Corporate Knowledge: Backup point guards

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Last week the San Antonio Spurs made a surprise move at the deadline bringing in Stephen Jackson, but do not appear to be finished tweaking their roster.

Over the weekend there were reports that the San Antonio Spurs were close to a deal with Blazers point guard Patty Mills, who returned from China last week. Talks have since hit a snag, as Portland has yet to renounce his rights.

In lieu of Mills, Marc Stein reported the Spurs might have some interest in recently bought out point guard Derek Fisher, a thought that brought plenty of speculation on local radio airwaves. Because if you can bring aboard a steadying veteran presence with a knack for big shots for next to nothing then you have to, right?

Only, the Spurs have plenty of championship experience on hand already and if Derek Fisher is on the floor in a situation where he is taking a big shot then that means the season has somehow gone terribly wrong (i.e. a Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili injury).

Fisher still has a place in the NBA, on a team like the Heat or Thunder in need of a steadying presence and great locker room guy. But the Spurs need more from their backup point guard than a guy that can initiate the offense and go sit in the corner.

The Spurs second unit has no go-to guy that Fisher can simply get the ball to and play off of. Instead the Spurs rely on a constant stream of pick and rolls and movement to get quality shots. For the few minutes that Parker is resting, the Spurs simply need someone that can get into the paint and make easy reads.

That’s not to say I would be opposed to a Fisher signing, but for what he can provide, the Spurs already have a superior option in Gary Neal.

  • The San Antonio Spurs have assigned Cory Joseph to the Austin Toros. No surprise. This season, and very possibly next, are not for Joseph. While I hesitate to call this a lost season for Joseph, he certainly could have benefited more from spending most of the season in Austin, where he would have both games and, more importantly, practice time to pick up the Spurs system.
  • Over at Pounding the Rock, CapHill pens a farewell letter to Richard Jefferson. I’d like to reiterate some of the positive things about what was ultimately a failed relationship (relative to expectations), namely his professionalism. Jefferson never fit here, but he remade his game and did everything in his power to fit in. Through all sorts of trade and amnesty talks, even when things obviously weren’t working, he continued to work.

 

  • Tyler

    I like Patty Mills as a backup. His game (and stature) is similar to TJ Ford’s. Super quick, but limited defensively because of his stature. Decent shooter and adept at running the PnR. Was Portland’s primary backup PG in ’10-11 and was solid. 

    For my money, Mills is a better shooter from distance than Ford, but without the experience. All in all, it would be a pretty good pickup IMO. And he’s still young (turns 24 in August), so there’s room for improvement.

  • Lvmainman

    Obtaining a 5th big is 10X more important than signing a backup point guard. The 2 best teams in the NBA, in my opinion, are the Bulls and the Lakers. Each team has active, massive frontlines that other teams have to counter.

    There have been big men released from J.J. Hickson, Ronny Turiaf, or Ryan Hollins. Each would be more beneficial than a backup point guard.

  • Tyler

    I would agree if the FO was passing on quality big men, but all three you mention aren’t productive. What good is signing a player out of need if they can’t play? At that point, you still have a need. 

  • idahospur

    Seeing a player like RJ probably miss his chance at a championship is a shame. In a league where personal glory outweighs teamwork and money outweighs loyalty, RJ showed what it meant to be a Spur. He worked hard to get better and attempted to find ways to contribute.
    I really hope the Spurs win it all this year (for obvious reasons) but I also hope the players vote to share the title with RJ.

  • TD BestEVER

    I personally would sign Fisher!!!!!!!!! And if we don’t I think it could come back to HAUNT us……… Patty Mills is a decent back up PG but nothing like TJ Ford as far as quickness and handles.  Much better shooter than TJ was. 
    Fisher gives you just as much shooting and Fisher can play well with the 2nd unit off of Jackson/Splitter.  As far as we already having Neal, can you have too many Clutch shooters on your team…..I think not….

  • Hobson13

    Mills is a nice player, but after seeing Bonner play the past few times out, we ABSOLUTELY need a decent big who can just rebound and play defense.  I don’t want to hit this too hard, but Matt Bonner gives the Spurs virtually nothing.  The last three games Bonner has played (all against playoff caliber teams) he has played a total of 67 minutes and produced 9 points, 12 rebounds, 1 asst, 2 blks, and 4 TOs.  He is beginning to remind me of RJ who just floated through games while producing only if given WIDE OPEN corner 3’s.  Right now, Bonner is a ZERO.

    Someone like Ronny Turiaf could provide size, rebounding, and good defense against a bigger front line like the Lakers.  Someone like Boris Diaw could provice some scoring, decent defense, and a more versatile Spurs front line.  In fact, the Spurs are linked to both.  I really love how this team is coming together, but we absolutely cannot allow that clown (Bonner) to play more than 8 minutes in any playoff game if we wish to advance.

  • Daniel T

    It seems that the slowness in signing Mills isn’t due to Portland, but immigration issues.  I’m not sure how long it will take to clear up.  Recall that Cory had similar issues as he did not have an employer during the lockout and had to wait till he knew he had work to apply.

  • theghostofjh

    AGREE! Unfortunately Pop apparently doesn’t.

  • Andrew Paladino

    Amid all this talk and speculation, still the Spurs are not willing to admit that Duncan needs *real* help in the middle. Everyone knew DeJuan Blair was undersized, yet they hoped that he could develop into a Malik Rose-type player, which still might happen but its definitely not this year. Splitter, though he tries on every play, is not near dominating, and is not a primary spot player in NBA paint. Maybe overseas he was. I dont know. All I do know is, this group can win it all the way it is, but it wont be easy. 

    Hey Spurs Front Office = Note for 2012-13 Season:
    “Make it easier. Talk Bigs” 

    Much love to all Spurs fans in the World

  • Len

    Fisher a Spurs?  Please God no.  He will always be one of the faces of the enemy.  

    From when the Spurs made him cry to when he shot a dagger in all of our hearts. He really just doesn’t belong here.  And don’t the Lakers need a PG and 3% shooting worse than just about anybody?  Last I checked they were last in the league in 3% shooting AND THEY TRADED HIM.  I just don’t want to see Fish playing for the Spurs.  I really don’t.

  • Bob

     It’s ridiculous. You build your team inside out. Not outside in. Lack of decent bigs can negate how good you’re on the perimeter. Decent bigs can make perimeter players seem good enough on offense and defense. Good bigs allow the perimeter players open shots and they cover for them when they get beat off the dribble.

  • Guest

    To me the problem is not so much Dejuan Blair as it is the way he’s being used. 

    As for Splitter, I don’t think we’ve seen what he’s fully capable of. He’s producing without playing much even though it isn’t the best of situations for him. He’s a really really good player but I think he needs more time to adjust. So far so good all things considered though.

    I do agree that the Spurs have enough pieces to go places but not with the rotations as currently constructed. The *only* chance they have, imo, is to start with a unit comprised of their best defensive players (i.e. Duncan, SJax/Leonard, Parker, Splitter, etc.) and then to rotate accordingly. 

    The offense wouldn’t be dazzling -in fact the wins would be ugly- but counting on Bonner to produce in the post-season and expecting Blair to defend against the likes of Gasol and Dirk while hoping the bench can salvage the game simply isn’t going to work. 

    And I completely agree with you that the Spurs need more bigs.

  • Zain521

    Hickson and Turiaf are more serviceable on the defensive side of the ball than matt bonner is that’s for sure. if they came behind splitter as bigs that would be very beneficial to the team. I still like bonner but he shouldn’t get more than 10 minutes a game depending on if he’s hot from three or not or in certain situations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Gordon/521537011 Mike Gordon

    Matt Bonner is slow.  Matt Bonner does not block shots.  Matt Bonner is not particularly athletic.  Matt Bonner is white.

    Matt Bonner is also an above average defender within the Spurs system.  People who say otherwise don’t watch the games closely enough.  Or, if they do, they don’t know what to watch.  While Bonner doesn’t block shots and will get beaten off the dribble if isolated one-on-one on the wing, he is nevertheless an extremely competent defender because he anticipates the play, rotates flawlessly, and uses his body – with his arms straight up, so as not to foul – to impede the shooter.  He’s also consistently boxes out and is an above average defensive rebounder.  In other words, he does the little things most fans don’t notice. It ain’t pretty, but it works.

    There’s a reason Bonner’s +/- rating is consistently so high.  The Spurs play excellent defense when he’s on the court.  And that’s no coincidence.

    Meanwhile, JJ Hickson is a notoriously terrible defender.  His strength is the mid-range jump shot.  Turiaf plays similarly solid positional defense as Bonner with a little bit of shot blocking but no offense game to speak of.  And Hollins is strictly an energy guy, good for the occasional weakside block.

    Give me Bonner over those guys any day.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Gordon/521537011 Mike Gordon

    Matt Bonner is slow.  Matt Bonner does not block shots.  Matt Bonner is not particularly athletic.  Matt Bonner is white.
    Matt Bonner is also an above average defender within the Spurs system.  People who say otherwise don’t watch the games closely enough.  Or, if they do, they don’t know what to watch.  While Bonner doesn’t block shots and will get beaten off the dribble if isolated one-on-one on the wing, he is nevertheless an extremely competent defender because he anticipates the play, rotates flawlessly, and uses his body – with his arms straight up, so as not to foul – to impede the shooter.  He’s also consistently boxes out and is an above average defensive rebounder.  In other words, he does the little things most fans don’t notice. It ain’t pretty, but it works.
    There’s a reason Bonner’s +/- rating is consistently so high.  The Spurs play excellent defense when he’s on the court.  And that’s no coincidence.
    Meanwhile, JJ Hickson is a notoriously terrible defender.  His strength is the mid-range jump shot.  Turiaf plays similarly solid positional defense as Bonner with a little bit of shot blocking but no offense game to speak of.  And Hollins is strictly an energy guy, good for the occasional weakside block.
    Give me Bonner over those guys any day.

  • Frankiealilu123

    i think with manu and gary that second unit doesnt need a point guard
     

  • Dmplayer

    Mike, what games have you been watching? Bonner gets man handled by guys 4 inches sitter regularly! His plus minus is good only because we have a great 2nd unit that gets him wide open shots. But crunch time he gets dominated and is a liability. Face reality please! I like him, he works hard, but is so darn limited.

  • TD BestEVER

    What is your defeinition of above average………..Because I see bonner getting about 3 rebounds per 21minutes played.   That’s pretty bad no mater how you look at it especially since he doesn’t get ANY offensive boards or compile many stats in other areas.  

    As far as the +/- means Bonner is good MYTH – we have desputed and debunked that theroy time and time again.  Bonner is a good fit in CERTAIN situations, but if he is going up against another PF that can score, he will be exposed in his 1 v1 D and he can’t go back at the other player at all. 

  • Bob

     Bonner forces the Spurs to play so much help defense to accommodate him. They’re not athletic enough to cover for him.

  • theghostofjh

    I think the bigs you’re talking about are far more than “decent” or “good”. And unfortunately, they are hard to come by. Sure, I’d like to add some depth to the front court, but until perhaps next year (when TD’s contract expires) we are unlikely to get a big that’s more productive overall than Blair/Splitter. And thus with Pop wanting to actually play Bonner on par with Blair & Splitter, there’s very few bigs available and affordable that could make us better overall upfront. The best we could hope for is someone like Turiaf replacing some of Bonner’s minutes, which unfortunately, is highly unlikely.

  • theghostofjh

    “Matt Bonner is also an above average defender within the Spurs system.
     People who say otherwise don’t watch the games closely enough.” No, Matt Bonner is not an “above average” defender in the Spurs system, or anywhere else. His fundamentals are fine, but his lack of lateral quickness/coordination allow him to get beaten repeatedly off the dribble, and his lack of strength/toughness makes him prone to being manhandled in the paint.”He’s also consistently boxes out and is an above average defensive rebounder.”No, he’s not an “above average defensive rebounder”. Hollinger shows him ranked 58th out of 80 power forwards in defensive rebound rate (16.4). In the playoffs, when it matters, his DRR last year was a relatively poor 11.6 (career is a below average 13.7). “There’s a reason Bonner’s +/- rating is consistently so high.  The Spurs
    play excellent defense when he’s on the court.  And that’s no
    coincidence.”You don’t have any detailed data that can effectively back up the reason you ascribe to Bonner’s positive +/-. It’s just as much if not more likely to result from the particular players he plays with and against at certain parts of the game. For example, he often plays against the opponents second string, and with some of our starters and best bench players. Bonner is also very good against inferior competition. I would hypothesize that proportionally his best +/- numbers by far come against poorer teams, particularly poorer defensive teams. “Give me Bonner over those guys any day.”I would take Hickson and Turiaf over Bonner any day of the week. Hickson is young, and has significant untapped potential, and Turiaf is by far a better defender/shot-blocker, which is something we need far more than someone who can only make threes when wide open, which rarely happens in the playoffs.

  • TDzilla!

    Wojnarowski: San Antonio still waiting on government work visa to sign Patty Mills,
    sources tell Y! Sports. Spurs have no plans to talk to Derek Fisher.

  • STIJL

     Conceptually I agree.  But I do like the youth they acquired in drafting Leonard.  The experience they got in getting Jackson (while eliminating Jefferson’s contract). And getting two valuable young outside players in Neal and Green.

    At some point you have to have the “out” in that inside out scenario.  Spurs were fortunate to get started in the “out” whilst not too many opportunities for decent to good bigs were available for the inside part.

    Hopefully that “inside” player we’re all hoping to see will be obtained in the near future.  But nothing short of another great draft day deal, or mysterious talent waiting to be found, or free agent signing is going to land that decent to good player any sooner than having to wait until the Spurs are lottery bound again.

    In other words…until then…I think the Spurs have been doing a decent job in at least getting the “out” parts to the inside out equation while having to wait to get good talent for the “inside” part of that equation.

    Cheers.  It’ll happen.  In the mean time…Tiago will continue to improve and when the Spurs finally get that prolific PF…the “out” players will be in place.

  • Zain521

    http://www.hoopsworld.com/boris-diaw-charlotte-bobcats-agree-to-buyout
    boris diaw has been bought out. PLEASE COME TO THE SPURS!

  • Tyler

    Why would we want Diaw? He’s overweight, out of shape, doesn’t play defense or spread the floor on offense. He hasn’t been productive since he left PHX.

    If our biggest need is interior defense like many suspect (me included), how does Diaw help solve that problem? I don’t get why many on here have pinned for him….

  • GMT

    Bonner definitely plays hard on defense, he knows what to do, and how to do it. The thing is, his athletic ability leaves much to be desired, plus he just has an average wingspan and no hops. While most people have their wings about equal to their height, in the NBA, they’re mostly athletic freaks with an extra half foot or so in length (see Kawhi Leonard, who’s 6’6″-6’7″ with a 7’3″ wingspan, or Blair who’s basically the same). As much as I like the guy, he just isn’t capable for much of the time, but he’s still worth keeping around do to his effort, which comes through sometimes, and his shot, which doesn’t come through in the post-season (where having Jackson really helps).

    Hickson really is a terrible defender, somewhere along the lines of Stoudemire without the talent, and I don’t particularly want him as a Spur. There is the question of whether his offense might offset his defensive woes, but I’m not going to look into it.

    Turiaf would be serviceable in spare minutes to spell some guys while we have the lead, but he can’t really help us get the lead much. He would be my choice in the list of current FA bigs. He has the right attitude and would put in the effort.

    Hollins just isn’t worth analyzing.

    Another big, Boris Diaw, would be good if he were in shape. I haven’t seen him yet this season, but I keep reading that he’s not in shape at all and defers the ball way too much.

  • STIJL

     http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2012/3/21/2889679/boris-diaw-charlotte-bobcats-buyout-spurs

  • Tyler

    Maybe there is some interest. I just can’t see how he gets this team closer to a championship. 

  • grego

    They also got Lorbek in the deal for Kawhi. The problem is the lockout prevented him from coming over. Otherwise, Spurs front court depth wouldn’t be as minimal as it currently is. 

  • sam

    lets face reality here , if we play memphis this playoffs , we will have the same problems.   blair and bonner can’t defend either gasol , or their pf .     that leaves duncan and splitter.   and lets hope they r healthy.   at least we need another big to cover our weaknesses, defensively.   same thing vs lakers   against gasol and bynum   both are active offensively that i doubt blair or bonner can gaurd them.

    so if u want to take the regular season to measure stats or all that stuff then please stop.  it is all worthless, last year we had best seed and we got beat by memphis (and i really  don’t think jinobli’s injury would have changed the outcome) .   we lost because their bigs out- rebounded , out scored and out hussled our bigs in the paint.   tim duncan needs help inside he is not the same player as in 2005 where he outplayed  ben and rasheed wallace together in some games.    

    splitter improved from last year  , but bonner and blair will struggle agaisnt  atletic long 7 footer bigs.   and in the west there r 2 teams that have this criteria  (lakers and memphis)   

  • theghostofjh

    “In the mean time…Tiago will continue to improve ….. ”

    So will Blair, and in fact, his upside is more than Splitter’s (he’s much less experienced, and 5 years younger).

  • theghostofjh

    “Another big, Boris Diaw, would be good if he were in shape.”

    Apparently Tony Parker thinks he’s in good enough shape.
     
    “He’s in shape,” Parker reportedly said. “I’m the first to make fun of him when he gains too much weight, but right now it’s not the case. We’re very interested to get him.”

    http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2012/3/21/2889679/boris-diaw-charlotte-bobcats-buyout-spurs

  • theghostofjh

    Granted, we don’t have the youngest and most dominant front line in the West (but that’s simply the way it is right now, and no panaceas are on the horizon). However, Blair has never really been given the proper chance. Pop’s trigger on him has been much too quick IMO, resulting in way too little regular time on the court in the last two playoffs. And linking Bonner with Blair is a mistake. Blair has much more of a chance to offset some of his defensive weaknesses with his ability to get high % opportunities inside, and to use his weight to battle Randolph and Gasol on the boards inside. And you have to have a minimum amount of threat inside in the playoffs to win. The fact is, Bonner does not offer that whatsoever. And even his outside threat is far more neutralized in a playoff series, as FIVE years of history has told us. We have little option but to play Blair more or we’re done. And in my view, if we stuck with him for steady minutes he would surprise to the upside.

  • Bob

     Pop’s has people thinking Splitter didn’t deserve minutes last year. Splitter’s a smart player and was bound to “improve” and figure things out when giving minutes. That’s the crucial part. He needed minutes to get adjusted. This is a guy who was Spanish league MVP.

  • Bob

     Blair may not always make the smart play. But one thing I thing I think a coach can’t complain about is activity level. The team with the higher activity level usually gets more things going their way. Bonner tends to avoid physical play and hurts the team by that.

  • STIJL

    I will have to iterate (contrary to yours)…I believe Splitter’s potential upside being greater than Blair’s with regards to consistency and value while maintaining neither will become “prolific” yet both positively meaningful to the team at what they do when both are on in what they do.

     Let’s let a couple more seasons of experience be the telling story.

     Blair…(when on) at doing what he does best is one of the best…and Splitter when doing what he does best is one of the best at what he does…neither outdoes what each does best just because they’re not built in a way that allows them to do what the other does best.

    My hope as a fan is that both improve.  Both become dependable and consistent.  Both help the team win.

  • theghostofjh

    Of course we want and expect both to improve. I’m not sure though what your rationale is for expecting Splitter to improve more? It is much more common for players to improve considerably between 22 & 28 years of age than between 27 & 33. Splitter already has 8-10 years of professional experience (primarily in Europe), many as a starter and go-to guy. Blair’s in his 3rd year, playing 4th, 5th, 6th fiddle, in the shadow of the big three. Blair has simply not had the opportunity that Splitter has had to develop his game via significant court time.

  • theghostofjh

    Sure. And just remember, Blair’s not even 23 years old yet. He’s playing with probably the smartest team in the NBA. His basketball smarts on not on the level of the big three, so he can stick out at times with mental errors. Give him some more time though. He’s done extremely well under the circumstances as a #37 pick, earning less than a million per year. And he’s only in his 3rd year. On the other hand, Splitter is 27 and has had 8-10 years of professional experience, often as a central figure as he matured in Europe. It only makes sense that he’s more polished than Blair at this stage. I’m glad we drafted an experienced Splitter, who takes pride in the mental aspect of the game. But Blair is in no way a dumb player. Mainly just a lot less experienced, and trying hard to overcome a big height disadvantage at his position.