Don’t Rock the Boat… Too Much

by

rcbuford
The Spurs enter their annual rodeo road trip with a disappointing loss in what has been a frustratingly inconsistent season. While the Spurs have been okay, the moves made this summer were done with grander plans in mind than okay.

Today and tomorrow each writer here at 48MoH will play devil’s advocate for one of four positions regarding the Spurs and this trade season: making no move, a minor roster tweak, a huge trade or focusing on the future.

There is a standard of excellence unlike any other with the San Antonio Spurs. Fans not only expect wins, but flawless basketball.

At this point in this season, the wins have come at a slower pace than normal and the flawless basketball that made basketball purists smile has come once in a blue moon for San Antonio.

And yet, here the Spurs stand. They are fifth in the competitive Western Conference and two and a half games back of the top spot in the Southwest Division. Another 50 win season is not out of the question, but this week’s Rodeo Road Trip kicks off what could be the Bataan Death March of second half schedules.

This year’s team shows flashes of why analysts and experts viewed them as one of the few title contenders coming into this season. San Antonio’s class was evident in the first half of their win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night. Unfortunately, those flashes have come few and far between this year.

But the flashes are there, and it’s for this reason that the Spurs are not in need of any drastic changes leading up to the February trade deadline.

“We played really well before we struggled a little bit. There’s going to be ups and downs, smiles and frowns,” Richard Jefferson said after San Antonio’s win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night. “There’s going to be a lot of things that go on throughout the course of the season.”

The Spurs possess a roster with skill in every area. One of the strengths of the San Antonio Spurs over the last several years has been their ability to play at a high level in every type of game. They can control tempo in a fast-paced game with the Phoenix Suns and grind out possessions against a defensive team like the Boston Celtics.

This year’s Spurs have a similar ability, they simply haven’t replicated the same consistency as Spurs teams of past years. The Spurs still lack the “corporate knowledge” that was damn near instinct for former Spurs teams. Doing too much to shakeup the current roster could undermine the progress this year’s team has made.

“When we were struggling we weren’t shooting the ball particularly well, but we weren’t getting blown out,” Jefferson said. “We were in every single game, but it was just coming down to one or two shots here and there that we weren’t making.”

But things are starting to come together. Matt Bonner recently returned to the lineup and got rid of the leather splint/Nintendo Power Glove on his shooting hand. Michael Finley was on the active roster for the first time in a while on Friday night. And Manu Ginobili is showing some resemblance to the players that was one of the most feared players in the world just a couple of seasons ago.

Tony Parker recently went down with an ankle injury and has been hampered by plantar fasciitis, however he still shows an innate ability to get to the rim when playing.

Assuming Tim Duncan doesn’t encounter the same second half knee troubles he faced last year and DeJuan Blair’s lack of ACLs don’t become a problem over an 82 game season, this year’s San Antonio Spurs team will be a formidable one come playoff time.

What the Spurs are missing is a player to fill the Bruce Bowen role. Not necessarily a shut-down defender as good as Bowen was, but a defense-first player who can knock down 3-pointers and not take much off the table offensively. Early in the season, it looked like Keith Bogans could fill that void, but his playing time has been limited as of late. George Hill shows a knack for defense, however he has a tendency to get into foul trouble when marking the opposing team’s best perimeter scorer.

The Western Conference is close. Even the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers have looked vulnerable at times, and more injury-prone than the Spurs. San Antonio is getting closer to the form that fans and analysts expected of them after their summer moves. The roster’s grasp on the system is developing and becoming second nature to those players who were tasked with learning a different team framework.

The front office needs to add one more ingredient to complete the full, title-contending dish. However, doing too much to shake up the recipe, or not enough, could leave Spurs fans with bland dish worthy of an early playoff exit.

  • Martin

    Dorrell Wright could be that person. The Heat are desperate to move him out. If we could get some pieces like Mahinmi + a couple draft picks, they could agree to send DW to San Antonio

  • DxB

    What the hell is Dorrell Wright gonna do for this team? Get a Big man who plays D …NOW!

  • agutierrez

    It is ironic: in the past the Spurs were more than the sum of their parts. Now, they are less. How’d that happen?

  • James

    What about Raja Bell? Doesn’t seem like he’s doing all that much for Golden State right now?

  • lvmainman

    It’s amusing to me this notion of taking time to mesh. Pau Gasol joined the Lakers and as a result they’ve never lost 3 in a row with him playing since! Garnett and Allen joined Pierce and I believe they started 18-1!

    A move needs to be made in my opinion. We could’ve had Stephen Jackson for Bonner, Finley, and Bogans. A better offer than Radmonvich and an injured, never going to play Raja Bell.

    There are opportunities available due to the # of upcoming free agents and the financial concerns of other teams. We have no clutch 3 pt shooters (maybe Finley), no shot blockers @ the rim, and no wing defender.

    Spurs as currently constructed need help for championship aspirations, in my opinion.

  • http://Spursreport.com ALSPURS

    To me this team has had enough time to gel..

    And it’s just not there…

    RJ and McDyess have not helped the way we all thought…

    And as much as I love Manu it’s not just there with him …something seems missing..but he is showing flashes at some points…

    I am just so pissed and really down withhow we have played so far…

    I hope we can turn it around and start playing better…

    I don’t think the FO is going to make any move that will get us over the hump…we are gonna win or lose with this group…

  • mori1040

    @James

    That would be because Raja is recovering from (pretty much) season ending wrist surgery. It’s kinda funny to hear the media talk about the injuries to teams like Portland. GS has 4 rotation players that are out for the year.

  • Simon

    This read as suprisingly opptomistic after that dissapointing Denver loss. The rodeo trip will be a telling time for sure but my gut tells me SA just aren’t ready for such a prolonged stint on the road. But after over a decade of support, I know this as a club of character and they can still triumph over these inconsistanties. Remember the repeating Rockets teams that barely won 50 games in their championship seasons….

  • mori1040

    I also agree that it was a huge mistake not to go after Stephen Jackson. A player of his abilities that has already been through the system…jeez, he was practically gift wrapped for the Spurs.

  • Cory Clay

    The Spurs will not take on any players that have contracts that need to be resigned this offseason or have years past the current CBA due to Peter Holt’s inside information on what the new contracts will be limited to, hard cap, etc.

    The best we can hope for is a combo of expiring contracts for Shane Battier, whose contract expires the same time as the CBA as well as other players like Parker, McDyess, Jefferson, etc.

  • Anthony McDonald

    Not sure Jackson would have been the answer…with Stephen you just wonder when the next shoe will drop. I live in Charlotte and he has been a godsend. However, how effective will he be in 3 years and for that money?!?

  • Michael

    A “minor” tweak isn’t going to fix the problem. I personally don’t believe the Spurs will move any of the big three. Manu does have an expiring contract, but to get anything decent for him — the Spurs would have to take back a lot of salary — which they won’t do.

    I’m assuming the Spurs might try to move a guy like Roger Mason Jr., just to get another piece to try to fit in.

    The sad thing about this season is the Spurs would have the identical record if Jefferson and McDyess wouldn’t have been signed.

  • jesse

    I honestly think the Spurs are in big trouble. Im getting tired of all the excuses. This may very well be the end of a so called Dynasty!

  • http://www.poundingtherock.com Tim C.

    Raja Bell would be awesome. I’ve wanted him on the Spurs for a long time now. Not sure he’d have enough time to pick up on what the Spurs do after he comes back in March, but it would definitely be worth taking the chance IMO.

  • http://espn.com jacob

    camby…

    bogans, bonner, mahinmi, and a pick

  • doggydogworld

    So the plan is to trade Keith Bogans for a similar player whose minutes won’t “dwindle”?

  • Rye

    Wing stopper is a definite need, but so is number two big. Camby is ideal for this, because he would provide the length, shot blocking/rim protection that this front line so desperately lacks. Ratliff is a poor man’s Camby and because he’s so limited outside of shot blocking, he rarely plays. Camby can make the odd mid-range shot, naturally plays at the high post (meaning he’d stay out of Duncan’s way in the low post) and is a decent passer.

    Acquiring him would mean the Spurs would have two center sized players amongst their top three bigs and a more clearly defined rotation going forward. That continues to be an underrated issue with this team; the lack of role definition.

    Granted, he’s injured, aging and showed slippage last season, but theoretically, a guy like Bell would be a perfect fit. Unless he receives a buy out, it’s highly unlikely the Spurs would have the assets to acquire both Camby and Bell, but a playoff rotation featuring those two as well as: Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, Jefferson, McDyess and Hill (with Blair and Finley, because Mason would almost certainly have to be in a deal, used for spot minutes) would be ideal.

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  • sj_papi

    I’ll bet if the SPURS do make a move before the trade deadline, it will be for a player/s that no one saw coming.

  • http://Spursreport.com Aldo Nicoletti

    SJ_PAPI

    You are soooooo right…

    I hope its Troy Murphey

  • Trade TP

    Mason/Parker to the Knicks for Jeffries/Harrington?

  • Colin

    For all the talk about making a deal, which I’m not in favor of, this team has what it takes as presently constructed. As Pop says, make some damn shots and quit making stupid mistakes at critical points in the game. Fucking compete for 48 minutes please! I know this team can compete in a 7-game series with anyone if THEY COMPETE FOR 48 minutes! They have played maybe 2 or 3 games where they exhibited this quality. Too many lapses on defense and turning over the ball kill this team when they aren’t making shots (crappy shots qualify as a turnover)……..Oh and Richard Jefferson has been very disappointing in maintaining overall consistency such as shot-making, getting to the rim, as well as being a weak leak in the team’s defensive schemes. He is not the same player the Spurs thought they were getting. I don’t want to hear excuses about meshing and gelling yadayada. These are some of the best athletes in the world (gymnasts can arguably be put in that category). If they want to deny the ball, they can. If they want a rebound, they can get it. If they want to take care of the ball, they can. Get it the hell together!

    I’m not far away from saying that the Spurs just don’t have it anymore.

  • Dennis Lippy

    Chris Kaman in a Spurs uniform would fill the bill nicely…………………..

  • Bushka

    I’m still solid on the team as it stands.

    The system is tough to learn, and there is still ample potential.

    I hope they stay the course and don’t tinker with the team.

  • grego

    @lvmainman

    Nothing the Spurs can really do to win this year. A move this midway in the season will go towards next year. The Spurs system doesn’t work that way.

    Gasol is a once in a blue moon kind of deal. Spurs don’t even have enough expiring contracts to get a player like him. Lets take Camby for example. Spurs would need to move at least 3 players to get him.

    Spurs have expiring contracts, but one are big enough to take the burden of a good players contract. At least a guy who can actually make a difference because he’s a 2nd best player star.

  • analyzed

    what the spurs lack is a quick , athletic , defensive oriented big man. We’ve been burned by atheltic qucik bigs Boozer, Kenyon , bosh to name a few. On pick and rolls are bigs have had difficulty switching and containing dibble penetration guard, aka brooks, rose etc

  • not as good as I once was

    I’m tired of all this negativity towards the Spurs. so I would like to take a minute to thank all the players who helped us win 4 championships. Robinson, Duncan, Parker, Manu, Bowen (sorry to see you go) and all the role players like Horry, Steve Kerr, and the list goes on. You not only put S.A. on the map but you did it with class. You gave us alot of pride and alot of great memories. In my heart you will always be Spurs thank you.

  • Trade TP

    Not as good-

    This is a business. Stop crying and living in the past.

  • wannabe_fan

    Tim and Graydon, it was nice to see the additions you made to the blog, and nicer to see their contributions. Unfortunately, it’s not enough. It is past time to add more staff to 48MoH. Here are my recommendations:

    Orthopedic specialist to deal with the sprained ankles suffered by the many posters jumping on and off the bandwagon

    Neurologist to treat the “Trade TP” crowd. They are obviously dealing with concussions or other traumatic brain injuries.

    Social Worker/Therapist/12 Step program for the folks addicted to ESPN trade machine AND trades that only exist in their heads.

    Good luck in getting the needed staff, I just hope they will gel as quickly as the latest hires and not mess up the chemistry here at 48MoH.

  • Josh

    Lol @ wannabe_fan (especially the “Trade TP” part)

    The Rockets didn’t do as good as expected after adding Clyde Drexler during the 94-95 season until they got to the playoffs and caught on fire. The Heat also weren’t as good as advertised during the 05-06 season after adding several big names to the roster. But then came the playoffs and the rest is history.

    There are still 36 games to go. SA may do so well during this stretch that everyone forgets the first half of the season. Then again they may continue on this course until playoff time. Nobody knows what will happen with this squad because they’ve been so inconsistent this season.

    Sometimes players click right away (Gasol & Lakers; KG, Pierce, Allen) and sometimes it takes a while. The times that I’ve seen the Spurs firing on all cylinders this season though gives me hope for the rest of the season. If they can finally just put it all together consistently then I think they are championship contenders.

  • Half-Court Heaves

    Sticking your head in the sand and hoping things get better is not the best option. Flashes of greatness do not a championship make. Just ask the 2007 Warriors. At the same time, panicking and taking a crap deal (like yet another aging big man in Camby, or an injured player that won’t be useful for another year like Bell) is clearly not the answer either. The team, and Popovich, have to find a way to be cohesive on a nightly basis. Performances like the ones that we’ve had against the Hornets and the Hawks are the gate to championship.

    However, with no consistency on either end of the floor, we are the great lumbering enigma of the NBA, destined to be a second round sweep or near-sweep.

    Unless the seeding remains. Then we get swept by the god damn Jazz again.

  • not as good as I once was

    Yes this is a buisness, I undedrstand that. I do not live in the pass. But at the same time there is nothing wrong with being thankful for what someone brings you. You on the other hand only apprechiate what someone is giving you now. You have the what can you do for me now syndrome. You would be the type to discard someone once they stopped giving you what you want.

  • Labrat

    Young 7 foot center who is athletic and can defend , block shots, score and play with Tim, Tony, Manu, Blair, Hill, Mason, and some good free agents and good late round draft picks.

    You’ll have to wait for next season for that.

  • Redge

    HEY RC Buford…

    As one of the SPURS fan I would like you to trade Antonio and RJ because they didnt make a huge impact on the roster of the SAS… you should trade this two guys to someone who is young and athletic…. someone who plays D and shoots perimeter shots better…. You should get Brook Lopez and the SF of the nets…. Or you can get Outlaw of the Portland Blazers and LaMarcus Aldridge or Greg Oden… then if this happens the twin towers on the San Antonio will come again and hopefully new championship trophy….

    RC!!! do this…………

    JUST
    DO
    IT

    NIKE…

    ^^

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