Moments after a heartbreaking loss in the NBA Finals, discussion quickly turned from the brilliant season the San Antonio Spurs had just submitted, to speculation on whether it was their last go round.
Would Manu Ginobili play another season? Would Tiago Splitter be retained? A resounding no to either question would have freed up significant cap space for the Spurs to dabble in a free agent market that included intriguing players in Paul Millsap and Josh Smith. But the Spurs have long favored continuity of their program, and, perhaps recognizing time is short and contention possibilities favorable with this roster, quickly brought back the same team with slight changes on the fringes in substituting Marco Belinelli and Jeff Ayres for the departing Gary Neal and DeJuan Blair.
It was hardly shocking, considering the Spurs are the Spurs. Continuity leads to successful chemistry on the court, but boredom in our comments sections, rumor mills, and Twitter. That’s why, when presented with any bit of speculative insider information on the Spurs, it’s gleefully devoured.
The latest? This one paragraph mention in a larger piece from Ken Berger of CBS Sports:
“We've been predicting the Spurs' last hurrah for years, but this time it might really be the end of the road. The Spurs have been unusually aggressive trying to upgrade their roster in the trade market, a signal to rival execs that Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford realize this might be the final shot at a title with the triumvirate of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Duncan, 37, has a $10.4 million player option for next season, and Parker's future also has to be addressed; only $3.5 million of his $12.5 million for next season is guaranteed.”
First, Duncan and Ginobili are in their late 30’s; each season you mention their last hurrah, you’re increasing more likely to be right than wrong. Second, “unusually aggressive” is relative. Does it mean unusually aggressive for them, which wouldn’t take much, or unusually aggressive relative to normal NBA activity? The important thing to keep in mind, before letting your imagination run wild, is that aggressively pursuing a deal doesn’t necessarily mean pursuing an aggressive deal, or one that would drastically alter the team’s composition.
It’s important to remember the Spurs are still an elite team with unparalleled depth, as evident by their place atop the Western Conference standings. But they value process over results during the regular season, and there’s been some slippage of the defense recently, a rough start on offense from their starting lineup, and a lack of “signature wins” against elite teams. There’s both room for improvement and concern over slippage.
So if the Spurs were active in the trade market, what chips do they have to bargain with, and what needs do they have? In constructing deals, it’s important to consider that first and foremost, the Spurs consider themselves viable championship contenders, even if there can be disagreement over their exact odds. These opportunities are rare, and wasting them for the prospects of an uncertain future is not likely to happen. Any move made has to be viewed in the context of upgrading now, or moving laterally immediately while shedding assets for better prospects moving forward.
The Prime Assets: Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard
If the Spurs were aggressively seeking to shake things up, these would be the two most valuable assets they have on the table. It’s not likely to happen because they’re largely (and rightfully) untouchable.
Parker is the only elite Spurs player still in his prime, though likely entering the downside of it. A move for Parker is a signal that a team is prepared to go all-in immediately, and it’s hard to fathom such a trading partner with enough assets to make it worth the Spurs while without leaving the cupboards too bare to compete.
Leonard is still young enough to grow with a team, and good enough to contribute significantly right now, that almost every front office in the NBA would be willing to move considerable resources to obtain him. The problem is his ceiling is too high to make a move laterally, and his skill set fills too many gaps in the Spurs roster (elite perimeter defense, length on the wings, athleticism, the ability to play heavy minutes at high levels, rebounding) to consider moving him for anything but one of the top 10-15 players in the NBA. The Spurs best two assets would be their most untouchable, if not for the next two players.
The Tenured Professors: Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan
Their immediate basketball value is still very high, even if it’s not quite what it once was. Duncan arguably remains a top-10 player in his limited minutes, and Ginobili one of the NBA’s most important subs.
Both would immediately raise the bar on any team, but too briefly to make it worthwhile to return enough value. And even if a team was willing to make that call, they’re embedded enough in the Spurs culture that the Spurs aren’t listening to offers. Duncan’s not going anywhere. It doesn’t make any basketball sense in the world, but the Heat could call and offer up LeBron James, and I’d still say no. And the Spurs likely value San Antonio’s infrastructure too much to risk the rioting in the aftermath of a Ginobili trade.
The Viable Assets: Danny Green and Tiago Splitter
Danny Green is not a prospect. He is what he’s always going to be, a quality defender (though not a stopper) who can space the floor and find soft spots in the defense; and one that should never ever be asked to create his own shot, or dribble in any way, shape, or form.
But shooting and defense have become very valuable commodities in the NBA, and at a contract set at fair market rate, a rebuilding team might be willing to cast off a veteran upgrade for a complementary player that can grow with their other young pieces.
The problem is negotiating a deal that doesn’t weaken too much of what the Spurs will need from Green in the playoffs, namely defending Westbrook/Jackson and Steph Curry.
At his best, Green has largely been responsible for defending opposing point guards and shifty shooting guards, freeing Kawhi Leonard to do other things (like guarding Kevin Durant, or Klay Thompson), and allowing Tony Parker to conserve energy. Ideally, a Green trade would provide an all-around upgrade at shooting guard, or return an asset the Spurs don’t currently have on the roster—an athletic power forward that can stay on the court against teams that can force the Spurs out of their Duncan-Splitter alignments. There are a growing number of worrisome playoff opponents capable of doing this: they include the Thunder, Heat, Warriors, and Rockets.
Splitter is hurt, has his limitations, but has known value to analytically driven teams. He’s entering his prime, and though some consider him overpaid, his contract actually measures up well to what other big men get on the market. It took years for the Spurs to find a viable partner for Tim Duncan that would return the Spurs defense to elite levels. Is Splitter moveable? Probably more so than you’d think, but tread with caution.
Boris Diaw is a significant factor for the Spurs because his versatility and passing are amplified by the system, while downplaying his limitations. His value is high only in very specific contexts. Matt Bonner is a spot player, but legitimate stretch four. They both have some value to the Spurs, but as outgoing pieces of a deal, the most important aspects of their value is that they have a little bit of meat on their expiring contracts while being viable rotation pieces.
Any Spurs deal is likely to operate along the fringes of their roster and assets, where draft picks, overseas prospects, and their 8-15th spots on the roster come into play. The Spurs can’t absorb contracts freely, so some dollar figures will have to go out with any of these fringe assets to make deals work.
It’s hard to speculate on any deals the Spurs might make, mostly because once a rumor reaches the public, it’s almost certain that said rumor is dead. Additionally, the Spurs role players are already good enough to contend for a championship team. Rearranging the furniture isn’t going to move the needle much.
As you get deeper into the playoffs, depth matters less, and elite players more. The Spurs title chances largely rest on Duncan, Leonard, and Parker playing at elite levels under a heavy minutes workload with Manu Ginobili ably filling the gaps. It’s hard to construct a trade that upgrades the top seven of the Spurs rotation players with the assets they have. Nevertheless, feel free to try. You know how to find the ESPN Trade Machine, you can hit us up on Twitter @BlanchardJRB or @ProjectSpurs. Send a few, I’ll give them some space here, pitch it to other team’s bloggers, and we can have a fun weekend go of it.
trade green, get him the heck out of here,,, package him up with Splitter and lets go get a big man like Gasol or Love..
Tiago,DeColo,Patty,Cory Jo,Bonner,Ayers,Baynes,Green and our 1st round draft picks (it's not like we use them anyways) We can package any of these players in some kind of deal.Oh yeah and why the hell we signing another guard I know it's only a 10 day contract but really another guard that puts 8 guards on the roster.We need a stretch 3/4 athletic Ahhhhhhhh!!!!
@Rambler , agree but it would also be nice to find someone that could also help get Tim his fifth championship !
I feel like we would benefit from a move that added a piece to our team that could develop over the next season and a half before becoming a key piece in the post Duncan/Manu era. Somebody who can compliment and grow with Leonard. We aren't a club that free agents will rush to join - especially with TD and Manu gone. We need to be planning for what comes next now.
this trade should be done immediately
both teams win
I see no reason to put Diaw in any trade is a very important structure Spurs player.
Players who would sell : Danny Green, Nando de Colo, Cory Joseph or Matt Bonner.
size addition... jazz are not using kanter that much anymore...
This one is possible...
I also like this trade...
this seems to be impossible...but still may work =))
WELL....i think the houston rockets are not anymore interested in Omer Asik.... i think this trade can work....or if not, be modified
An upgrade over Danny Green:
An upgrade to the Bigs (I view Diaw as a Viable Asset):
Some other ideas:
D. Arthur & Andre Miller
T. Chandler & I. Shumpert
Hopefully the Spurs do make a GREAT trade before the trade deadline and they get rid of Matt Bonner, he does not shoot threes this season like he has in the past. Time to ditch Bonner and move on to someone who can contribute to the team instead of riding the bench and scoring 1 or 2 points a game.
@bgd1965 #1 wolves would NEVER do that deal..#2 Love wants to be a laker
@GuadalupeLopez You honestly believe that Denver would give up an all star on a min. salary for a couple of D-leaguers? C'mon man.
@AaronGoldstein so you want to give up a very good perimeter defender in green and a scorer, facilitator, and defender in Diaw for a "me-first" guy who demands a trade from a winning team bc he want to play more. Spurs lose big if this would happen. Plus you would have a log jam at the center spot.
@Big 3 SpursAgree..too many underestimating Diaws value
@WOWWOWBADThey are rebuilding..
@ManuParkerI think you are criminally underrating Diaws value to the Spurs
@ManuParkerI believe KG still is one of the few NBA players to have a no trade clause.
@ManuParkerEnes is still getting 20+ mpg in last couple mos and more the 1st couple mos of this year than last two. I dont think that means Jazz are giving up on 21 year old big. I also think Tiago is the a better option starting C and Boris better in Spurs system than Enes could be this and next year, which is really the major point as we all know, Spurs #1 concern NOW is to put the best roster together that they can to win NOW while still in the Tim/ Manu era.
@ManuParkerlol..doubt detroit feels the same
@ManuParkerROX +3 Wins Spurs -3..just sayin
@koshwayneThe value that Matt should bring to the spurs is making the outside shot when a big game is on the line.....history tells no lies.....he is trade material !
@koshwayneI get your point to a degree but Matt has NEVER averaged 1-2 ppg in his entire career, although this year has been his lowest thus far at 3.4. But that is because of his lowest mpg of his career at 11 per. Unlike years past, Spurs finally have a stable of bigs other than Matt that have deserved more PT and obviously that limits Matt so far this year. Second, Matt doesnt have a terrible contract. It's in line with the league avg for a guy like him for the most part. That said, since his deal is now considered expiring, that does add to his trade-ability now. You might however want to take a look at vet bigs that make below 4 mil per yr that have an elite skill like the 3pt shot as Matt does to hopefully better gauge your expectations.
@jhhein So building a team around an undersized PF who many shoots >10ft from the basket is a below avg defender, and is not a crunch time player, is someone you can build around? No chance, not while pop is alive.
@Spursfan66 @koshwayne I NEVER said in his career he scores 1-2 points a game, were talking about this trade deadline the topic is before 2014 "trade deadline". When Pop puts him in the game to contribute he scores in that 1-2 points in a game, not his career, you said career not me. His minutes a game is beyond my control, not a coach but I know as a fan the team needs contributors and like the management says they are going to be "aggressive" in this free agency. My opinion, Matt Bonner needs to go and the Spurs will hopefully find a big that can replace him. Pop obviously don't play him for reasons, when he puts Matt Bonner in a game he don't contribute like he used to. Haven't seen a 3 point machine like he was and that is something the management will figure out in the coming weeks. My expectations is to see my team win the 2014 NBA Finals, if the team wants to win they will do anything in their power to get rid of players. I want to see the "big 3" to remember 2014 because the Spurs "aggressively" traded players to reach that NBA Finals level again and hope to win it all. My expectations are high for my team, in with the new out with the old and Matt Bonner is old news, time to get a big that can rebound.
@jhhein He absolutely would. He would be great on a really good squad
Surround love with the right players and you could have a contender for years to come, Pop is just the right coach to find this players !
@Spursfan66 @koshwayne Your life is a playground at the rest home you old man, your mind is in a backward motion, all your doing is making a fool of yourself. Just quit replying so I won't shove facts in your face any longer, you took it all personal and look where you are with this, going too far old timer. 1966 sure is awhile back, like waaaay back, too far back in time. Your meaning of words are weary, your just old and miserable. Like they say, don't start anything you can't finish and if my words toward you are hurting, too badd! Just stop replying and thats my advice to you, take it!
@Spursfan66 @koshwayne SpursFan66 means you been around since 1966? Wow your well over 40 years old and your referring to your own meltdown, your aging as we speak lol your no way mean, annoying but not mean. Continue to dissolve on ProjectSpurs.com, you miserable old man. Keep Googling your facts at your rest home computer lol
@Spursfan66 @koshwayne Your calling me out and that makes you an expert at Googling the Spurs dynasty? That's cute, your Francis on the video, your Psycho? With the brown bag over your face on your default it makes sense, your an old man that sits on his computer all day and disputes on ProjectSpurs.com, making yourself look smart in all ways by Googling the Spurs dynasty. Lol. I may not have been born when the franchise has begun but I have an opinion, they will get rid of Matt Bonner before the deadline, if he doesn't leave by then, I didn't lose a bet against you old timer. He just stays and this conversation didn't go anywhere, you Googled everything you put out for ProjectSpurs to read and we got a thrill. *Round of applause*
@Spursfan66 @koshwayne If you see how Matt Bonner's performance is every game, he don't score every game. Whether if his minutes or low, he doesn't get his name called and he either has a free throw or two by drawing a foul, that is why I say he scores 1-2 points a game. If you average it out he scores 1-2 points a game not in his WHOLE career or a night in Minnesota, no I am not saying either. By saying all that my SUPPOSED claim is not accurate I know that before I commented on this Blog, it's an "exaggeration", all I want is for the Spurs to get rid of him and move onto to someone who can rebound, not be a 6'10" forward sitting on the bench night in and night out. Yeah he might have had a few great nights but what I feel which everyone is stuck to their own opinion is, the Spurs will get rid of him like they say "it's a business" and not to get an emotional connection over a player, you and I are talking about Matt Bonner not the "big 3". Do you pay me to look for BIGS for your pleasure now? Do I work for you? I don't HAVE to Google what you did awhile ago as your sitting at your computer and Googling all the BIGS that compare to Matt Bonner. Your advice is your opinion, not taking it in any way, shape or form.
@koshwayne@Spursfan66Of course you dont care what he averages, because it doesnt support your claim of 1-2 points a game. And no offense, but implying that Matt is like a big reason for the Spurs SUPPOSED "aggressive" trade dealings atm is reaching. Spurs still value Matt for many good reasons, and will very likely stand pat as has been the norm for the most part in the last several years. And the fact that you didnt even try to find some bigs that make what Bonner does and would definitely make the Spurs better, speaks volumes.
If its even true that Spurs are actually "aggressively" working the trade route, Im pretty certain they are more concerned with b/u sf than their bigs. Pretty sure Spurs like what they have in their current stable of bigs.
My advice to you is to get used to seeing Bonner in Spurs uni, because it's unlikely he's moved before his deal is up.
@Spursfan66 @koshwayne I honestly don't care what he averages or what the last game he scored, he rides the bench the majority of the time. Once he is traded before the deadline this season, my point making he needs to be gone. It will be the end of this conversation and you can keep discussing numbers all you want but overall he don't contribute every night as he should. That is what makes the Spurs and the management "aggressive" before this season's deadline.
@koshwayne@Spursfan66What else should I surmise from your 1-2 PPG comment? Unless you are just using one game as an example or something. And clearly I gave you the 3.4 average from THIS year, NOT his career. The career avg is actually 6.4. And I guess you missed the last wolves game when he shot 4-5 from deep. 14 points. Long story short, list a few bigs getting paid under 4 mil per that are NOT on a rookie deal that you think would be a better player than Matt right now. Im curious to know.