioned value for Parker then you have to do it. It hurts me to say it as I definitely feel different about his value, both past and present, than you do. But, if you can ship him off to a contender who needs that last missing piece and will overcompensate to get him then you have to do it while his value still garners such attention.

With this in mind, they need to be sure that Hill is going to be their guy for years to come. My feeling is that he isn't and that the #1 is another position that they are going to have to develop from within. Hill is another piece of trade bait if they want to keep things rolling in the interim. Sell high, you know?

The fact is, San Antonio is due for a little "down time". It was supposed to start this year, maybe even last. Did you really even expect them to have the kind of season that they had this year? Of course not, or you wouldn't be posing the question that the title of your entry even suggests.

My idea? Tank next season and have Dan Gilbert's boy open your envelope! Maybe they'll end up with Andrew Luck and the next 2 decades WILL BE OURS, BUWAHAHAHA!!! Here's an omen to think about; wasn't their first Championship taken during a strike shortened season? (Pinky finger posed at the corner of my mouth, think Dr. Evil)

In summation I give you this... If they chase Shane Battier in free agency, I will hold you personally responsible!