The death of the Spurs role player?

by

Is this the last we'll see of the San Antonio Spurs' role players like Bruce Bowen and Brent Barry?

The tried-and-true formula for San Antonio Spurs offseason acquisitions was predictable. You surround the three-headed silver and black monster of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker with shooters and defenders.

For the longest time, it made sense and worked. Duncan would draw double-teams on the low block and pass the ball out to wide open shooters. Parker and Manu beat their defenders off the dribble and get into the lane. If they couldn’t find a shot for themselves, chances are there was a Spur around them somewhere who was open in shooting position. Then everybody did their damnedest to defend the right way on the other end of the floor.

But this summer may be the last we see of the typical model for bringing in new players. Duncan is aging quickly and draws fewer double-teams, it seems, by the month. Age isn’t catching up to Ginobili quite as fast, but Manu is still 33 years old and has an unfortunate history of injuries. Parker is squarely in his prime but will be a free agent at the end of the upcoming season, and the chances of him re-signing, or even remaining with the team that long, are uncertain to say the least. All that to say that there are big changes ahead for the Spurs over the next two seasons.

Because the Spurs can no longer count on their core for the long term, future free agent and draft pickups could change. James Anderson might be the last of the typical Spurs role players that are brought in. The last print before the mold is destroyed, if you will.

So what will they do then?

San Antonio Spurs role players like Matt Bonner are endangered species.The transition from shopping for role players to searching for stars will begin. They can’t expect to land the number one overall pick in the draft and select a franchise cornerstone like Duncan and David Robinson. Again. Nor do the Spurs have international prospects stashed overseas with the potential for greatness like Ginobili and Parker.

Instead, the Spurs enter the NBA’s stock exchange, bringing in players based on potential. The front office gambling draft picks and cap space in hopes of bringing in a player who lives up to promise, defies expectations and shows the capability to perform at a level high enough to carry the franchise for several years. All while fitting in to the San Antonio Spurs culture and local community. Going four-for-four here is rare.

Bringing in players with star potential but little track record has its risks, ones the Spurs usually don’t take. George Hill was drafted with the promise of being a good NBA defender. But he also played three years of NCAA basketball before making the jump to the league. San Antonio drafted DeJuan Blair because he had lottery talent, but the front office knew rebounding ability usually translates well from college to the NBA. Ian Mahinmi? He doesn’t exist anymore.

While some may have the ceiling of a franchise player, others will simply bring abilities that the Spurs haven’t looked for recently. The front office won’t bring in exact replicas of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili, so instead, role players will have some skills that used to be sole property of the “big three.” The job description won’t simply be “shooter, defender.”

The one hesitation I have declaring the end of the way the Spurs front office built the roster is the decision to give four-year contracts to Richard Jefferson and Matt Bonner. Both were re-signed without much indication the direction the team will have in that time. It seems far-fetched to imagine Duncan, Ginobili and Parker all suiting up alongside Bonner and Jefferson in the silver and black in the 2013-2014 season.

The Spurs front office was the best in the business over the last decade when it came to keeping San Antonio a perennial championship contender. As this offseason ends and we look ahead to the next, (assuming there’s not a lockout) how the Spurs decide to add players to the roster will be just as interesting as anything else.

  • Francesco

    …as examined here many times: will the Spurs decide to become a perennial playoff condenter (because it’s decent business and keeps the team in San Antonio), or will they take a big risk hoping they get a player, through draft/trade/free agency, who can be a TRUE franchise player and make us compete for the title?

    More than one blogger here, myself included, have checked NBA history to conclude that:
    – you do not win a title without a TRUE franchise player
    – TRUE franchise players are very rarely on the market
    – TRUE franchise players almost always get selected within the first 3 picks

    Barring a Parker trade in February, from next season on we will have to decide if we want to build around Hill/Splitter/Blair (playoff but no title) or make a high risk high reward decision.
    That will determine the kind of complimentary players we bring on board.

  • dave

    i think bonner and jefferson will have much more impact this season with jefferson getting more accustomed to the defense and his position on the team and bonner becoming more involved in the defense and becoming more of an offensive threat(i.e last season, bonner was taking it in the lane more/still not really a lot in relation to other players, but he his improving with each season). The spurs will have more of a look with duncan taking that robinson role when he was in his latter years, (which is still better than much of the youth in the NBA with his size), leaving guys like splitter and blair to help more on the boards at both ends of the court, while duncan can still let his presence be felt in the in and out game. I think people don’t give duncan enough credit, even though his production has went down and the inevitable aging, but he is still capable of producing big numbers when needed. The problem will lie in staying healthy and the role players hitting their open shots when given the opportunity(like the jarren jacksons, mario ellies, stephen jacksons, horry, and kerr). The role players certainly have the talent, its just a matter of them being consistent and executing when the big three are not on the floor. The team seems to be shaping up pretty well so far, but their team chemistry is gonna really have to come through..the defense is a given, taken that the spurs franchise has always emphasized on defense, but the object is still getting the ball in the hole..its whether or not they take advantage of those opportunities.

  • Hock

    I feel pretty confident in the Spurs future with who we already have… Splitter, Anderson and Hill. Not the same as the previous ‘big three’, but potentially as successful – with a continued improvement trajectory and a good cast surrounding them. Rose colored glasses possibly, but I think with good reason. You have to believe before you achieve, and these guys give me reason to.

    If I was to add a fourth to the above three, it would of course be Blair, who still has huge upside if he can develop that reliable midrange shot and become a force defensively.

    Splitter is just 25… will learn/grow/develop a lot the next couple years, quite possibly becoming a cornerstone for the next roughly 8 years… Hill being another developing star… and I think Anderson will be a lot better than most think. He wasn’t really pushed in college, and has the competitive mentality of Manu – which says a lot.

    Jefferson will be better in the Spurs system in his second year here as well… and could be around for a few years if so.

    Hakuna matata… looking forward to this year and seeing the ‘SAH’ouse get rebuilt.

    -Spur in Dallas

  • Jim Miller (jimjule)

    The thought that Anderson will be able to step in for Manu or Jefferson is a stretch. The one addition that really interests me is the addition of Gary Neal. That guy is a proven scorer. He can penetrate and has a decent perimeter shot. The loss of Parker, hope not, could give him a big time start. Hill still isn’t ready to run the point full time. His periphial vision is not too good, an important asset for a PG. Temple looks another comer. I think this will be Duncan’s last year of playing over 20 minutes a game. Can’t see his kinee holding out far beyond that. It looked pretty bad in the second half of the season. It hurts him the most on defense. No hops and poor lateral movement. The Spurs need another power forward/center because Blair has big defensive shortcomings against opposing 4/5 players who tower over him. Here’s hoping that Gist finally matures to his potential. This year playoffs, but don’t think we’ll make it to the west finals. Too many other teams have made marked improvements.

  • ty

    Timmy and manu aren’t getting any younger so trade parker and take advantage of a team w/ a high draft pick and a good young player like derrik favors..

  • GitErDun

    Having watched Splitter in 3 FIBA games, one against the USA aka NBA, I am convinced he will SURPRISE a lot of people and may strongly contend for rookie of the year. Against USA, he had no trouble with Chandler, Odem, and Love. He especially played well against Love and Chandler who were not close to being in his league talent wise. His two wide open dunks at the ends of the 1st and 2nd qtrs against Love wee terrific. Love was at least 10 feet away from him on each dunk. 10 feet means he had no clue as to where Splitter was on the floor. If Chandler/Love are good enough to be on Team USA, he shouldn’t have too much trouble against others either.

  • DieHardSpur

    @GitErDun –

    This is my impression exactly, however, I doubt that Splitter will get to play enough minutes to obtain ROY. Having watched him for a while – i believe his transition should be seamless, while the fouls might get him in trouble early on.

    If ever we decide to run a P&R with Manu and Splitter with Blair at the 4, watch out for some easy lay-ups or a thunderous dunk from Blair (help defender rolling to double on the mobile Splitter).

    Is it preseason yet?

  • ITGuy

    “Is it preseason yet?”

    Only 1 month and a few days to go!!!

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • lvmainman

    I believe there is a death of good veteran role players by the Spurs ONLY due to salary concerns.

    I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll repeat it here. The Spurs had 6 expiring contracts during the season. (Mason, Bonner, Mahinmi, Ratliff, Finley, and Bogans – $12 million dollars to work with) The Spurs refused to use any of them during the season to upgrade the team. Knowing that if all 6 left as free agents, the Spurs would be UNABLE to sign ANY free agents because they would still be over the salary cap.

    The Spurs could have had Stephen Jackson for his $7 million salary by giving up Mason and Bonner. Could have thrown in Mahinmi and Finley for Bonner.

    Or the Spurs could have tried to add Mike Miller, Caron Butler, Kirk Hinrich, or any veteran role player. But the salary concerns scared the front office. The resigning of Ginobili and especially, Jefferson’s $15 million salary, not having the sense to know he would opt out to get a long term deal under the current CBA.

    Salary concerns have ended the front office desire to add good veteran role players in hopes of cheap rookies (Hill, Blair, Anderson) and cheap overseas players (Splitter, Neal) and minimum salaried vets (Bogans, Ratliff).

  • Jacob

    lvmainman,

    How long will you “beat the dead horse” of ‘could have had Stephen Jackson’?

    Dude, let it go….

  • quincyscott

    Really, I think “role player” is only a meaningful term to fans. I get what this post is saying–that the Spurs organization will now be in the hunt for players of star caliber to replace Duncan, Ginobilli and Parker. But I think this line of thinking only takes you so far. Kevin Garnett refuses to refer to any of his teammates as role players, and I think that attitude has been a part of the Spurs culture for quite some time, and it’s one reason for their success. They all see themselves as teammates, and certainly Pop and Duncan ensure that things stay that way.

    I would also quibble with depicting Ginobilli and Parker as European stars who were waiting in the wings. Ginobilli was not a sure thing when the Spurs drafted him, and in fact he has taken a supporting roll many times, coming off the bench for a lot of his career with the Spurs. Parker was still a teenager when he joined the team, by no means considered a future All Star.

    I guess my position is that there is only one sure-thing superstar the Spurs have acquired in the past decade or so, Tim Duncan. Ginobilli and Parker developed into the great NBA players they are. From this perspective, I don’t see things being all that different for the front office now. Some of our newer players may become special. Some won’t. You go and get the players you think will fit and develop, but nothing is, or has ever been, guarenteed.

  • Tyler

    @lvmainman

    It would have been nice to use our expirings last year to acquire another player (s), but that would have meant taking on more long-term, guaranteed salary, which the organization could not have handled when you consider:

    A.) we are a small market team with limited revenue streams. We can’t sustain the huge luxury tax hit on a yearly basis.
    B.) the CBA is up after this year. How that will affect player salaries and the salary cap remains to be seen, but suffice it to say, the length of guaranteed contracts and the salary cap could and probably will be reined in. How much is anyone’s guess at this point.
    C.) the economy. Who knows what is going to happen in the future. Another down turn could adversely effect the Spurs and the NBA as a whole. Look at the Texas Rangers – MLB had to take control of the team because Tom Hicks could not meet his financial obligations. Though this is unlikely to happen in SA, all businesses are watching spending more than ever, and many are waiting till they have more visibility before taking on any risk.

  • BALLHOG

    This is not news…

    Spurs have been setting themselves up for this down fall for years by making horrible player aquisitions. Signing players for the wrong reasons and not properly utilizing the players that we have.

    Constantly bringing in sub par, handicapped players who were more “Yes Men” than NBA ballers.

    The real head scratcher is this years offseason moves.

    Spurs knew that the roster they ended the season with last year was weak. I really thought they would come out during the offseason and try and pick up missing pieces…

    Instead, they end up with Neal , Anderson, Splitter, and Bonner. Not too many teams shaking in thier boots.
    Again…Idiotic!

    Bonners contract amount and length were as ridiculous as Jefferson’s. Spurs continue to spend big money on Average to below average guys.

    This is what happens when you get away from whats real.

    Players win championships. Not coaches, not FO’s, and not scrubs.

    Pop and company had a nice run. Came up with a few lucky draws from the Euro League and put up some banners.

    However, as we can all plainly see now, when that way of thinking stopped working, Spurs were left with nothing. No adjustments and no new thinking.

    The simple fact that we could have had Stephen Jackson, Matt Barnes and Shaq on our bench, but chose to go with this roster, says it all…Pop would rather have kiss azzes than Ballers!

    Spur Nation…Its either time to take a new approach or time to join the lottery…Especially if we keep this coach much longer….

    No elite player is going to want to play for Pop…Not in today’s society……….

    Doesnt look good at all…………..

  • GitErDun

    Ballhog – you are quite the glass half empty kind of guy. I trust the Spurs ability to judge talent WAY MORE THAN YOURS. Pop and company get PAID to judge talent, You – not so much. hey actually earn their living by being successful – You – not so much. You – Gloom and Doom. If Splitter were going to the Lakers, Bulls, Heat, Magic he would be being touted as the next Euro Superstar. Coming to the Spurs – a marginal role player. I recorded Splitters play against the USA Team. He clearly outplayed all three of their “Selected Bigs” I wouldn’t begin to trade him for Odem, Chandler, or Love. He outplayed them and had essentially no backup ith Varajao injured. In fact Marcelino Huertas largely outplayed Billups, Rose and Westbrook.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    @quincyscott

    You’re right. My statement was meant to imply that De Colo and Javtokas don’t look like they’ll be stars in the NBA at any point. It wasn’t so much that Parker and Ginobili looked that way before arriving in San Antonio.

  • GitErDun

    “the CBA is up after this year. How that will affect player salaries and the salary cap remains to be seen, but suffice it to say, the length of guaranteed contracts and the salary cap could and probably will be reined in. How much is anyone’s guess at this point.”

    This could conceivably crush teams who have committed to high salaries over a number of years such as the Heat and possibly the Lakers. Their ability to add any player short of veterans minimum and draft picks (which the Heat have traded away) for the 2-4 years following the new CBA could really crush their ability to sign talent. I suspect the NBA is headed towards a HARD SALARY CAP and look out when it hits if you are in Lux Tax area now. With the uncertainty about how the CBA will treat you, max flexibility is without the best policy.

  • GitErDun

    without doubt the best policy.

  • Hobson13

    I agree that we are now in need of securing our core of young stars for the future. Although none of our young players will be MVP caliber studs (at least so I think) perhaps we can find a second or third tier star among Hill, Blair, Splitter, and Anderson. Although we have had our miscues, like everyother FO, our FO is very good at mining young talent. While I lament the fact that the FO didn’t begin our youth infustion/rebuild 1-2 years ago, I have to give Pop and RC credit for them recognizing our weaknesses and snagging a number of young prospects over the last two years.

    Manu and Tim have only 1-2 years left of being very good players (all star good not MVP good). However, I think this article should be entitled “Death of the one-way players.” If you look at the three players surrounding Duncan in this photo, you can conclude that they are essentially one-way players.

    Bowen – Great defender, good 3pt shooter, limited offensive game, lousy creator on offensive end
    Thomas – Great interior defender/rebounder, good mid range shooter, limited offensive game, lousy creator on offensive end
    Barry – Good shooter, good passer, decent offensive creator, lousy defensive player
    Oberto – Good interior defender/rebounder, poor shooter (beyond 8-10ft.), lousy creator on offensive end

    As I have stated before, the days of having 3 players produce 80% of the teams points are over. We need to continue to get young talent that can play on the defensive end and also contribute on the offensive end. At this point, we are in a tight spot. We won’t win the lottery and probably don’t have the next Dwight Howard, Lebron James, or Dwayne Wade. I believe that if the team isn’t rolling by late January, we might see Parker and/or McDyess traded for young, promising talent (think Knicks).

  • manufan

    Francesco
    – you do not win a title without a TRUE franchise player

    Not true. See 2004 Pistons.
    I get mad every time I read about franchise players and role players on basketball TEAM. It takes a TEAM to get to the top and every player on that team has his role, wich means they are all role players.
    By NBA standards franchise player is the player that owns maximum money contract and has most of the plays that run through his hands. Every team in the NBA has franchise player by that standard.
    All I wanna see as a Spurs and basketball fan is the team that plays and winn. I don’t care for celebrities, superstars, and all that drama.

  • Hobson13

    GitErDun
    September 2nd, 2010 at 1:09 pm
    “This could conceivably crush teams who have committed to high salaries over a number of years such as the Heat and possibly the Lakers. I suspect the NBA is headed towards a HARD SALARY CAP and look out when it hits if you are in Lux Tax area now. With the uncertainty about how the CBA will treat you, max flexibility is without the best policy.”

    I think you may be right. During the economic boom years (essentially mid 90’s-2007 with slight hicups in 1999 through 2002) it was just fine to promise players the moon. However, there is a GREAT deal of uncertainty regarding the nation/politics/economy. We simply aren’t in Kansas anymore and these players are going to feel the hit just like everyone else. I am convinced that the owners will do whatever it takes to bring the Players Union to its knees at the bargaining table even if that means a lockout for the first part of next year. David Stern said it best when he claimed that the NBA’s current business model is “unsustainable.”

    This is why I highly doubt we resign Parker if he asks for anything remotely close to the max. The owners (especially of small market teams) simply cannot go through another $400 mil league-wide loss and be forced to take out even more loans. It will be interesting to see how this showdown will play out over the next 12 months…

  • Maverick1948

    Thanks again, Ballhog. You have hit the wrong nail again. The FO of the San Antonio Spurs have had in place teams that were in the thick of the playoffs and Championship hunt. Looking at what we have to work with I, for one, think that the stated demise of one “Tim Duncan” is greatly exaggerated. He played 2.5 min less and score 1 pt and .5 reb less that the previous season. He has his 3rd highest shooting % in his career last season. He still averaged 1.5 blocks a game. Manu came on after Tony was hurt and out for 12 or so games. Hill played solid all season. Blair surprise a lot of people. Tony will be rested for a change. Splitter will have the minutes to be ROY considered. So will Anderson, the Player of the Year in the Big 12 must be good. The last 3 have been Durant, Beasley, and Blake Griffin. Anderson is the real deal. McDyess and Bonner wont be counted on the be starters. Pop biggest problem will be who to play of the new guys. Gee, Temple, Jerrells and Neal will get time during the early season. Jefferson will be better this. So I look for Spurs to be solid for years to come.

  • rj

    i suppose conventional wisdom says u work a sign-and-trade format for parker so we can get some pieces in return. my concern is we will not get any considerable talent to build off of for the future. this team will eventually need to bottom out before it can acquire a franchise player. we have a good supporting cast building in s.a. , but we will need to draft the achor.

  • lvmainman

    @ Hobson13,

    Where have you seen prove of this alleged $400 million loss by owners? Other than verbally?

    The free agent signings of the summer tend to prove that assertion false.

  • Bushka

    Great theme to the article.

    It’s an angle that I certainly hadn’t considered, though it would seem a natural progression.

    I think that it all depends on this season. Splitters skill set, Blairs development, seeing who stands up off the bench and in what manner.

    All those factors will strongly influence future signings. I don’t think we’ll see such a huge divergence from the mean in terms of role players. I think rather we’ll still pick up guys who do certain jobs, the jobs are just going to be a little different.

  • Bushka

    @Ballhog,

    Do you even read the articles your posting on?

    “This is not news…

    Spurs have been setting themselves up for this down fall for years by making horrible player aquisitions. Signing players for the wrong reasons and not properly utilizing the players that we have.”

    Andrew had come up with a fairly original view that the way the spurs build was going to possibly change quiet dramatically in the near future.

    I ask again did you actually read the topic and article or did you just decide to come in here and enlighten us to your own subtle agenda.

    I.e you think everything and everyone is a flaming bag of turd.

    At least get on topic and discuss things before you go raving into the sweet goodnight.

  • idahospur

    The problem is the league is morphing into a position where there needs to be 5 stars starting on a team. This keeps the power of the league in the hands of where the money is (LA, Miami, Boston, etc). If this change keeps happening, the Spurs will be forced into a position where we recruit players near the end of their careers hoping for a short at the title or we look deep in international waters hoping for talent. Sadly we cannot keep up with the checkbooks of many of our rivals and may have to return to the days of just a pretty good team.

  • DorieStreet

    In the Spurs heyday (2003-07) they also created turnovers, blocked shots, rebounded and ran the floor -fastbreak basketball. Now we are at the bottom of the league in these stats, in addition to being turnover prone, having scoring droughts of 4,6, even 8 minutes, at least one quarter in every game of 18 points or less. The role players’ skills deteriorated with age & injuries but we kept them too long. Then we replaced them with role players with fewer skills. (We all know the names in both categories.) Hobson13 summed it up best (at 1:31 9/2 at 1:19pm). One last run with the ‘Core 3′, the young & improving draft picks, and hoping the retained free agents can produce their best season possible. And please, please, please–let this be the very last posting of an article mentioning the name of Ian Mahinmi. 1st round, 28th pick in 2005. The result- 5 years in the Spurs system, 2 seasons in the uniform- 32 games @ 4 pts, 2 reb & no blocks. Unless he becomes the 2010-11 sixth man winner or a vital cog for the 2010-11 champion Mavs, his time here is irrelevent. I for one, will always wonder did we leave a 5th, maybe even 6th title when we trade Luis Scola rights to Houston October 2007. But enough about the past; lets get ready – 1st preseason game in 35 days-put this team together & lets roll!

  • Kevin

    I like how Steven Jackson, Matt Barnes, and SHAQ! are the answer, not the players we have. Even if it was, in fact, even remotely possible to land all three of those players, I would consider that team just as good as our current team. But then what would Ballhog complain about?

  • Kevin

    Also, is it possible to load up (through trading draft picks and players) on other teams’ first round picks, and hope that they end up being in the top 5? This is probably one of the few scenarios that could land SA a franchise draft pick… or are top 3 picks all protected??

  • ThatBigGuy

    Perhaps it is not the death of the role player so much as a narrowing talent gap between our declining superstars and their increasingly talented teammates?

  • Jim Henderson

    quincyscott
    September 2nd, 2010 at 11:42 am

    “I would also quibble with depicting Ginobilli and Parker as European stars who were waiting in the wings. Ginobilli was not a sure thing when the Spurs drafted him, and in fact he has taken a supporting roll many times, coming off the bench for a lot of his career with the Spurs. Parker was still a teenager when he joined the team, by no means considered a future All Star.”

    That is a good point.

    manufan
    September 2nd, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    “Not true. See 2004 Pistons.
    I get mad every time I read about franchise players and role players on basketball TEAM. It takes a TEAM to get to the top and every player on that team has his role, wich means they are all role players.”

    I agree, although you have to admit, history suggests that the Piston’s were the exception, not the rule. But I have to say in my opinion this indicates that most FO’s inevitably succumb to a risky, and for the most part, a failed model: that is, blowing up their teams every 5, 10, 15 years (OR just more or less allowing the team to atrophy via poor management) in order to get a shot at the draft lottery, rather than making timely & astute trade & FA acquisitions to keep the team on the verge of a breakthrough (e.g., Pistons).

  • Hobson13

    lvmainman
    September 2nd, 2010 at 2:42 pm @ Hobson13,

    “Where have you seen prove of this alleged $400 million loss by owners? Other than verbally?

    Given the state of the overall economy, I don’t doubt the owners lost money this last year. This may not be the article I saw a number of months ago, but it is interesting. I had also forgotten that the league was said to have lost $200mil in EACH of the past 4 years (not including 2009-2010). I don’t have the final numbers of what the teams lost for the 2009-2010 year, but it is safe to say they lost somewhere between $200-$400mil. I will say this: It is unreal that the players take 57% of the NBA revenue. These owners have more money and capital in this game than the players can imagine and yet the players keep more than half?!? Again, the current CBA was agreed upon during the go-go days of the late 90’s. Those days no longer exist.

    http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/Dispatch/market-dispatches.aspx?post=1633902&_blg=1,1633902

    “The free agent signings of the summer tend to prove that assertion false.”

    I agree there were some very ignorant contracts handed out this past summer to players like Joe Johnson, Amare Stoudamire, David Lee, and a few others. I halfway believe the owners signed these contracts knowing they were going to give every player a salary haircut this next summer. I could be totally wrong about that theory so I won’t defend it too hard. I will say that I believe the owners may be fudging their numbers a bit, but I’m sure the Players Union is playing the same accounting games when they claim the owners are profitable.

  • andy

    @ Maverick1948
    “So will Anderson, the Player of the Year in the Big 12 must be good. The last 3 have been Durant, Beasley, and Blake Griffin.”

    and the 3 before that were p.j. tucker, wayne simien, and tony allen. i personally think we’re looking at a tony allen more than a kevin durant, but that’s not all that bad either.

    one thing we have to remember about the pistons team is that they brought in larry brown as well. despite what you may think about his nomadic ways, he has to be a top 3 coach in the league, imo. easily good for 3-5 more wins a year on any given team. aslo, though they had no true “superstar” their starting 5 had some extremely good players, with a defensive poy in his prime and very good complementary roles. this sort of team doesn’t come together easily, and while i’d put the spurs at the front of the line for FOs that can do it, it’s not a sustainable model either, as history’s shown. they had one title, two finals appearances, and were blown up.

    Kevin
    September 2nd, 2010 at 3:54 pm
    “Also, is it possible to load up (through trading draft picks and players) on other teams’ first round picks, and hope that they end up being in the top 5?”

    if there’s one FO i admire as much as the spurs’ it’s utah’s. they’ve managed to acquire high draft picks through canny deals several times. gordon hayward is the latest, but picking up deron williams at 3 wasn’t easy either. it’s possible, but not easy, and while i hope the spurs are able to do it, i think we’re too on the radar to swindle people at this level anymore. you really have to catch a team between a rock and a hard place.

    @ bushka. it may reveal my immaturity, but the imagery of a flaming bag of turd gets me chuckling every time.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Lenneezz

    Ryan Richards could very well be the next foreign draft and stash treasure. The guy has very good raw skills.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiANnojm34I

  • Jim Henderson

    Regarding the central thesis of the main article:

    I’m glad to see a post about the team’s longer term prospects and potential strategies. This needs to be talked about more often, because we are indeed not far off from the end of an era in Spurs basketball. That said, and in spite of how good Tim Duncan has been for us over his career, the transition period does not need to lead downward for the franchise. Granted, it will be difficult to duplicate the feat of 4 titles in a dozen years, but the Spurs, with the proper strategy, and some luck (which is always the case), could still become perennial challengers again over the next 3-10 years. The following are some basic points that, if I were the FO, I would take into consideration at this point:

    — we need to aggressively manage player contracts better — RJ’s 10 mil. & Bonner’s 4 mil. per year over 4 years were questionable decisions in my view — we probably will not be able to afford to keep TP next year (and I don’t mean just financially) — I also would have traded Manu prior to his new contract, for James Harden & pieces — TD has been generously compensated for his greatness over the years — if he stays aboard in 2012 (which I hope he can/will), he will have to take a significant pay cut (probably less than half of current earnings).

    — we need to be aggressively looking for ways to pick up young, “budding stars” (we may not always be right of course) to help propel the team forward over the next two to three years, and forward — as it stands right now, I would make a decision by the end of this season to keep three of these four young players (Hill, Blair, Splitter, Anderson), and use the other, plus anyone else on the team (probably not TD) as trade bait, either at the deadline, or preferably next off-season — as it stands, I would lean toward keeping Splitter (although I’d like to see a season under his belt before I commit) & Blair (who I think will become an occasional all-star caliber player), and either Anderson or Hill — at that point our goal should probably be to trade (using TP) for an established star (fairly young) player (borderline all-star level) at PG, and other pieces, and package Anderson or Hill (with Manu if necessary) for a young, “budding” mega-star at the center, SG, or even SF spot.

    — one key going forward is to find and acquire that one young player that, for lack of a better expression, has all-star written all over him, underneath his shirt, such that not everyone sees it yet (they just see a really good player) — the other key is to do whatever it takes to match your talent so that it is very strongly “complimentary” — thus, for example, if we choose to keep Blair long-term, we need to fit the right players around him, particularly on the front line — in particular, we would want length and defensive prowess to compliment Blair — if we were going to keep Splitter with Blair, we would need a more athletic & strong SF than is typical — a guy like Gerald Wallace comes to mind, for example.

    — we must aggressively develop our young players that have the most potential this year — that means plenty of minutes, particularly early on (but even during the playoffs if they’ve earned it), and pushing their confidence by sticking with them even when things aren’t going that well sometimes.

    Finally, in my view, you don’t need to have “franchise” players to be a true title contender (it’s nice, but it’s a luxury, and the great majority of teams do not have them). What you do need is a very good TEAM that has great chemistry, and that compliments each other as perfectly as possible. Basically, the team could be comprised of two or three players that are occasional all-stars (with one being a clutch, go-to man), 2-3 players that are borderline all-stars, and 3-4 players that are solid, clutch rotation players that fill all the miscellaneous left-over needs of the team to a “T”. Oh, and the more guys you can acquire that have the ability & commitment to play tough defense, the better (some are always going to be better than others, but try to avoid too many weak links). Defense is often the difference maker in the playoffs, even more so in the finals.

  • Jim Henderson

    Lenneezz
    September 2nd, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    I do like what I’ve seen from him, but it’s still a long-shot that he becomes even a very solid rotation player in the next few years.

  • Bert

    Did anyone on 48moh mention the ‘new spurs’ kit? I always thought the spurs should update the uniform. Bring back the old silver uniform or something.

  • Francesco

    @ Jim Henderson

    “Finally, in my view, you don’t need to have “franchise” players to be a true title contender (it’s nice, but it’s a luxury, and the great majority of teams do not have them).”

    Everyone please have a look at the team that won a title in the last 30 years (1980 to 2010):
    there are 2 exceptions, the Detroit teams of ’89+’90 (although Isiah Thomas was possibly a TRUE franchise player) and ’04.

    Every other team had a Michael Jordan, a Tim Duncan, a Shaq, an Olajuwon, a Magic, a Bird, a Kobe.

    And no, obviously I don’t consider Joe Johnson and Amare Stoudemire TRUE franchise players.

    I’m not saying that franchise players win by themselves, nor that it is the best way to assemble a team, I’m just stating a fact.
    Good luck at winning a title with a roster of Hills and Blairs.

  • Francesco

    In the last 30 years only 8 teams have won titles.

    Take out the only franchise that has managed to always renovate itself and kept winning (Lakers) and you will notice how, after the golden years of their franchise player, no team has been able to get back to the top.

    The Sixers reached the Finals once in the following 27 years,
    The Celtics won again after more than 20 years.
    The Rockets never made it past the second round.
    The Bulls never made it past the second round.
    It took to the Pistons “only” 14 years to win another.
    For Miami is too early to tell.

    DO NOT BE SURPRISED IF THE SPURS NEVER MAKE IT TO THE FINALS FOR THE NEXT 20 YEARS OR SO.

    Like I said in first post at the beginning of this blog, ultimately it will be a decision made by Holt:
    do we become a perennial playoff contender and keep the team in San Antonio, or do we take a big risk?

    The year we lost Robinson and subsequently tanked the season we didn’t run the risk of ruining the franchise forever, because even if hadn’t been lucky to draw #1, we would still have had the Admiral.
    The situation is now different. We could have tanked last season or this one or the next and still be reasonably sure to make the playoff the year after, but if we try the tanking stunt (which I don’t think we will) a couple years from now, and we don’t get lucky, we may never recover.

  • Two Cents

    Francesco: What city would the Spurs go to?

  • Jim Henderson

    Francesco
    September 3rd, 2010 at 1:16 am

    “Everyone please have a look at the team that won a title in the last 30 years (1980 to 2010):
    there are 2 exceptions, the Detroit teams of ’89+’90 (although Isiah Thomas was possibly a TRUE franchise player) and ’04.”

    I’m quite aware of the history. That’s why I said this from a previous post:

    “…….although you have to admit, history suggests that the Piston’s were the exception, not the rule. But I have to say in my opinion this indicates that most FO’s inevitably succumb to a risky, and for the most part, a failed model: that is, blowing up their teams every 5, 10, 15 years (OR just more or less allowing the team to atrophy via poor management) in order to get a shot at the draft lottery, rather than making timely & astute trade & FA acquisitions to keep the team on the verge of a breakthrough (e.g., Pistons).”

    It’s not easy to win without a “franchise” player. That said, as I have previously suggested, the great majority of team do not get a franchise player, even every 15-20 years. We’ve already gotten our share (TD), and I’m not going to sit here and count on another one anytime soon. Even if we were to ruin our team by getting rid of people and “deliberately” try to lose (a demoralizing strategy), and got “lucky” and got the number one pick, the odds of us getting another franchise player similar to TD are about one in ten at best. That’s too much luck on top of luck needed to try and get back to the top, and even getting a “franchise” player is no guarantee.

    I’d rather try to keep my team good, look for the killer deal through astute management and player evaluation/acquisitions, and hope to get some luck with chemistry & acquiring diamond in the rough players. For example, a lot of people think James Harden is a very good young player. I think he could become a star in the right situation over the next 2-3 years. But what are his chances of becoming that star behind guys like Durant, Westbrook, Green, et al., and they have a great defender at the SG right now in Thabo. But they could use a guy like Ginobli (who wouldn’t “demand” minutes), which could give them a shot at the title in the next 2-3 years. These are the types of opportunities that we have to look for. But the time to go after Harden was last year before Manu re-signed. It’s probably too late now.

    “Good luck at winning a title with a roster of Hills and Blairs.”

    But I never said the Hill’s & the Blair’s were enough for a title.

    And thus I reiterate from my previous post:

    “…..at that point our goal should probably be to trade (using TP) for an established star (fairly young) player (borderline all-star level) at PG, and other pieces, and package Anderson or Hill (with Manu if necessary) for a young, “budding” mega-star at the center, SG, or even SF spot…………

    …one key going forward is to find and acquire that one young player that, for lack of a better expression, has all-star written all over him, underneath his shirt, such that not everyone sees it yet (they just see a really good player) — the other key is to do whatever it takes to match your talent so that it is very strongly “complimentary”…..

    …….the team could be comprised of two or three players that are occasional all-stars (with one being a clutch, go-to man), 2-3 players that are borderline all-stars, and 3-4 players that are solid, clutch rotation players that fill all the miscellaneous left-over needs of the team to a “T”……….and the more guys you can acquire that have the ability & commitment to play tough defense, the better….”.

    Bottom-line: I’d rather try and go the Piston’s route, a method that has not been adequately tested or exploited in my view, which is perhaps partly responsible for it’s low success rate over the past 30 years. I’m not the type that wants to rely on having crappy teams and getting REALLY LUCKY in the draft.

  • rob

    Who knows what Splitter is going to be like. But indications are there he is going to be more than just a compliment to Duncan.

    If everyone remembers…No one knew for sure how Ginobili would work out in the NBA. Parker was not brought in to be a “star”…but as a project to see if he would be the back up point guard this team lacked for so many years.

    I would imagine that if Barbosa were retained he would have blossomed into a star type player under Pop’s tuteledge.

    I’ve seen many players not household names become really good players on this team and then do alright on another team.

    But the fact remains that the Spurs haven’t held the cards to drafting a franchise player since Duncan. And though they have turned out better than many expected…without Duncan I’m sure Ginobili and Parker would not have had the same amount of success as they’ve had.

    But I don’t see the team struggling to maintain it’s prestige after Duncan and Ginobili eventually depart. The team is going to have their salary base to lure prospective franchise types of players.

    Building a core of youthfull talent to be role players for an extended period is quite ingeneous to me. For already having them in place once the inevitable retirement takes place of Duncan/Ginobili…the Spurs can reserve focus on acquiring an all star/franchise type of player without also having to find role players to support that player.

    I spent 20 years of rooting for the Spurs before their first championship. It’s been a great 10 years during them being one of the top 5 teams in the league. I’m sure they just won’t ride off in to the sunset after Duncan retires. And building another great team may already be in place with acquiring some young talent on the cheap until the opportunity to replace Duncan can be done and already having the “role” player type of talent needed to make that new “franchise” player excited to play for this team.

    Taht’s my optomistic take.

  • b-mad

    pump your brakes a bit…..we seem to have a lot of haters in the house. lest we forget, these are OUR spurs. we should ALL support the team. i really thought we were better than a city of fairweather fans. there is a reason the spurs have been voted #1 organization in sport for the past decade, there is a reason we have 4 titles, and a reason we are associated with people like iceman, five-0, and td. clearly, “commitment to excellance” isn’t al davis’s motto, rather it is the creed of our beloved san antonio spurs. however, having said all of that, i do reccognize the fact that we must make a change. we, quite obviously, cannot continue with the same fornula. our personnel is simply not what it used to be. the city has been spoiled by the success of the spurs and, as a result, we can have somewhat unreasonable expectations for the team. if we show patience and stay the course, like the spurs have done, i believe we will be rewarded. lastly, i want to say it is the right of every fan to become indignent with their team, however i think san antonio has always shown a little class while doing so. let’s keep the trend going.

  • Bushka

    I personally think we overstate the title aspirations. I don’t feel that every season that ends without a championship is a disappointment. There are numerous wonderful storylines that jump off the page for us every year.

    I am passionate about spurs basketball and seeing the team perform to as high a standard as possible, however it is easy to miss the great stuff along when you subscribe to a philosophy that is predicated on winning it all forever.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com/2010/09/02/death-of-tradition anonymous

    They believe in Bonner and Jefferson, so they signed them long term. They are in a position to know these two, better than us. I can see Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker still playing with Bonner and jefferson in 2012-13 and with some help, playing quite well.

  • Jason

    Well, if there is a chance that TP will be traded, just trade him for CP3 and pitch in Matt Bonner or even RJ ..

  • Bushka

    Maybe we can include father christmas for the tooth fairy?

  • Jim Henderson

    anonymous
    September 3rd, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    “They believe in Bonner and Jefferson, so they signed them long term. They are in a position to know these two, better than us.”

    True, but does that mean they could not have been mistaken in this case? Conceivably at some point in the next few years we ostensibly could have gotten far enough under the cap, enough to afford a max-type FA with Bonner & RJ’s salary (after TD’s contract expires). But now we’re still likely to be pressed a bit financially to add the necessary pieces over the next three years to remain competitive for a title over the next 3-5 years. At this point all we can do is hope that Bonner & RJ outperform compared to what most experts would suspect. Personally, I’m not overconfident in this regard (although I expect RJ to be better this year compared to last year).

  • Titletown99030507

    @Lenneezz, I agree, I had this kid going in the second round way before the combines hoping the Spurs had an eye on him. I was stoked when we got him. Wouldn’t it be crazy if Ryan Richards blew up. A 6-11 shooting power forward with raw mad skills, athletic, Smart on the court and a good passer. Lefty to boot and can cross you over coming the the court. The reason I like this kid is because he has a great outside shot and can attack the basket and play the pick and roll very well and very good rebounder. Yes he’s a long shot as many of you say, but so was Tony. This kid has so much potential and so much confidence that in his most recent telephone interview (August 2010) with a British source he said he’s healing from surgery and working out right now and will be picking up a basket ball in a few weeks, and expects to join the Toros in the beginning of their season then he goes on to say he should be ready to be called up in time for the Spurs playoffs. Man this kid is 19 or 20 and he’s talking like this, as if his life depends on it.
    Hungry young man. That’s what this team needs.
    Like I said wouldn’t it be crazy if this kid just blows up right before our eyes. Here we go again. GO SPURS GO!

  • Jim Henderson

    Titletown99030507
    September 3rd, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    I do agree that Richards is an interesting prospect to keep an eye on. We can only hope that he turns into a diamond in the rough. Not impossible.