Today’s just a normal summer day here in San Antonio, but it could have been game seven of the Western Conference Finals at the AT&T Center. Instead it’s a gloomy cloudy day outside where the sun is battling through thick clouds and scattered showers to shine.
As far as sports in the city go, the quiet day is a resemblance of the state the San Antonio Spurs are in right now, out of the playoffs and questioning, wondering how in the world they let a championship that should have been theirs, slip away.
Our own Trevor Zickgraf and Jason Rogers wrote some excellent pieces on the tragedy of the game six loss. Zickgraf addressed some of the offseason complications the Spurs now face, and Rogers wrote about how San Antonio was destined to win the title, but they let a series where they had all control be taken away by a hungrier and younger group from Oklahoma City.
Now the question becomes, after everyone thought this Spurs team had no weaknesses, what areas do they need to address in the offseason?
Set in Stone
From what I saw in the playoffs, the only solid position that is definitely set in stone is the small forward position. After that was a weakness with Richard Jefferson manning the position over the last two and half seasons, it has become the Spurs’ biggest strength with rookie Kawhi Leonard not only playing superb defense, but he was also providing offense as he was the Spurs’ fourth leading scorer. Then, the Spurs have Stephen Jackson coming off the bench. Jackson was huge in the Thunder series and kept finding a way to keep the Spurs in it with big three pointers just as it looked like they were about to wilt. Coach Gregg Popovich arguably has the best small forward tandem in the league right now. I can’t think of a better pair that are both defensive stoppers, and can bring offense by driving or shooting from distance. Plus, Popovich has the luxury of being able to play both on the floor at the same time. The small forward position is no longer an area the team needs to address in the offseason.
The Fourth Big Man
With the Spurs signing Boris Diaw, I think it was a great signing. He not only provided both offense and defense in a span of just two and a half months, but he provided more versatility when he was on the floor. I think the Spurs should push to resign him and with him playing with Parker in France this summer in the Olympics, and a full training camp and season under his belt in the silver and black, I think Diaw can double the production he showed this season.
Tiago Splitter showed he’s a usable big man off the bench because of his ability to run the pick-and-roll consistently and get to the foul line at a steady rate. The time when Splitter becomes somewhat of a deficiency is when teams play small against the Spurs. He’s just not quick enough to keep up with slashing guards and full court play. But with a third season, I think Splitter will get even better and have more responsibility in the Spurs’ game plan.
Assuming Tim Duncan resigns with the Spurs one to three more seasons, there leaves just one hole in their big man lineup. As Zickgraf pointed out, Matt Bonner once again disappeared when the Spurs needed him most and in my opinion, DeJuan Blair wasn’t going to make a huge difference even if he got a lot of minutes against the Thunder. So what kind of big man do the Spurs need? I think they need a taller (6’10"-7’0") big man that is defensive minded, meaning Duncan isn’t the only player who can hold the paint down, and the big man would need some sort of perimeter shot so that he could keep spacing on offense which is so vital to San Antonio.
The Spurs have two players they could bring over this summer stashed in Europe, Erazem Lorbek and Ryan Richards. All season I’ve read great reports about Lorbek’s ability to play in the post and shoot from the perimeter. But I don’t think he’s the defensive presence the Spurs need. Then there’s Richards, I haven’t heard much about him since the beginning of the season. Richards however is a seven footer who plays inconsistent defense (gets in foul trouble too easy) but can also shoot from the outside. I’m not sure if coach Popovich would have that trust in Richards like he did in Leonard this season as a rookie.
I haven’t done much college scouting due to being wrapped up in the Spurs’ lockout season, but maybe there’s a guy in the draft that possess those qualities the Spurs will be looking for. If he’s in the first round, the Spurs showed last year they wouldn’t hesitate to trade a role player for a draft pick. Or maybe he’s a hidden gem in the later rounds. R.C. Buford will be the one to make that decision.
The other guard not named Manu or Tony
Another reason why the Spurs lost to the Thunder was their consistent backcourt of Gary Neal and Danny Green. Neal continued to score points, but when the Spurs needed him to be a spark in the quarters where the team went cold, he followed along with the momentum of his teammates. Neal’s best ability is shooting the ball and being a scorer. He’s a mismatch on defense and struggled in the playoffs to play the backup point guard role, which isn’t entirely his fault. The Spurs still have Patty Mills to mold into their backup point guard if he picks up his player option and Neal can still be a good role player off the bench. Green went from a being someone the Spurs could rely on in the first two series to nonexistent against the Thunder. When Green and Neal were scoring in the first two rounds consistently, it allowed either Parker or Ginobili to have a bad or quiet game. But as the Spurs saw against the Thunder, since Neal and Green didn’t have a good series, Parker and Ginobili had to have big games every night in order for the team to win. They couldn’t play perfect in those last four games, and the result was the loss. Green is a free agent this summer and I think he might get another shot with San Antonio because it really was his first year as a starter and he did show he could play in the playoffs in the first two rounds, but going cold when it mattered most could have a huge role in where Green plays next season.
The Spurs need one more guard who can penetrate and have the ability to drive-and-kick because Parker and Ginobili just can’t do it by themselves anymore. They have Nando De Colo in Europe who has the ability to do that, but I see him more as a point guard and outside shooter rather than a guy who can get to the free throw line at a consistent rate. An Eric Bledsoe “type” player would be good for the Spurs because he has that ability to drive and get to the foul line while also being able to open the outside shooting. If there’s another slasher in this draft, the Spurs will surely look. If not, they can maybe look for that type of player to trade for or sign if there’s a free agent who possesses those abilities. One wild card in my opinion would be bringing Adam Hanga who they drafted last year over. Hanga is quick and athletic and good at driving and drawing contact. His shooting and individual defense still isn’t developed consistently, but if there’s a cheap way to find that other guard, Hanga might be a roll of the dice.
Buford and Coach Popovich are two of the best in the business at making moves and keeping their team amongst the best in the league. Yes, even though most thought this was the team to win it all and they didn’t, they’re still right there at the top with the contenders.
The Spurs just need a few moves and their younger players will all develop even more with a full training camp and full season coming up. It’ll be interesting to see what moves the front office makes this offseason, but the biggest move they’ll make is keeping number 21 in a Spurs uniform and on the floor.
If Duncan isn’t back, the Spurs are no longer a title contender and will be in rebuilding mode from one season to the other. It’s that simple.
In my own opinion, I will let go of Tiago Splitter, Mat Bonner and DeJuan Blair. Tiago is just another Rasho Nesterovic. Not aggressive inside the paint. While Mat Bonner and DeJuan Blair were not just effective. I will wait though for Davis Bertans (latvia, Who, I think, plays like Reggie Miller); Erazem Lorbek (Plays like Mehmet Okur) and Nando De Colo (France).
@Dandyness You are crazy. Splitter is better than Lorbek for the fact he's been in the NBA longer than he has especially in Pop's system. What your going to give Lorbek 30 minutes playing time? Right. He's probably going to see Splitter minutes. A wash so why ship one out and start all over with another that's no better. Just to remind you Rasho has a ring. And he earned it. You'll be waiting forever for Bertans that skinny kid just isn't an NBA player right now or in 3 years. Waste o time. Look at an entire game not some edited 2 minute career highlight video then you'll know why. Yeah he can shoot but can't defend worth a lick and by the time he gains 50 pounds Duncan is long gone. DeColo is the only one worth looking at in light of "eyegate"
Damn do you fools even read the articles? DeJuan is locked up for aother year. Nobody wants him or Bonner. Can't trade JA b/c he's a free agent, & nobody wanted him when he asked to be traded. No lottery team is gonna try & rebuild with Stephen Jackson! Players WILL sign with bigger market teams because they get more exposure & can make more in endorsements, that's just how IT IS. Anyone who thinks Holt is cheap is an IDIOT!
I think you guys are looking to high Ito the draft. You have to give up a ton to get that high and we aren't rebuilding. We have a solid team. I would shoot or trying to get Tyler Zeller. He is a big man who can potentially space the floor. I agree with dropping Binner but I think we can trade into the better part of the draft by sending Blair out. Yes we need to trade bonner but Blair is a good trading piece. Bonner on the other hand seems like a chip we could toss into any 3 team trade that might help make the money work.
@JosephPais Looks like you weren't at last years summer camp scrimmage. If he's anything like his siblings uh I'll pass.
actually as surprising as this may sound tyler zeller isnt like his siblings. he cant shoot 3's and actually barely shoots jump shots at all. he operates in the post and relies heavily on his hook shot (able to use both hands on the hook shot btw). so if youre thinking he'll space the floor then you're sorely mistaken, and if the spurs do want to go back to the old "twin towers" style of game zeller wouldnt do there either. yeah his offense is polished "enough" but his defense leaves much to be desired. on other teams he'll do as a reliable center but for the spurs system he'd probably be a backup center which wouldnt be an upgrade from tiago cause his defense isnt better. i said it before, the spurs need that spread 4 (or at least one with an 18 ft jumper) who can play DEFENSE as well. the guards are set and so is SF and unless we're shooting high lottery or spending a lot of $ (which we are doing neither) tiago is our best shot at playing backup center like this past year.
Bonner is not worth his salary. Two more years and a little over 7 million, no thanks.
Blair can probably be resigned cheap. Yes please (backup C)
Anderson is gone for sure.
I wonder how much Timmy wants? Vets minimum gives him the best chance of getting good teammates.
@JohanBeijerBlair is just too small to be playing center or power forward. Are you blind? An intriguing question is trading Jackson. His salary is $10K. Those drafting 2-10 may be interested. He could be a leader. With that, the Spurs can trade for Drummond, Robinson, MKG or somebody long, big and aggressive. The remainder of the money can be used to sign kaman, okafor or humphries and even Illyasova. There are talks that the Celtics maybe interested in Green. Trade him and draft Royce White or Nicholson or Terrence Ross. Maybe there are teams willing to take blair, bonner, anderson and Splitter. Trade them then exercise the 59th draft. Everybody happy?
@rtesoro440 @JohanBeijer Leave Splitter out of that group. Too good to let go and get nothing that's going to return dividends. By the way anything that involves Blair, Bonner in a trade you will not get something useful in return. We are screwed. Did I read your post right? Jackson for a 2-10 pick by himself? You would not last a day in the FO.
@Spursforever69 We will be ok with our current roster. With a proper training camp and full season Mills will be better equiped to back up Parker, or maybe Joseph will step up after time with the Toros and a training camp. Diaw will get more experience in our system. I think if they can make a move or two to upgrade they will, maybe Bonner and Blair for a defensive minded big with a decent shot. The problem about blowing up the team is that the Spurs have a hefty playbook, and it is a lot to learn. If we get all new players it will only put us back a season or two, a season or two Timmy and Manu don't have.
@rtesoro440 @Spursforever69 How would you suppose they move up to draft MKG? Trade Manu? People are talking about trading Jackson, but his reputation precedes him, and most teams won't touch him. He works well with the Spurs anyway. Green alone isn't going to get us a high pick. Even then does it make sense to trade him for an unknown rookie? I still contend that he is a good player and if he doesn't command a lot of our cap space we need to keep him.
Javale Mcgee, Chris Kaman, Nicholas Batum and possibility Ryan Richards, I'm sick of hearing that he's too young to raw that's just what the spurs need a young raw beast out there with his outside game, have Tim Duncan show him about the post he could cause a mismatch fit for defenders. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying he'll be a savior but get him over here and see what he got Bonner,Blair,Anderson, may be out of there. Mcgee would be perfect, young can run the floor and plays great defense Spurs need their old style of play back multiple bigs controlling the paint and lock down wing players. But the players I just named could be key addition I also like the idea of Dragic.
@ZILLA Richards just isn't good enough right now. The best competition he will have gotten to date will be in the Olympics with the Jamaican team. I've said enough.
If the Spurs are serious in rebuilding and replacing its NPAs, Non-Performing Assets booner, blair, anderson, green mills and splitter they don't have to look far. At the end of the season there are many free agents available. Big men like kaman, okafor, humphries and high profile Lamar Odom are available at the right price. Even players like Mahinmi, david west, al jefferson, Milshap, clark are available. Wingmen like korver, Illyasova, Wright, Tony Allen, Damiion Jones, deequan cook, Ariza, cjmiles are ready to sign. PG like cjwatson, livingston are ready to come in. What about it coach Pop and GM Buford? Don't give us such alibis as small market. Don't be stingy in spending. The door is wide open for you. Don't be shy! You owe this much to the Spurs fans.
@rtesoro440 here's a link that has a breakdown on how the Spurs payroll is currently laid out, and what they have to work with next year.
I've been high on getting Hibbert for a while now, but looking at that it can't happen with the salaries. I thought Timmy's new contract would give them some wiggle room, but it doesn't look like it. They're going to have to be creative to upgrade the roster.
@rtesoro440 you know the spurs have like the second highest payroll in the league, right? I think on average per player they rank in the top 10 or 20 in payroll in all professional sports. They are anything but stingy. Eventually you have to cut off $ somewhere. Holt has been willing to take on the luxury tax several times and as a fan I thank him for being a good owner and hiring the right people to give us such a great team!
@rtesoro440 Yes they play for money, but not money alone. Lebron could have made more money, but he wanted to form his super-team in Long Beach with Wade and Bosh. Some players nearing the end of their careers will forgo a high paycheck for a good chance at a title (kind of where Nash is now). Like I said before the Spurs looked washed up after losing to the Grizzlies last year, so that probably didn't help draw free agents. The Clippers and the Heat were the hottest teams last preseason. That's where Battier & Buttler went. San Antonio has never had a history of signing top free agents. They have always avoided us, And the players are mercenaries for sale as you say, but only when another team owns their rights. If they are free agents they are able to sign where they want for whatever reason. Maybe their aunt lives in Boston, or they like the girls in Miami. Who knows, but during free agency there is more than just money that they consider. The bigger markets also have more opportunities for endorsement deals than smaller markets. So with even offers from a small or large market, they can make more off of the larger market shilling their face for those companies.
My friend, these players play for money regardless where. Its just the question of how much except possibly TD. They are all mercenaries for sale!
@rtesoro440 I don't know that it was completely because of money. the clippers and heat are (were) the hottest teams in the league. The clippers acquired Chris Paul and we're supposed to be THE team of L.A. The heat are just the heat, nuff said. The spurs were coming off a first round loss to the grizzlies. Everyone thought they were too old to compete anymore. I can't tell you why Howard went to Utah. That was probably more money. If you were a young, rich basketball player would you rather live in L.A., Miami or san antonio? I'm not sure how the current CBA works but the way it was set up owners had to pay $1 for every dollar they went over the payroll limit. POP has done this in the past, but 1 million becomes 2 million Iand you have to decide how much you are going to spend. It's a business, he's not paying to make us happy. He want a great team as much as the rest of us (probably more so). I think Holt has done more for the team and the fans than most owners do. Again thank you Peter Holt for giving us such a talented team that we have had the privledge of watching compete for titles the past 15 years or so. Other teams and their fans are excited to make the playoffs. We are spoiled and its the finals or nothing for spurs fans. That's our pedigree.
Goran Dragic is an UFA this summer snd only made 2.5M. He would give us the attacking point gaurd who can get to the line and hit the open man.
@Jrcamaro02 I would be really excited if that happened, but I don't want to get my hopes up as I'm sure dragic could start somewhere else.
@Jrcamaro02 I love this idea. Major fan of Dragic :D I remember him killing us as a Sun a few years back. A great complementary player to TP!
Couple things... The Spurs need to get some size. I'd love to see them get a center in the draft but I don't think we have the assets to trade for a high pick. Everyone is focused on being better than the Thunder... I think this is a mistake. We need to get better at being versatile to play any team in the league, we can't forget that the NBA is all about matchups. Just because we played OKC this year doesn't mean we will play them next year. The Lakers and Dallas are going to come back with something fierce and those guys can't be counted out. Pop and R.C. will have their eyes wide open at the entire league not just OKC..
Diaw can replace Bonner. We could consider playing Kawhi at the 2 and look for a 3 to play with Jack. Kawhi will learn to dribble through traffic soon and finish. T Williams is available, and Neal is more of a drive and finish guy off the bench, so it looks like DG either develops handles this Summer or maybe has no real role. There are cheap shot blocking 4's such as: A Randolph. D. Wright, M. Speights, Hawes, Jason Thompson, H. Whiteside, DJ White, etc. Richards should be given a shot with most time in the D league to get aclimated, but noone knows what's going on with him after he left his team for personal reasons. Lorbek is too slow, as is DeColo. Hanga needs more time and help with his shot.
I think with up tempo style we now play that we need a weak side help shot blocker that can shot a 15ftr with consistency. When we lost McDyess, it left a whole. I guy like Ibaka played that role for OKC and we had no one who would defend the mid range shot . Bonner can go with Blair for a high draft pick, if we are lucky and try to get Drummond as a future 5 to develop or see what can be done with guys like D Pittman over a few years development. The guys list for shot blockers above are all under $4mil, ;leaving a few bucks for a slasher like William or D. Jones. It is great to have only small pieces to add and not wholesale changes to be good for the next few years.
Is there a move we can make to be better than the Thunder? I'm not too sure. I think we'll be a contender again next season, and if a few breaks go our way with the current roster we have a shot at winning a title again. I don't think we need to add any major player to this roster to win a championship, we just happen to have our shooters go cold at the worst possible time, it happens. I'm still stunned why Matt Bonner can't produce in the playoffs, I mean he's such a great shooter. Him not shooting the ball well was the most important part of our offense not being able run as efficient. Him and Ginobili in the regular season outscored every other duo in the league per possession, in the playoffs they were the worst duo, I mean how can you possibly go from the best to worst? It's a shame, Bonner finally started playing good defense tooI still think signing Diaw is a priority, and Patty mills will be a great back up. I would trade either Neal/green if I could get a Drummond in the draft. We have too many quality shooters in our wing position. we should trade a few for 1st round picks like we did with George Hill.
Also I have heard the Kings are not resigning Evans, he could be the "slasher" we're looking for.
I don't think we have to worry about Duncan coming back. He will come back. He said he's a Spur for life and it sounds like he doesn't want to retire yet.
So, now that we got that out of the way, I think it's pretty clear that we need a backup point guard (which I feel Mills could fill that role, if he decides to return and Nando De Colo could help too, if he decides to come over) and an athletic big who can score, rebound and block shots. Where does that big come from? I'm not sure, but I hope we can that type of player.
The only big man really with range in the draft is perry jones from baylor. Some others can shoot but are mostly built better for post play. Jones is projected in the lottery so id take a massive trade up to get him. We don't just need a jumpshooting big mman but one who plays d too. We need another horry but I don't see many guys who fit that mold just yet in the nba. Also, I love neal and his general ballsiness but he should probably go. Patty is way more equiped to play back up pg and is quicker defensively (not necesarily better). Green doesn't have the offensive of a neal but I think our biggest chance is to hope he develops it cause I don't think neal can develop greens D and we need that. But yeah get rid of bonner, maybe neal, and see if throwing in blair gets us a lottery pick. Most likely we'll get some raw big but it could help. And then for that last guard id say bring de colo or hanga to take neals place.
everyone on that list is gona come with a high price and none really help the spurs spread the floor system with the exception of illyasova. i juuuuust thought of a free agent though that is short for a 4 but hustles like crazy, compensates for his lack of height and might be exactly what we're looking for in a robert horry type role. antawn jamison from the cavs is a free agent this year. i know hes not amazing but he is exactly the type of guy we're looking for. a big who fights for rebounds, has a consistent 3 ball and...plays better D than bonner. he's diaw without the passing and without the fat. the only other guy on the market that fits that bill this year that comes to mind is lamar odom and thats not gona happen. i say looking into jamison could be a good move
If it take years to develop adraftee, its better for the spurs to consider free agency. Hibbert, Kaman, Okafor, Illyasova, Humphries, etc. are all available after the season, Dispose off the NPAs of the team, that is Non-Performing Assets like Bonner, Blair, Anderson, Green, Mills and Splitter. These guys are lemon and they disappear during crunch time.
@rtesoro440 @aespurs Just a question, what makes Mills an NPA? He didn't even get a chance to play in crunch time. If he opts in, then he's on the team and I think he could be a serviable backup to TP. At the very least he wouldn't constantly worry me that the ball will be stolen from him bringing it up the court like Neal does.
I totally agree, altought Lorbek is a great player he won't help. Any way he's averaging 20 points in the spanish finals.
I hink that league is where Splitter came from. Lorbek could be another lemon.
The writer is absolutely right and I have been pointing that out even last year. The sf position solved in Leonard and Jackson but, they have to add more. If Bertans is ready, they should sign him. He is 6'10", as big as durant. He can shot beyond the arc. The writer is also correct, the weakness of the Spurs in the interior. TD can't do it alone. Diaw helped some but, they still need help. Splitter is NOT the answer. He can't even make free throws. He MUST be traded. The writer points out the deficiency in the sg position. He is right. Green and Neal can't do it. They crumbled during crunch time. Coach Pop and GM Buford have to help Manu. They have to trade to get it. And the pg position. I think TP made his level best, he gave it all but, he was alone. He gets tired and when he gets out, nobody of consequence subs. Offense collapses DeColo can help.. Remedy: First look at the free agency. Maybe they can lure Hibbert, Kaman, Okafor, Illyasova, Humphries and etc. They become available at the end of the season.Lorbek will NOT help. He is NOT the player they are looking for. He can shoot but can't defend. Shades of Bonner. Richards is young and raw. He won't help. Adam Hanga may help. He can play sg and he is long. maybe Kris Joseph or English. There is the player from Vanderbilt. His slips my mind. He 6'8" and he plays sg. The efforts of the big 3 was doomed when they started. There are so many NPAs, Non-Performing Assets in the lineup. Bonner, Blair, Anderson, GREEN, Mills and SPLITTER have to go. If is glaring in the thunder games. They are lemons, they ALL disappear during crunch time. 2nd, look for trade partners for the ist round. There are several teams with multiple ist round drafts. Now, coach Pop, GM Buford, or whoever dictates spending, STOP giving the alibi that San Antonio is a small market. STOP being stingy. If these guys want the Spurs to contend, do it otherwise, forget it. Pls be reminded that basketball is a game where height is might. I know you know it!
@rtesoro440 You keep saying that Okafor WILL BE a free agent after the season which is not true. He will only be a free agent if he is amnestied. And being in a small market will not be the excuse this offseason, it's that under the new CBA, the spurs just cannot spend that much money. Don't get me wrong I would love to have Hibbert or Kaman on the team, but I just don't think the Spurs can figure out a way to sign any of the players you mentioned. Sign and trade maybe, but I highly doubt we have anything the pacers or hornets would want in return for some of their better players.
@Spurs21 I think mills could be a viable option with a full training camp and regular season to develop in the system. He seems just as fast as TP if not maybe faster. The little guy was quick the few minutes I did get to see him play. If TP can show him the ropes maybe he can break some ankles for us next year!
@Spurs21He's too small. TYhe Spurs need a longer, bigger and fast and quick with court vision. Maybe Nando deColo could help.