It's important to preface this entire column by saying I have no idea how bad Tony Parker's eye injury is. None of us will know until at least July 5 when Parker flies to New York and meets with an eye specialist.
I'm also one of the Spurs fans who isn't that worried about Parker's eye. I feel like he got lucky that he went to the emergency when he did (though he should've gone straight there). I also feel like when he gets cleared by that eye specialist that he's going to hate wearing protective goggles.
None of us have any idea if he's OK, but we'll start to get a better idea of how worried the Spurs may or may not be starting with tomorrow night's NBA draft.
Aside from a handful of second round workouts, we haven't heard a peep about any draft night plans the Spurs have. And why would we? Last season we didn't hear about the Kawhi Leonard trade until after Indiana drafted him. We knew they were interested in Davis Bertans, but didn't know if they'd draft him in the first round or the second round.
We hadn't even heard Cory Joseph's name until they drafted him. Two years ago, James Anderson had to shut down his workouts because of an injury so we weren't sure if they'd grab him. So yeah, there's a really good chance we're not going to hear anything until it happens.
Having said that, if they make a move we'll know pretty quickly whether it's a Parker-related move.
Let's assume they build a package around Tiago Splitter. It's my belief that depending on the team, the Spurs could use a Splitter-centered package and get anywhere in between picks 10 and 16 (not to say that'd they'd be interested in trading Splitter for a late lottery draft pick or lower).
That would mean they could draft an athletic big guy like Terrence Jones, Meyers Leonard, Tyler Zeller, Perry Jones III or Arnett Moultrie. If the Spurs were to trade Splitter for one these more explosive big guys, we could deduce that Tony Parker's eye is probably in OK shape.
However, let's say San Antonio trades into the 10-16 range and drafts someone in the Dion Waiters, Damion Lillard, Austin Rivers, Kendall Marshall group. We could assume that they're as worried about Parker as some Spurs fans are.
It could also mean that they didn't have enough guys that could create off the dribble and this is the cheapest and most effective way to do it. Waiters, Rivers and Lillard are all in the Tony Parker mold and presumably could help fill a Parker void quickly (I'd be stunned if Lillard is still available at 10).
We all know the Spurs need help inside as much as anywhere else, so why would they trade in to a lottery that is deep at the power forward/center position and draft a guard instead if they aren't worried about Parker's health?
The NBA Draft is my favorite non-game night of the year, whether the Spurs have a first round pick or not. I love the trades. I love when teams make wild card picks. I love Darth Stern making the announcement and having to look all the way up at the power forwards and centers during the hand shake.
There's this sense of hope and opportunity about the NBA Draft that you don't see many other nights in sports. However, Thursday night will come with some extra intrigue.
Will the Spurs make a move? If they do will it be a small move? Will it be another game changer like the Kawhi trade? Will it involve Tony Parker's protege/replacement or will it involve a big man that can protect the rim with or without Tim Duncan in the game?
We'll find out Thursday night, but don't expect to hear anything before that. We're still talking about the Spurs, after all.
So what EXACT package you are talking about? Splitter for a mid-1st round pick? You really think other teams will do that? Seriously? The only way to get 1st round picks is to include TP or Kawhi in the trade. Other than these 2 players don't have trade value.
In the past few weeks I have stated that I don't believe that Splitter is the center the Spurs need going into the "post Duncan years". I believe we need more of an "enforcer" type to clog things up,block shots,grab rebounds, deter little guys from driving to the basket and be able to keep post players (Howard,Perkins,Bosh,etc...) from getting to the rim. I know some folks disagree and some agree. I have been called everything possible from both sides. I respect all of your opinions even if I disagree with them. I still believe we should bring ALL the european guys over and use them to the teams best advantage either as players or trade pieces. Again...Bonner, Blair, Splitter, Mills, Joseph, Anderson (yes, I know some would require "sign and trade" deals) leaving would not upset me!
I commented on Hanga and Bertans' presence in San Antonio yesterday; maybe evaluating them is an indicator of possible movement Thursday night? A possible scenario would be to trade Neal and Splitter to Washington (Neal is from D.C. area) for the #3 pick. We then draft Thomas Robinson or someone of that ilk. D.C. needs a shooting guard and bringing Neal home would be a net positive for everyone involved, akin to bringing Hill home to Indy last year. This is just hypothetical though, but I'm trying to fit the pieces together since it would make sense (sort of) for both teams. After attaining T-Rob, we could bring Hanga and De Colo over to overtake the losses of possibly Patty Mills and Neal, all the while we obtain our big man of the future.
If that doesn't happen I would be extremely happy with a consolation prize of Terrence Jones, who averaged about 12 and 9 with 1.8 bpg. He would be a welcome addition that could bring athleticism to our front line, that athleticism we lacked against OKC. He's versatile too, a lot like Ryan Richards but with more experience. Again, these scenarios have an extremely small chance of playing out, but I'm pretty sure the Spurs are pondering them in their pre-draft War Room.
If not, then "with the 59th pick in the NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs select Hakuna Matata from Bulgaria."
I have great hope for Ryan Richards to eventually replace Duncan. Wishful thinking? Quite possibly... Heresy? Maybe... Is his too immature? Perhaps currently... Raw? Definitely... but he's young, moldable, has the size, and appears to have the agility of The Admiral. Under the tutelage of Duncan and/or The Admiral in SA, I could see a mature Richards dominate in a few years. If only a couple of the other young guys (De Colo, Hanga, Bertans, "Whi", Mills, Green, or future draft picks... sticks around and does as expected... we'll have a serious contender for many more years. I'm not even including the 28-30 guys who still have a lot of gas left in the tank (Parker, Diaw, Lorbek, Neal, Splitter. The future looks bright... my only concerns is how the loss of so much of Spurs Mgt will affect things long term... and the forthcoming loss of our mastermind. Who will take over after Pop...? This is the biggest issue facing the Spurs in the next 3-5 years.
I don't know if Richards fits the bill. The videos we are seeing him play are dwarves, with him the only one big. Anyway, I hope you are right for the sake of the Spurs.
I dont think the spurs need a new parker or ginobili or even replacements.. They need a a new duncan, i dont mean to spoil spurs fan cause my point is they need another Duncan just like what happened in David Robinson's Era.. Spurs is a great team they are the fundamentals of basketball but lets face it! these guys aint growing younger each day.. I really love to see the spurs rise again.
The Rockets will pick draft #l4 and may draft Zeller. Will he be traded to the Spurs for Splitter and some other players? But they might be shedding Dalembert? NO, NOT him please!