Notes from Wayne Winston, part 2


Recently, 48MoH has discussed the struggles of San Antonio’s interior defense.  Please see The Roots of Defensive Decline and The Root of All Defensive Evil for discussion of these points.  But a struggling interior defense is often an indication of a prior breakdown on the perimeter, which seems to be the case with San Antonio this season, Manu Ginobili’s Manu-ness not withstanding. (He’s gone all ice cold clutch lately.) This post will look at the bigger picture, and my timing couldn’t be worse.

One point of interest from my recent conversation with Wayne Winston is whether George Karl is correct in his assessment that,

Defensively, they [the Spurs] are not a dominant defensive team as they once were. They used to be incredible around the basket. You now can score around the basket on them more than ever before. But they’re still solid. They’re still sound, conceptually. (Pop) has tricks, he can mess with you. But they were so good for so many years.

We chart our baskets within five feet of the basket every night. Halftime, I’d go in there against SA and we’d be 2 for 15. They just wouldn’t let you score around the basket. That’s different now.

They used to play two bigs. Now you can take Duncan away from the basket. You can take their bigs away and attack their smalls a little more. You take Duncan in the pick and roll, you’ve got Bonner, or McDyess or Blair covering the basket. That’s just not as good as it was when it was David Robinson, or Nesterovic or Mohammed or someone like that.

Winston provided these numbers, which may support Karl.

Player Defensive Rating
Tim Duncan -13
Antonio McDyess -8
Matt Bonner -8
DeJuan Blair -6
Richard Jefferson +1
George Hill +5
Tony Parker +5
Keith Bogans +6
Manu Ginobili +9
Michael Finley +12

First, what do the numbers mean? In short, when Tim Duncan is on the court, the Spurs hold the opposition to 13 fewer points on average per 48 minutes. The ratings are adjusted with respect to whom a player is on the court with, so it’s not a intended to rate man-to-man defense. It rates Player X’s contribution to team defense.

In the big picture, Winston’s numbers suggest that San Antonio’s bigs are holding their own. The perimeter players, on the other hand, are being exploited. This is where the Karl quote might help. Winston tells me it’s fair to assume the perimeter players’ ratings are lower than expected because they’re sometimes exploited during small-ball sets. Richard Jefferson tends to break even, or thereabout, which might help us to understand why he’s Popovich’s go-to small-ball four, although the Spurs may have put that experiment to bed.

But the Spurs’ defense is overwhelmingly better with two bigs on the floor, even if one of them is the oft-criticized Matt Bonner. I asked Winston how he accounted for Bonner’s stong defensive rating when most of us would characterize his man defense as mediocre. His response makes good basketball sense:

With Bonner in Spurs have Eff. FG % age of 55% with him out only 51%. I think this means when Bonner is in Spurs spread floor and get good shots. So less transition baskets for opponents. Our defensive rating is based on team points given up; it’s not based on 1 on 1 defense. So if you cut your team’s turnovers and cut transition baskets you can have good rating even if your one on one defense is so so.

But let’s take a moment to consider Ginobili’s poor defensive rating, and, more importantly, what it means for the Spurs.

Earlier this year, I spoke with statistician Steve Ilardi concerning Bruce Bowen’s defense. Here is part of what Ilardi told me:

I  just went back and looked at Bowen’s Defensive APM in a six-year average model (all seasons evenly weighted from 2003-2009).  His Defensive APM number of +2.95 was 4th best among perimeter (non-big) starters/high-minute guys over that span.  He only trailed [Ron] Artest (+5.09), [Shane] Battier (+3.92), and (ironically enough) [Manu] Ginobili (+3.24).

[In Ilardi’s scheme, a positive defensive APM is good; Winston ranks in accord with the opposing teams points totals, and so a negative number is associated with good defense. So, I concede, this is not exactly apples to apples, but the numbers are largely consistent, despite the difference in presentation, in what they indicate.]

In other words, prior to this season, Ginobili’s defense was good, perhaps great. He was under-appreciated in that regard. But he can no longer be categorized as an elite defender–except when the game is on the line, and then he’s an elite everything.  Put this together with the loss of Bruce Bowen to old age, and the Spurs are, functionally speaking, two perimeter defenders short of where they were last season.

Winston associates Ginobili’s falling defensive ranking with his ankle injury. This could mean that Ginobili’s defense is still recovering, as the highlight reel moments of last night would suggest. Or it could mean that Manu is not the same. I suspect we’ll get an answer for this question in the postseason.

It’s a fixable problem, so long as it’s recognized as a problem to fix. In the short term, the Spurs’ options are limited. Winston thinks their best chance of improving this season involves shortening the rotation–or, more precisely, 5-man units–to their best 10 lineups and giving them heavier minutes. The current team does not have many successful combinations beyond that.

  • Tyler

    Interesting piece. Well done.

    Not that we needed defensive stats to be back it up, but it appears to be pretty obvious – if Finley isn’t shooting well, he doesn’t need to be on the court.

    Also, one question – does this formula take into account the opposition, similar to adjusted +/-?
    My point is, could Hill’s and Bogans’ defensive rating above be artificially higher than others because they typically draw the opponent’s best perimeter player?

  • B.D.

    I find this kind of statistical analysis to be less compelling than that of the first installment.

    I would like to see defensive ratings (opp FG%, forced TOs, etc., not just +/-) based on 5-man units, weighted appropriately (if possible) to eliminate garbage time from consideration. My hunch is that the best unit is Hill-Ginobili-RJ-McDyess-Duncan.


    Agreed. They dont have any successful combinations. I agree that they are losing due to lack of a true center. This is why Duncan moving to 5 wouldnt be a bad idea. As for help, all they have on thier roster is Mahinmi, but apparently he is never going to play. Shame because I think that playing Blair at the 5 is ridiculous.

    This team is still good at what they do, but are just missing players. The guard play could improve. Parker and Hill are much closer to 2 guards. However, they could both really help thier tem mates if they would play a lil point as well. Get the ball to Duncan, Blair, Mcdyess, and Jefferson in the right spots at the right times. See the floor a little better and keep everyone involved.

    Bottom line is that the Spurs can improve. But, in order to improve, Mahimni and Hairston must play, now. Need Hairstons athletic ability and defense and desperately need a man in the middle.

    Take Dallas for instance. They brought in Haywood and Butler via trade. They didnt crap around with teaching them the system, waiting for them to gell, blah, blah, blah…

    They brought them in and put them on the floor immediately and in the process, made them feel like part of the family…and they are playing well. Seems like such a simple process…But, Hey…

    Guess this FO and Coach didnt see any value in Haywood either…

    Without a post presense to protect the middle…cant win in this years playoffs..

    Portand, Dallas, Denver, Utah, OKC, Lakers, …all tough outs…

    Hoping for the best though…

    Go Spurs….

  • td4life

    Even the two best perimeter guys (battier & artest) on the same team isn’t enough without size in the middle… i would be interested to see the ratings of other true bigs around the league, from Bosh to Camby, Thomas, Pryzbilla, etc.

  • B.D.

    Maybe the Spurs should make a run at Big Z.

  • idahospur

    This team just needs to keep, at least, 2 bigs on the floor at a time. Who are the bigs? Duncan, Bonner, Dice, Blair, Mahinmi. Sure Bonner isn’t the best but he is what he is, and he definitely should not play the 5 with someone like RJ or Finley at the 4.
    I still think RJ should come off the bench, let him play against the other team’s scrubs and maybe he can play equal. RJ isn’t going to run with Kobe or whoever is, so he should play against Vuyacheech or Luke Walton.

  • junierizzle

    I don’t need to crunch numbers to know the Spurs need another big in there.

    George Karl has confirmed what I have been fearing. Teams just aren’t scared of the Spurs D anymore. They know they can take it to the cup practically at will. Its hard to play D when guys can get lay ups.
    I’m tired of saying play IAN, so I won’t say it.

    Just look at the Mavs/Lakers game last night. Haywood didn’t play shut down D but just him being out there made it difficult for the Lakers. They even outrebounded the Lake Show.
    Having said that, I still don’t think the can beat The Lakers in the Playoffs.

  • Spursfanfromafar

    What I am not able to do is to reconcile Wayne Winston’s APM numbers with something like what says –

    This data shows that the only position where a Spurs player is less efficient than the opponent is at PF; that is the second big man along with Duncan.

    If all the bigs in WW’s scheme have +s, how is that at PF there is such a downfall.

    If both WW and 82games are consistent, this could only mean one thing – a large amount of on court time has been spent by the guards/SFs at PF – Pop’s crazy small ball game in other words.

    Or there is something about WW’s system that needs work.

    Basketballvalue for e.g. gives these ratings for +/- :

    which is a little bit more acceptable along with and the Small Ball theory.

  • NL

    There’s a reason Ian and Hairston don’t play yet…they’re not ready. Pop works with the same 12 or 13 players every day; he’s not stubborn enough to not play them if they’re out performing veterans on the floor. I know Pop has a bias for veterans but there’s a reason Ian only really played against the Nets, and I’m as big of an Ian fan as anyone. I’m hoping he and Splitter are this team’s future. Go Spurs.

  • Chris K.

    Now that Ilgauskus is out there, any thought to the Spurs making a play for him? He’s certainly got size. Similar, but better than, Rasho. I don’t think it would be difficult to integrate him in, particularly since Mike Brown is a guy raised in the Spurs organization, their defensive and offensive schemes probably have some similarity.

    …Although we all expect him to sign with the Cavs again…

    I think he would help us quite a bit, actually, and we ought to make a good faith pitch to him.


    This coach has everyone brain washed…Mahinmi played against New Jersey and played well…

    Hairston killed the D League and can flat out play.

    So, I guess we are to believe that Hairston couldnt give us Finley minutes? Bogans minutes?

    Are we saying that Haislip couldnt have given us Bonner minutes?

    Come on guys…This same coach gave Bonner an opportunity to play and paid him millions.

    Why not these kids? What harm could they cause in 10 minutes of play that the current role players arent already causing?

    LMAO…Its like a Go Pop Go parade everyday.

    Wanna know the truth, just look around the league. Besides, what other NBA coach wouldnt have at least tried to play the 6’10 Haislip, the 6’10 Ratliff, the 6’10 Mensa Bonsu, the 6’6 Hairston, or the 6’6 point guard, Marcus Williams….

    I just put that out there so that it is welll known that not all of the Spur Nation agrees with or even understands the logic behind anything that this coach does.

    Ex..Putting Bogans on Durant..Keep dreaming….LMAO

    Doesnt make us any less Spur fans, just frustrates the hell out of us to be losing because of it…

  • BlaseE

    @ BALLHOG and all else interested… lists players PER’s by position as well as the opposition’s PER. I have no idea how they assign the player’s positions so take that into account when you read this.

    Power Forward
    Duncan: 37.8 vs 13.3 (+24.5)
    Dice: 14.3 vs 21.3 (-7.0)
    Blair: 14.1 vs 18.3 (-4.2)
    Bonner: 16.9 vs 14.5 (+2.4)
    Jefferson: 13.8 vs 21.1 (-7.4) (-.6 at SF)
    Bogans: 10.6 vs 10.7 (-.1) (-1.1 @ SG and -4.9 @ SF, but relatively consistent in terms of PER’s…his offense suffers at SF though)

    Duncan: 29.7 vs 17.8 (+11.9)
    Dice: 18.9 vs 17.1 (+1.8)
    Blair: 23.4 vs 21.6 (+1.9)
    Bonner: 23.3 vs 34.7 (-11.4)
    Ratliff: 8.9 vs 21.5 (-12.6)
    Mahinmi: 19.2 vs 45.9 (-26.7 over small sample size, 1% of our total center minutes)

    I won’t include Finley in the lists, but his net numbers are +5.7, -5.2, and -15.7 at the 2, 3, and 4 respectively.

    Okay, that’s a lot of numbers. So here are some thoughts (some are pretty obvious, but the data confirms them).

    -Duncan is super awesome. Duh.
    -Blair is a rookie and slightly better at center, but his height or inexperience is hurting him on D. His defensive ceiling will determine how great he can be.
    -Dice can’t guard 4’s as well as 5’s, but like Blair is way more productive at the 5.
    -Bonner can’t guard 5’s but his offense nets us better than Ratliff’s atrocity.
    -RJ is our worst PF option.
    -Bogans is good on D.
    -Finley is a SG now.

    -From a pure defensive standpoint, the numbers say Dice at center and Bogans at PF would limit opposing front court production the best.
    -For offense, you go Duncan at PF and Blair/Bonner at C.
    -For net, you go Duncan at PF and Blair/Dice at C.

    So Duncan and Dice are the top option with Dice at center.

    For more:

    Anyone want to do this for the wing positions?

  • Tyler

    Ballhog –

    I don’t think anyone’s saying you’re any less a Spurs’ fan for voicing criticism – the last thing we need is yes-men for fans.

    Sure, Ian played well against NJ. But keep in mind, NJ is quite possibly the worst team in NBA history. And if you look at the timing of that game, I would venture to say his appearance was mainly an attempt to increase his trade value. Ian is also a foul machine and as was written about a few days ago on this blog, not fouling is one of the key tenets of the Spurs’ defensive scheme.

    I agree with you that Hairston should get some minutes – I think he at least deserves that chance. But being D-League All-Star in no way guarantees success in the NBA – the cards are still stacked against you in a big way. In the big scheme of things, when you look at how this season has gone, I highly doubt Hairston playing improves our record much, if at all. On the list of this season’s mistakes, Hairston not playing is peripheral.

    Haislip is 29. If he hasn’t stuck in the league at this point, it’s not because he hasn’t been given enough chances. The guy has not demonstrated he can play at the NBA level. He’s a human pogo stick with no basketball IQ. Sure, his highlight tape looks great, until you actually put him in an NBA system. Ideally, he needs to go to GS or Phoenix to have a chance.

    Also, I thought the combo of Bogans, Hill, and RJ played about as well as one could ask on Durant. Considering the role he’s been on, holding him to 5 below his average qualifies as satisfactory I think.

  • DieHardSpur

    BlaseE –

    All I got from that was – Duncan is a Bad Ass!

  • td4life

    the numbers you’ve posted pointed out the OBVIOUS, that Tim at PF, and Dice/Blaire at the 5 are our best combos.

    In terms of PER, Duncan is the league’s best center, in part b/c of the lack of league-wide talent at that position… because of his size, talent, and IQ, he is also a dominant PF– which is why small guys like Jeff Green, Al Harrington,etc are never a great choice as a PF, that guys like Pau, Bosh, KG, even Aldridge, and maybe eventually the likes of Tyrus Thomas are, if you can acquire such guys, always a better option; nevermind effing small ball.

  • Rick Ashford


    I give Pop the benefit of the doubt because, unless your name is Phil Jackson, he’s won more championships than anybody else in the NBA.

    Pop is not anti-youth. He plays Hill and Blair, as well as giving Parker an early role. He only gives those minutes to people who earn them, and he obviously feels like Hairston/Mahinmi/Mensah-Bonsu/etc. have/did not earn them.

    I’d also love to see what Hairston can do, but I also know that lighting up the D-League is not the same thing as being successful in the NBA. If it was, Morris Almond would have an NBA job right now.

    I know it’s frustrating for us to watch these players take so long to adjust to our system. I go through it too. Folks have called for us to strip it down even more, so that people can get going faster.

    But you know what? The two most complex systems in the league are in San Antonio and Los Angeles (Lakers). Guess where 8 of the last 11 championships have come from? The system wins consistently, so stripping it down reduces its effectiveness.

    Personally, I wonder if the strip-down job we did this year hurt more than it help. The new guys still had to learn a lot, but the older guys who knew it now had to second-guess themselves a lot more as they have to restrain themselves from running plays that are no longer in the playbook.

    I’m as frustrated as anybody (I shelled out for season tickets for the first time, and it’s disappointing to be paying that much money to watch an underachieving team), but I trust the front office and I trust the system enough to give them some slack. They made some gambles over the summer, and thus far they haven’t paid off. Hopefully things get better by the end of the year, and if not, then I fully expect them to do what’s best for the franchise.

  • Tyler

    Make that 9 below his average.

  • BlaseE

    My response was to BALLHOG saying it wasn’t a bad idea to move Duncan to the 5. My point is, that is a terrible idea unless you love Bonner. Or you want small ball with Bogans at the 4 with Manu, Hill, and Parker (not a terrible option for small ball).

    The whole thing isn’t about Duncan’s awesomeness which transcends position. It was about what positions Dice, Blair, and Bonner can play since physically they all seem more like PF’s than centers. It also shows Mahinmi and Ratliff sucked on D and O respectively and don’t deserve minutes/to be here, respectively.

    @ DieHardSpur

    I was tempted not to write because a cursory read won’t do anything. You really have to look at the positional numbers and compare them to that players numbers at the other position. Rotations are about balancing the rotation and realizing Duncan can’t play both PF and C and Manu can’t play both PG and SG at the same time. Who do they need to play with? What position do they need to be at with those players? The numbers I posted give insight into the answers to those questions.

  • greyberger

    quick note on position on 82games:

    It looks like they assign a few players a set position and sort the rest into positions based on who they play with. Tim is always the Center; the next biggest player on the court is the PF. If Tim’s not on the court Blair is the center; if neither Tim or Blair is on the court then Dice plays the 5.

  • rj

    so has hairston taken ian’s place on the bench?

  • td4life

    These numbers also indicate why we would be so much better with more (any?) centers (not named Mahinimi) on the team, with the likes of camby, haywood even przybilla, or Rasho, ftm, we would have more wins. If we had 2-3 defensive centers, one of which could swing to play behind TD, we’d be an elite team if healthy, all other things considered. This is our #1 flaw.
    Not coaching,
    Not even perimeter (including point guard) production. Which is our #2 liability. These two flaws are not the fault of the players– the guys we have are doing what they do, for the most part. The blame is with Pop and RC who put this roster together.

  • junierizzle

    They shoulda made a push for Haywood.

    I read on ESPN that Big Z is being sought after a bunch of teams. They only one they named was MAVS. I hope we hear that at least the Spurs made an offer.

    As far as the argument about NOT playing IAN. He must suck in practice or He only played good against The Nets because they’re the Nets.

    I am on the PLAY IAN team. I’m realistic and I know this guy isn’t gonna be a savior. All I am saying is that he can’t do any worse than the guys that are getting playing time. IAN has gotten minutes and he hasn’t exactly dazzled. He has travelled more than once. But that’s garbage time. It doesn’t matter. Besides if he starts a game for example, YOu’re not going to throw it into him on the block and tell him to go to work. He just needs to take up space and get easy dunks that MANU sets up for him.

    Hell, McDeezy and FInely went O-fer last night. IAN can go 0-fer too. But maybe with 8 rebounds.

    ANother thing is, IAN doesn’t have to score. He just needs to be out there trying to rebound. I’m sure he can at least keep a couple of posessions alive just by getting a finger on the ball.

  • Jacob

    So the questions for me are:

    1) who is going to be bought out that might help our perimeter defense this season?

    2) who is going to be bought out that might help our interior defense this season?

  • spursrocks

    i think poop has lost it, playing midget ball for the rest of the season wont work. i dont understand why the FO traded theo for money n 2016 draft pick? they should have traded for a center for our expirings!
    Look at haywood, he was a monster in dallas against the lakers last night, 5 blocks! 9 rebounds! 11 points! dallas is on a 5 win streak now. their is no excuse for us not to gell this time around. dallas traded for haywood and butler and they started winning games, we traded for richard n dice we dont win and start hearing excuses we dont gell blah blah blah.
    if the FO traded for haywood, he would have help our team big time!
    but too sad, even if we have haywood on our team POP will still use finley, the bogners(bonner n bogans), richard at pf and send haywood to the doghouse to play poker with mahinmi!
    fire pop
    hire coach K!
    hire aj!
    or hire jeff van gundy!(defense specialist, plays big ball)
    heck even sean elliot can be a coach better than pop


    Im hoping that the young guys get on the court. Just feel that they would give this team a boost.

    I mean, its not like we would lose a thing..

    Oh wait a minute. Let me pump my brakes..

    We would lose the 6 points and 3 rebounds of Red Rocket and the 4 points, 2 rebounds from Keith “The Kobe Stopper” Bogans…

    Again, ROFLMAO-

    Realistically, could Mahinmi and Hairston ever match that type of explosive production? Nahhhh…They are just D Leaguer’s. again…ROFLMAO-

    At least play Dice at 5 and Blair at the 3…No 3 could guard Blair….It would put him at an advantage…

    Finally, gotta love G-LO! He was nice in the OKC game. When that guy decides to play some ball, he is flat out nasty…

    What a block…Guess he has his legs back…

  • Bushka

    Guys I love to pretend that we could have any player out there too. Just look at the numbers in all the trades that happened though.

    The problem with trading for Haywood, was that he was attached as a sweetner in deals involving either Jamison/Butler/Stevenson.

    To get Haywood for instance you’d have to take Butler and Stevenson. Plus the 15 million bucks worth of cap space they’ll take up next year.

    The only thing the wizards wanted back was expirings.

    So you would have to come up with about 21 million in expirings or something special.

    Firstly say goodbye to Manu. Then find anotehr 10 million in expirings. Bonner + Finley + Mason would probably have gotten it done.

    Now does that win you a title?

    Because heres the news flash.

    You now have 70 Million in Salary committed to next season, BEFORE you look at resigning Haywood (because he is a free agent), and before you touch splitter.

    So if you don’t win, and Haywood gets a better offer from elsewhere (which he will) you can’t sign anyone else as a free agent because your capped out to the max, and you have given up all your flexibility for a team a gutted small market team.

    So you get Butler & Stevenson next year, No Manu, an exorbitant luxury tax bill & 25 million committed at the small forward slot between him & RJ.

    Then you have to start trying to use those expirings to trade for a big man…but wait!!!! It’s 2010 NO ONE WANTS to take on frigging salary and your lumbered.

    How many years can this franchise sustain 80 million dollar payrolls? We are not L.A & We don’t have Cubans depth of pocket.

    Take a long view guys. No one needs to be a genius to understand that. It’s how Pop Coachs the entire season.

    We rolled our die with the RJ trade. It made sense at the time to 90% of us (me included), we whiffed. Move on and stop the griping. We were never big time players on the trade market this year.

  • Bushka

    Just a quick reply ballhog.

    Putting Blair at 3 kills his production. He can’t defend speed because he needs to body his man and you just pull him away from the basket where he can’t board effectively.

    The irony is that if you played Blair at 3 you’d have to play someone like Bonner big minutes at 4 otherwise opposing teams would just stack the hell out of poor old Timmy without fear of getting hurt by the spurs 3 point shooters.

  • AWF

    Why don’t the Spurs go after Zydrunas Ilgauskas?

  • Hicksy

    I just think that Hairston will give us the same/better D and better Off than Bogans seems roughly same size but with better speed and Athletic abiltiy.
    I’m on the play Ian train as well, I know he’s foul prone (hard to stop that when you don’t get in the game!!!) but he give’s us that big defender.

    Call me crazy but I still believe this unit has BIG potential to win

    GO SPURS GO!!!

  • Jim Henderson

    Very nice. Thanks Tim & Winston!

    I think based on your analysis, the hypothesis that Ginobli’s effectiveness in perimeter “D” has been more limited this year makes sense (through perhaps age & injury – so that now he generally plays better more at the end of games).

    In looking at the plus/minus numbers of the players, I would suggest that the player’s likelihood of being on the court during more high-octane episodes of offensive/defensive transition type basketball results in the numbers not really being a true measure of what they’re purported to measure. In other words, the relationship between the “numbers” and the player’s effectiveness at team defense is not linear. There are other variables that must be considered within the context of the game itself.

    Just as an example, when Ginobli’s in the game the Spurs tend to play more up-tempo, more transition offense/defense, and I would say score more, and give-up more (Tim – it would be interesting to see the OFFENSIVE +/- for each player as well – and info if possible about offensive/defensive effectiveness #’s in transition). It can get a bit complicated, I know, but the point is, those players with positive numbers tend to be bigger/older/slower guys who are more likely to be involved in a half-court offensive scheme that’s going to give up LESS, but also score LESS per minute on the floor. So, is it a pure measure of player team defense effectiveness, or as much of a function of the degree of team tempo when a given player is on the court.

    I think the “transition” numbers may be distorting the measure a bit, and it would be interesting to flesh that out some. For example, I think the Spurs have been pretty weak defensively all the way around (perimeter, paint, transition). In other words, I don’t think the Spurs defensive problem is MORE a function of poor perimeter “D”, and we would therefore be making a mistake to FOCUS corrective action in that area in particular. Just a thought, I could be wrong.

  • Jim Henderson


    February 25th, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    I agree with this comment! Someone gets that Pop knows what he’s doing. I’m thrilled (no, I didn’t say he is perfect).

  • Jim Henderson

    Chris K.

    February 25th, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    I’m not real high on Z, but if we want ANY remote chance of making a decent run in the playoffs THIS YEAR, we MUST have another skilled/veteran big man. And Z’s the best available right now. So I’m not opposed to making a pitch, but obviously the Cav’s have the edge, and, can we even afford Z without waiving players that we still need?

  • Jim Henderson


    February 25th, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    You just can’t give it a rest, can you. You probably think Pee Wee Herman could have won the 4 titles with the players we had, and now that our players are not as good we’re struggling because Pop never really knew what he was doing anyway. And now it’s become obvious — he’s been exposed as a fraud, because before, he was lucky to be blessed with star players. It was all good fortune then, not good coaching whatsoever. Yeah, right!

  • Jim Henderson


    February 25th, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Nice, sensible commentary.

  • Jim Henderson


    February 25th, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Yeah, let’s just blame Pop for everything, even for things he’s not fully accountable for (e.g., trades)! You and others just need a scapegoat, let’s just face it. Pop’s your “poster boy”. LOL.

  • Chris K.

    Link to a great article about the 2010 free agent class. By Kevin Pelton’s numbers, Manu Ginobili is the fourth best free agent behind Lebron, Wade, and Bosh…

  • Jim Henderson


    February 25th, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    You say:

    “At least play Dice at 5 and Blair at the 3…No 3 could guard Blair….It would put him at an advantage…”

    Who’s Blair going to guard, Rudy Gay, or….. perhaps just the matador?

    You say:

    “Im hoping that the young guys get on the court. Just feel that they would give this team a boost.

    I mean, its not like we would lose a thing..

    Oh wait a minute. Let me pump my brakes..

    We would lose the 6 points and 3 rebounds of Red Rocket and the 4 points, 2 rebounds from Keith “The Kobe Stopper” Bogans…”

    Obviously, there’s a lot more to the game than points & rebounds. How about allowing a lay-up parade from blown defensive assignments, how about throwing the ball in the first row one too many times, how about ……take your pick. Plus there’s a lot of intangibles that experience has over your “youth campaign”. In short, Pop knows what he’s doing.

  • Jim Henderson


    February 25th, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Two weeks ago I proposed a trade for Haywood & Foye for Ginobli (all expiring deals that matched well on the trade machine). I thought it was worth a look, despite loving Ginobli, because I believed it was critical for us to obtain a big like Haywood to effectively compete in the playoffs. I left Butler out in an effort to simplify the transaction as much as possible (with the way Ginobli played last night I would have died pulling the trigger). I just want to say your post explained very well how difficult it often is to make a deal work. We all need to keep that in mind, and not complain over something we just couldn’t pull off (e.g., getting Haywood). I’m sure the FO looked at it, probably pretty seriously. It’s just a shame because he probably could of helped us, but it is what it is.

  • td4life

    Bushka is correcto… Haywood was out of reach during this season, given the Wizard’s agenda, and trading Manu was always a bad idea all along (as more fans are starting to realize). We were long shots for any exciting trade acquisitions this season… and the FO tried to get in on some of the action, but couldn’t seduce anyone with McD, RMj, RJ, or whatever expirings we may have dangled… a lot of it goes back to the trades this past summer (which seriously disappointed a minority of us, who felt it dramatically jeopardized the championship window of TD and Manu), but for the sake of arguement, since the moment has passed, it wasn’t Haywood who was the blown opportunity for the reasons Bushka detailed… yet, I think that the FO was, nonetheless, too conservative in overhauling the roster mid-season…

    Our only legitimate moves woulda been to
    (A) package RJ with a valuable piece… namely Parker, if he, in fact, has appeal to suitable trade partners. I think we can all see why Pop would be reluctant to such a move mid-season, especially this season while TP is injured and worth less (2 words).
    (B) be willing to sacrifice a large portion of our roster (expirings and the likes of McDyess) for the likes of Camby, and Tyrus Thomas (who are also expiring contracts, and also, obviously, coulda been moved for very little). A gamble? Yes. Worth it? In term of +/- values, Camby was rated highest on his team (the standing owned by TD on our team), and Thomas was rated 2nd (Manu’s standing. However, our Big 2 each have higher ratings than these counterparts, and than most of the players in the league, period.) A guy like Haywood could only be pursued by the Spurs in the offseason, although he probably gets better offers elsewhere, even if we create room to make him a realistic offer.

    I bring this up (again) b/c these are all guys who are technically free agents this summer, although the risk is much higher, as is the difficulty of getting them. At best, we probably only get one such player. Z is too big a financial risk to try to outbid for, given what he does and doesn’t bring, and what we would hope to do in the coming trading seasons. The Spurs, are only gonna make big moves if they think such moves make us contenders, Z may bring more than McDyess, but he’s not gonna put us in the same conversation with the elite teams.

    Our other strategies, such as trying to trade for Iggy and Dalembert, or Maggette, or Deng, or adding role-players such as Mike Miller, would arguably be as uncertain a play as we made last summer. (Now, if we could plug in several of those guys, including a high-quality big, THAT would be something special. But that’s a lot to wish for, and could still blow up in RC’s face.)

    The good news is, even RJ and McD are probably gonna start giving us more return on investment from here on out. I don’t see this group being an elite team, but hopefully they will put in a stronger showing on their way to an earlier vacation than TD and Manu deserve with their improved play this season.

  • td4life

    Hey, Popovich just figured out that Richard Jefferson is not a Power Forward, and now guys want to him to move Blair to the perimeter? Blair maybe short, maybe he hustles like mad, but we don’t want him to try to learn a position that he’s never played and isn’t suited for. DB is strictly an inside presence, and you can’t have 3 guys getting in eachother’s way down low. No way he guards 3s.

    DB is an inside guy, end of story.

  • New York City

    Bushka: Thank you for your well thought out argument as to why we were never in a position to acquire Heywood. Your well informed and rational opinions are a breath of fresh air.

    To all who have been calling for Big Z, let’s put this one to rest right now. Pretend you were Ilgauskas. What would you do?

    From everything that’s been reported, it seems that money is not an issue as he can expect to get the same amount no matter what team he signs with.

    What’s in it for him to return to Cleveland? Well, there’s the fact that he’s played there his entire career, his family (including a boy he just adopted) lives there, he knows their system better than anyone, the Cleveland fans love him, and they have the best shot of any team outside of the Lakers of taking home the championship this year. Ironically, they just got even better by trading him.

    What’s in it for him to sign with the Spurs? He doesn’t know the system. He has no connection to this team or this city, nor do Spurs fan have any connection with him. His role and expected playing time would be uncertain given the way Pops has been coaching this year (he may not even want to shoulder the role of starting center given his age and history of injuries). Instead of playing for the #1 Eastern conference team, he will be playing for a Western conference team in danger of falling out of the playoffs altogether. Instead of possibly winning what may be his only championship with Lebron and Shaq and retiring a hometown hero, he will get the honor of playing alongside Duncan and Manu in a first round exit as consolation.

    So tell me, if you were Ilgauskas, what would you do?

  • Jim Henderson


    February 25th, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Fair enough assessment. I don’t agree with all that you said because I’m not sure you’re willing to give up something really good to get something really good. You sometimes mention who might help us, but generally fail to be specific about who we might give up that would make sense to the other team. Granted, letting Manu go would be a difficult decision, for a variety of reasons. I just know there’s NO way we can contend in the playoffs with the team we have, but with a big that brings what Haywood brings to the table, along with a young SG talent, we MIGHT have a shot at making a deep run (this would include a number of things going right, including Parker getting & staying healthy fairly soon, the continued development of Hill, an uptick to RJ’s game more in tune to avg. performance over career, etc.).

  • New York City

    All this posturing by his agent of talking to other teams is to give him plausible deniability against accusations of collusion. Make no mistake, Big Z is going to retire a hometown hero in Cleveland. End of story. Anyone who believes for a second he would sign with the Spurs is not dealing in reality.

    Give it a rest already. It’s not happening.

    You people are ridiculous. Just because you want a particular player to sign with your team doesn’t mean that player will want to play for your team. Just because the salaries match up for some hypothetical trade on the ESPN trade machine doesn’t mean it’s a deal.

    This isn’t the forum for your fantasy league. If you can’t deal in reality, please go elsewhere. I for one am sick of it.

  • Chris K.

    I argued that it made sense for the Spurs to make an offer Ilgauskus, with the caveat that the smart money is on him returning to the Cavs. Maybe it’s a waste of time, but he can’t sign with the Spurs unless they offer.

  • Chris K.

    But I do agree that the percent chance of him signing back with the Cavs is probably in the upper 90’s.

  • New York City

    Chris K.: I wasn’t directing my rant toward you. Your comments are sensible. I was directing my frustrations at the less rational, more delusional among us. I’m just fed up with posts that don’t offer anything, waste my time, and clog up the boards.

  • Chris K.


  • Jim Henderson


    February 25th, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Fair enough assessment. I don’t agree with all that you said because I’m not sure you’re willing to give up something really good to get something really good (in terms of their impact on their respective teams). You sometimes mention what players might help us, but generally fail to be specific about who we might give up that would “really make sense to the other team” (e.g., if Thomas & Camby could have been had for “very little” we might have done it. But remember, Camby’s 36 yrs. old [he’s injury prone, and is already injured in Portland], and Thomas is known to have attitude issues. I’m sure Spurs FO believes it makes more sense to make a move for someone mid-season that one believes might have a chance to re-sign longer term (e.g. 3-4 yrs.) after the season, and someone without the attitude issues. Bushka’s analysis looked at the Butler/Haywood/Stevenson deal, and pointed out some problems with that more complicated, expensive proposition. Even if we could have figured out a way to make that deal, we likely would not have been able to resign Butler & Haywood, but possibly Haywood &/or Foye if we could of made that deal).

    As I’m sure you’re aware, nobody really wants RJ right now at that contract. Same for Parker with his contract and injury issues, which have been on and off since last year. Other than Ginobli, the only other expirings we have worthy of mention is Mason (3.7 mil) & Bonner (3.2 mil.). Not the most tempting trade bait in my estimation, and McDyess (not an expiring contract) with his less than scintillating play at age 36, later this year. And the way Manu has played since about a week before the trade, we may not even be able to afford to re-sign him in the off-season anyway.

    Granted, letting Manu go would have been a difficult decision, for a variety of reasons. I just know there’s NO way we can contend in the playoffs with the team we have, but with a big that brings what Haywood brings to the table, along with a young SG talent (I’m telling you, Foye is good & has upside), we MIGHT have had a shot at making a deep run (this would include a number of things going right, including Parker getting & staying healthy fairly soon, the continued development of Hill, an uptick to RJ’s game more in tune to avg. performance over career, etc.).

  • junierizzle

    You mean a player isn’t going to sign with the Spurs just because I want them too?

    WOW! what a mind job.

    Incase you didn’t notice. I’m being sarcastic.

  • SpurfromVI

    I agree with BALLHOG the young players (Hairston and Mahinimi) must play in NBA game situations to improve.

    Also, stats based mostly on garbage time minutes aren’t worth jack! Moreover, because of the small sample size (limited playing time), estimates of PER or any other statistic for Ian must have very wide confidence limits; thus, conclusions based on those stats aren’t worth jack.

    A combo of two 6-11 guys (one with young legs) guarding the rim can’t be worst that the combos that are being used by the spurs in games. I’d like to see Ian gets some minutes with Tim. Let him learn from the master in a real game.