With all of the comments and questions coming in from Project Spurs' readers regarding the offseason plans of the San Antonio Spurs, I thought a mailbag answer session was the most effective way of communicating back with all of those who submitted questions.
I selected the best five questions to reply to, and if you didn't make the mailbag this week, submit a comment under this article or email a question in and you can make next week's edition.
• Josespurs sends in a question regarding the much talked about 19 year old Brazilian prospect Lucas ''Bebe'' Nogueira:
If the pick Lucas Nogueira as tall man in the draft, will he play with Spurs next year? - Josespurs
''Bebe'' withdrew from the draft yesterday a couple of hours before the deadline. So no one will be drafting him this year. Lucas is a very raw prospect so he wasn't going to help anyone this year anyway. It was a wise decision for him to withdraw and come back next year. He will only get better and likely will be a solid first round pick next year.
• Stewart77 is fed up with the Spurs lack of a shutdown defender on the wing since Bruce Bowen left.
....being a spurs fan I have a high standard when it comes to defense. Are there any good defensive prospects at the small forward spot that could come in the spurs this year? And by prospects I mean draft, or free agency. - Stewart77
There are a bunch of suitable options via draft or free agency for a good defensive wing. Finding a player the level of a Bruce Bowen is unrealistic, however. He was a once in a decade type player. In the draft you have a couple of defensive prospects in the Spurs' draft range. David Lighty of Ohio St, Tyler Honeycutt of UCLA and Chris Singleton of Florida St all project to be good defensive player's in the pro ranks. Chris Singleton is the most promising of all these player's listed as he can guard the post and the wing. He reminds me of Josh Smith without the handle. Free agency brings a couple of options that could bring a upgrade to that position defensively. Tayshaun Prince is a unrestricted free agent, as is Shane Battier, Grant Hill, and Andre Kirilenko. A really good value could be had in Luc Mbah a Moute who is a unrestricted free agent as well. He could be had for rather cheap compared to the top tier wing defender's listed here. So lots of options here for the Spurs.
• Soto1ncrtol feels a immediate trade is necessary to upgrade the Spurs defensively.
We must make a trade and i am guessing TP and hopefully RJ it wouldn't be bad to trade Bonner as well we NEED to get back to a Defensive identity. - soto1ncrtol
While I agree with you that tightening up defensively needs to be a priority. I don't agree that it needs to come via trade. There are plenty of options in the draft and free agency. When you trade a player at the level of Tony Parker you have to get the best possible value for him, whether that be a great offensive big man or a good two-way player. With San Antonio being a small market team, they have less margin for error than most.
• Jtshoopsblog thinks the Spurs championship window is closed and they are middling at the level between contender and a team that needs to be broken up.
The problem with the Spurs is that they are stuck in the middle. The are not good enough to be considered championship material, but they are not bad enough to the team getting blown up. Their championship potential is all but over. That was shown in the Memphis series. Despite that, the Spurs can still win 50 odd games in the regular season. They'll always be a playoff caliber team, it's just their championship[ hopes are all but gone. All the Spurs can hope for is to ride out every season squeezing what little left from Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker have while ushering new players such as George Hill, Tiago Splitter, Gary Neal and DeJuan Blair to take over later. - jtshoopsblog
I don't think you can use the Memphis series as a barometer of the Spurs' current viability as a team. The Spurs' best player (Manu) was playing with a fractured elbow and players who were hitting shots all year - and against better teams - weren't in that series. Was some of that due to Memphis' defense? Yes. But I agree with Pop in saying that with a healthy Manu the Spurs win that series. And from there who knows what the Spurs could have done? If the Spurs had a healthy Manu and made it to the Finals and then lost to the Heat, would you be saying the Spurs window is closed? I think the majority of Spurs fans would say "no" and would be looking forward to next season with optimism. So I'm going to have to disagree with you jtshoopsblog. I think the Spurs need a few adjustments and will have as good of a chance as anyone next season.
• And to round out the mailbag my fellow Project Spurs staff writer Trevor Zickgraf offers up this gem regarding Spurs trade scenarios:
I think it'd be hilarious & infuriating if the Spurs got Luis Scola & Goran Dragic for Tony Parker. -Trevor Zickgraf
Would the Bucks trading Dirk Nowitzki to the Mavs for Robert Traylor be more infuriating for a fan base then Tony Parker to the Rockets for Luis Scola and Goran Dragic? That's a tough call.
Spurs doesn't need to trade TP,it will be just minor changes on their defense on frontcourt and on wing.As spurs fans i hate it when i saw Manu hurt his right arm on nonbearing games against Suns on end of regular seasons.It is very ridiculuos to have your key players play on nonbearing games.
@rnlmaningding Sadly that was one of the 3-4 games this season I did miss, so I can't really comment on them playing or how the play and everything played out. Obviously battling with the Bulls for the overall #1 spot did factor into the decision, and especially given what happened in Game 4 vs the Mavs, picking the Suns to go against was the better choice than the Lakers. I mean seriously, without hindsight, what do you think the odds are that the Suns injure a guy (not named Horry). And if Manu doesn't get hurt and they somehow get to the Finals and need a game 7 then Pop is heralded as a hero. But yes playing the odds they probably should have had the starters sitting given the amount of variables needed for that particular game to factor in.
As far as the TP trade, I agree they only need some more minor changes. I think the issue is that they don't really have the cap room or the trading pieces to do those minor changes without trading Parker since he is probably the most attractive trade asset they have. The list of people most fans (at least the ones on message boards) seem to want out are RJ, Bonner, Blair. No GM in their right mind is going to trade for just RJ unless its another high salary that isn't producing. Bonner and Blair are both going to have a limited amount of suitors because of their limitations (def, size, ect).So I think ultimately they may have to package Parker with some of those pieces to either create some cap room for the FA class, or to acquire some of the pieces they need through trade.
I'm not sure exactly what postion he plays bc I saw him bring up the ball up the court and I saw him run off a couple screens and create his own shot.....
@Spursfan84 I was just looking and finding a Brazilian team roster isn't as easy as I thought. I know who you're talking about, and yes, he made some of the American guards look silly.
I totally disagree with the premise that you cannot use the Memphis series as a barometer for the Spurs' current viability as a team. Why the hell not? All anyone has to do is watch the series. The NBA playoffs are like truth serum, in that a teams strengths and weaknesses will be either revealed or exposed. Memphsi only exposed deficiencies that many analysts and fans already knew were there. It's also disengenious to the Grizzlies to assume that had Ginobili been healthy (which h has not the past 3-4 playoff years) that the Spurs would've prevailed. As great a player as Ginobili is, he hardly would've prevented the Spurs from being pounding on the boards nor would he have been able to help the Spurs defend the paint or mitigate the manner in which the Spurs were man-handled on the frontline by the younger, quicker, taller Grizzlies team.
At some point, you must accept reality when it stares you in the face. The way to get better and the way to improve the team is by taking an honest assessment about its weaknesses and its needs. This cannot be accomplished by suffering from denial or making up excuses in the wake of unquestionable defeat. That's why I had no problem with Parker's recent comments. He plays the game and realizes where this team's weaknesses are. I only hate that he recanted theose comments.
@SenorSpur I don't disagree that the Memphis series is something of a barometer, but it isn't some kind of decisive factor in the discussion. It would be one thing if the Spurs had been blown-out in all of the losses like the Hawk in the Orlando series a couple of seasons ago. However the closeness of the series, with the exception of game 4, demonstrates the team wasn't particularly defective. Given the size advantage the Griz had and the inability of the Spurs to defend Z-Bo and Gasol, the games were still remarkably close and came down to miraculous shots from both sides (Manu and Neal in Game 5, Battier in Game 1, Z-Bo's 3 in Game 3).
As for the impact of Manu, its hard to say what it would have been. If he was healthy, maybe he opens up the lane more with his shooting, or maybe it becomes more congested due to his driving. Its impossible to know what a healthy Manu would have done, just like its impossible to know if the Griz play the same with Rudy Gay in the line-up. And I don't think you can blame Manu for being injured this season, its was a freak accident not some recurring/nagging injury like in the past seasons.
The Spurs should take away a couple lessons from the Griz series. First off they do need more size in their front court, not only because they now have Mcdyess to replace, but because it was a deficiency all season and it left an older Duncan with very little assistance defending the paint. Secondly they need a defensive-minded perimeter player if for no other reason that they have too many offensive-centric wing-players that give other teams a physical advantage. Finally they need to take away that this team wasn't a championship contender (because it didn't win one or compete for one in the finals), but with the right changes it could be. Its not like the Mavs were the proto-typical championship team.
PS: I do agree with Parker's comments. As constituted they aren't a championship team precisely because they can't rely on Duncan as much as they once did. That being said, if Splitter develops and they can get another big man contributor on both end of the floor in the front-court there is no reason to believe they cant at least be in the conversation. They won't be the favorites, but they never really have been.
I had a question and I was wondering if anybody can find out or knows who was the point guard/shooting guard for that Brazilian team. When they played at St Marys university here in san Antonio in the u19 tournament?? I think he was # 5 (not sure) he really did a number on the USA squad