The offseason: challenges, money, and market


When the TrueHoop writers were asked to cast their votes for end-of-year awards I gave Excutive of the Year honors to R.C. Buford. If we re-did the voting tomorrow, I wouldn’t change a thing.

To my mind, the Spurs’ success this season was entirely to the credit of their front office and coaching staff. Towards the end of the season, I was asked by ESPN Chicago to debate whether Gregg Popovich or Tom Thibodeau deserved Coach of the Year. I made two arguments in favor of Popovich, one long, one short. The short one went like this:

The Spurs are on pace to win 67 games. Is anyone else on their roster deserving of an award of any sort? In the absence of other explanations for their historic stomp, it really ought to be obvious — score one for the coach.

The Spurs began to misfire shortly after the argument was published, but, in principle, one could say the same thing for Buford.

The other part of the argument goes like this: the Spurs were demolished by the Phoenix Suns in the 2010 playoffs. Everyone — fans, T.V. talking heads, and sportswriters — were unanimous in their assessment. The Spurs, they said, needed to blow it up. Pre-draft rumors began to swirl, and suddenly we were reading silly things, like the Spurs trading Tony Parker to the Pacers for a stale sandwich.

But R.C. Buford showed enough wisdom to stay the course. He didn’t do anything dramatic. He simply filled in the cracks with players like Gary Neal and Tiago Splitter. The Spurs, despite their disappointing finish, still greatly overachieved by winning 61 games. Vegas, you’ll remember, saw the Spurs at 40-something wins prior to the season. Through 82 games, San Antonio was the best team in the Western Conference. No one thought San Antonio would achieve as much as they did last season.

These next few months will likely feel like Deja Vu for Buford. A year later, the Spurs are faced with the same questions. How do the Spurs remain competitive now and in the future? That is, now while they still have Tim Duncan and, later, when they won’t. And even that challenge is tempered by a sober reality. Having Tim Duncan now is not the same as having Tim Duncan 3 years ago. In other words, San Antonio’s current core is not as good as their 2007 core.

It’s fairly easy to pinpoint the challenges before the Spurs:

  1. their best players are old
  2. they are, at best, a mediocre defensive team
  3. they lack size

Let’s consider each of these briefly.

The Spurs are Old

Tim Duncan is 35, and because of his postseason success, has played more games than most 35 year olds. If the Spurs expect to keep Tim Duncan healthy, how many minutes a game can he play next season? 26? Assume a dip in production and minutes from Duncan, and remember that Antonio McDyess is retiring. The Spurs will have plenty of frontcourt minutes available, and they’ll need good production from whomever supplies those minutes.

Manu Ginobili turns 34 in July. When was the last time he entered a postseason healthy?

Mediocre Defensive Team

Tim Duncan was San Antonio’s best defensive player this season. On his efforts alone, Duncan kept the Spurs from becoming a below average defensive team. George Hill had moments of defensive brilliance, but because of the Spurs’ lack of reliable small forwards, is too often expected to defend out of position. Tiago Splitter looks like a promising defensive player, and there is no reason to doubt the Spurs will improve by giving him consistent minutes.

Otherwise, the Spurs don’t have any player one would consider a defensive specialist. Moreover, Richard Jefferson is two-years into the Spurs’ system and still looks lost. Speaking plainly, Jefferson has been a bust on both sides of the ball. Jefferson turns 31 this summer. He is who he is as a basketball player. He won’t get any better.

The Jefferson problem is further exacerbated by the Spurs best offensive squads often featuring three-guard sets. Gary Neal is shooter and gives effort on defense, but he simply can’t be expected to guard players like Shane Battier.

The Spurs’ wing rotation is heavy on quality shooting guards and light on capable, defensive-minded small forwards. The Spurs have given themselves a punchers chance with James Anderson, Danny Green and Da’Sean Butler, but they may need to bring another body into camp to have a realistic chance of upgrading the position.

Finally, the Spurs’ efforts are greatly hindered by featuring two defensive liabilities in the interior, Matt Bonner and DeJuan Blair. Again, both players should receive applause for their effort. But effort alone is not enough to make DeJuan Blair taller or transform Matt Bonner into a capable post defender.

That sounds harsh. I like both players. And, I think, Bonner gave a commendable effort against the Grizzlies — does anyone doubt that he played hard? But Bonner has already hit his ceiling. He’s as good as he’s ever going to be. The Spurs need to look at alternatives.

The Youngsters

The Spurs’ best players are old, but the majority of their rotation is relatively young, especially considering the retirement of McDyess. Nevertheless, the Spurs do not have a single youngster who is on an All-Star trajectory. George Hill, Tiago Splitter, Gary Neal, James Anderson, and DeJuan Blair are candidates for career rotation players, but none of them will become All-Stars.

Current contenders go three and four All-Stars deep. The Spurs, rightly understood, go about 2.5 All-Stars deep. And, sadly, it’s debatable whether Tim Duncan will see another All-Star game.

I’m not suggesting the Spurs break up their core. But I am suggesting the Spurs’ central talent base is less than that of their peers.

Payroll and Market

It’s difficult to project how well the Spurs have managed their salary cap without knowing the particulars of the next CBA. In general, the Spur have done well. Duncan’s massive contract expires next summer. Jefferson, Ginobili, and Parker have manageable contracts. The Spurs won’t be able to acquire a game-changer on the free agent market this summer, but they’re not 5 years away either.

But this is a moot point.

When was the last time the Spurs landed a huge free agent (excluding Jackie Butler)?

San Antonio built the foundation of their championship teams through the draft — David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker. They’ve filled in the cracks through free agency.

This leads me to believe San Antonio’s most pressing challenge is not personnel or payroll, it’s their market. No one doubts the Spurs’ ability to find great role players, whether the next Bruce Bowen or Gary Neal. But can they find another All-Star late in the draft?

The allure of playing in San Antonio has never been the city itself. Rather, it’s always been the opportunity to play with Tim Duncan. The Spurs can no longer play that card.

And that allure, it should be said, was most attractive to aging vets. Guys like Robert Horry who wanted a chance at a ring. But now that the Spurs’ core is older than the aging vets they used to attract, the Spurs need to flip the script—San Antonio needs to attract free agents who are in their mid to late 20s, not their early to mid 30s.

In short, the Spurs’ front office needs to get lucky and creative between now and next postseason. I don’t think the front office has ever faced such a challenging offseason. San Antonio’s recovery strategy must change on a number of fundamental levels. The Spurs’ front office is, perhaps, the best in American sports. But it’s still a hard row to hoe.

  • Titletown990308507d

    And what if Splitter becomes a 70% free throw shooter? You know he’s gonna draw tons of fouls next season where ever he is. He’s worth 15 points in 30 minutes next season. I reconsider and try to get Nene like Nima K suggested. Having those two would improve your front court overnight that’s if Bonner and Blair aren’t around to take any of those minutes.

  • Titletown990308507d

    And what if Splitter becomes a 70% free throw shooter? You know he’s gonna draw tons of fouls next season where ever he is. He’s worth 15 points in 30 minutes next season. I reconsider and try to get Nene like Nima K suggested. Having those two would improve your front court overnight that’s if Bonner and Blair aren’t around to take any of those minutes.

  • DorieStreet

    First of all thanks for the video links.

  • DorieStreet

    First of all thanks for the video links.

  • Titletown990308507d

    Also want to add going after Nene means giving a team players that can be productive in their system and in our conference. I’d hate to see Hill and Blair four times out of the year. Like Nene but whoever gets moved from our side I’d like to see them go to the east.

  • Titletown990308507d

    Also want to add going after Nene means giving a team players that can be productive in their system and in our conference. I’d hate to see Hill and Blair four times out of the year. Like Nene but whoever gets moved from our side I’d like to see them go to the east.

  • Titletown990308507d

    No quit playing him at center and develop him into a small forward wing. I hated that he took big minutes from bigs all season long. I wish he had an outside shot that was money somewhere on the court like Timmy has at the top of the key. If Blair had that he could play the whole game. I like his rebounding skills and I always said if he had that stroke he’s gold. I’d keep him then.

  • Titletown990308507d

    Man that’s never gonna die. He’s a distant memory. And just to think I thought Pop was going to do the same with Tiago. A distant memory. By the way we didn’t pass on him. Too much buy out to bring him over. The ownership weren’t as risky with their money back then as they are now. “What ever it takes” seems to be the ownerships slogan a year ago. Hopefully it still is. Reach deep ownership pleeease!

  • DorieStreet

    Promising. I know it’s only drills and I’m no coach but he moves well. So projecting to October 2013-14, Splitter is 3 months shy of his 29th birthday w/ (hopefully) 2 years NBA experience. Read a little about Richards at DraftExpress–so he just turned 20–listed as 6-10 1/2 in stocking feet & 230 (ur right will need 30lbs more )/will be 22 1/2 the 2013-14 season start.
    So he either plays for UK /Great Britain team this summer if CBA talks fall through or goes to Vegas, then to Toros.
    Could be the start of something….

  • DorieStreet

    Maybe this time the Euro/Intl bigman draft & stash finally pays off: one guy in during the last days of Duncan and another young one in training to pair with him 2 years hence (and who knows who comes along in the draft/trade/FA).
    2012 is London Olympics; home team gets in automatically/we see Richards gets more game experience vs world’s best.

  • Anonymous

    He’s a free agent and Memphis have already commited money to Gay, Allen, Randolph, Conley.. etc in the last year and they’ll be looking to give money to Gasol as well. His wife lives in Houston as well so you never no.

  • DorieStreet

    Can’t just look at drafting as luck/scouts watching video/beating the bushes (did Ferry, then Presti take a couple of the best guys on the way to Cavs & Sonics/Thunder? { but Ferry is back} ).
    For example, the Pacers’ Larry George looked pretty good vs Bulls in playoffs, but I never heard /saw him before (but I’m no hoops junkie).

  • DorieStreet

    Speaking of Dallas===could it be a rematch of 2006 finals- Heat vs. Mavs?

  • DorieStreet

    Have Splitter; fans looking at Varejao, now want Nene/ going to become ‘Brasil Espuelas’ (I apologize if translation is wrong). Nene will be 29 come September but the dude has had a whole lot of injuries. Denver looks like they got something going so I don’t see them not anteing up the $ (especially since Martin is long in the tooth). How about snagging one of the ex-Tarheel PGs (is their defense ok?).

  • Len

    First off guys, I said it was “the foundation” for a trade, not the final trade. Maybe we’re talking about Asik, Brewer, Gibson & Bulls 1st rounder? I’d do that trade.

    Secondly, it’s a trade that would fill needs. Interior defense & Perimeter defense would be addressed and anybody who watched the 2011 Spurs knew that they needed both of those in a big way. We have a surplus of 2 guards.

    This is a trade of what we have a surplus of to get what the team needs, common sense stuff.

    I know that Manu is an absolute star and would be missed terribly but trading stars that are 34 years old is what you do when you need to rebuild.

  • Len

    No, but Brewer and two young defensive bigs are. Who are you expecting for basically a 2 yr rental of Manu? Rose or Noah? C’mon man, think big picture here.

  • Colin Rigney

    “I think Blair has the skill set to develope into a wing player.”

    What have you been watching?

  • Trooperjoe73

    Recipe for success(my 2 cents):
    1. Get rid of Jefferson/Bonner at all costs. AT ALL COSTS!!!
    2. Trade TP-He’s the only asset that is All-Star quality and in his prime.
    3. Get BIG-Nene!
    4. Get BIG-IF Orlando is looking-Trade Parker/Blair/Anderson for Howard!
    5. Splitter must start!
    6. Bring the British kid, ready or not!
    7. Keep Novak/Neal to fill 3 point Assassin/Guard-3Pt Assassin!
    8. Anderson must start.
    9. Hill must start.
    10. Manu as the 6th man-don’t start him and save for the post season!

    Play for a top 4 Seed in the playoffs! One for Tim’s thumb!!

  • TrooperJoe73

    Oden? You kidding me?! Not trying to be argumentative, but he gets injured watching sports in 3D. I would restructure Duncan’s contract, get rid of Jefferson/Bonner, Trade TParker/Anderson/Blair for Howard of hte Magic, sign Nene, and bring the tall British kid over, now!

  • Sam

    Does anyone think the Spurs have a realistic chance at Roy Hibbert, Nene, or Greg Oden? I’m curious because either of them could really help us in the future.

  • TD BestEVER

    It’s funny how people who basically contributed to this playoff debacle are now back trying to call the few of us who actually had relevant insight on what was to come “NAMES” again……..Bandwagon Fan, or what have you…….If you all had listened this could have been avoided……….. I have said it before and will say it again…….Uninformed fans are just as big of a problem as our Scared FO……..

  • Sam

    If we get him we would have two players who’ve taken pictures of their junk….Go Spurs?

  • TD BestEVER

    As far as moves……Is DICE gone a certainty……….is POP gonna FORCE him out like Bowen………..Even if he does we are close to the Lux Tax for next season as it is……. As far as players that we can move, you have to look at what they make and what they can bring………

    Bonner – 3.5mil – UNMOVABLE
    RJ – 9mil – Hard to move-will have to take on either more money, or add a pick/prospect in there to move him….
    TP – 12.5mil – BEST TRADE PIECE – Should be packaged with RJ or Bonner to move those contracts
    Splitter – 3.5mil – Because of his HYPE coming into the league he has value – FO should explore
    Neo – 1.5mil – Needs to go – cheaper replacement in Green already in roster at 1/3 the $
    Blair – 1mil – has value because of how he played this year – FO should see what he can bring back
    Neal – too CHEAP – kinda like Blair – FO should still explore
    Hill – 1.5mil – barring a miracle – Hill needs to be moved – Great bonus piece to land a Granger type player……..

  • Pablo

    LAST THREE YEAR AVERAGE for potential Timmy frontcourt mates.

    Player Age Height Weight GP Minutes FG % Rebounds Blocks Points
    Nene Hilario 28 6′ 11″ 250 78 32.2 0.602 7.7 1.1 14.3
    Chris Kaman 29 7′ 0″ 265 46 30.1 0.496 8.0 1.4 14.3
    DeAndre Jordan 22 6’11” 265 68 18.8 0.641 5.6 1.3 5.4
    Marc Gasol 26 7’1″ 265 77 32.8 0.546 7.9 1.5 12.7
    Greg Oden* 23 7’0″ 285 NA 22.1 0.577 7.3 1.4 9.4
    Sam Dalembert 29 6’11” 250 81 25.0 0.505 8.7 1.7 7.5
    Tim Duncan 76 31.1 NA 9.9 1.7 16.9
    Timmy’s Frontcourt Mate 79 20.1 NA 6.0 0.6 6.1

    Duncan needs help!!! just look at the rebounds of players getting center minutes (Kurt Thomas, McDyess, and Blair over last three years). that is why our defense has been so bad.

    i would gladly take any of the listed players. Greg Oden and DeAndre Jordan are highly unlikely. Nene and Gasol are unlikely, but would be willing to overpay to get either of them. I would settle for Dalembert even though he provides no offense. others…. Yao Ming, Tyson Chandler, Spencer Hawes, or Joel Pryzbilla?

    i know Splitter will play more next season, but we still need another big man. a rotation of Duncan, Splitter, Blair and your pick of Kaman-Gasol-Nene-Dalembert would be much improved and solve a lot of problems. however any of those centers would cost approximately $10 million a year. how we finance that, who knows. RJ isn’t getting touched, don’t know why front office loves Bonner (if he is that desired as a stretch 4 then trade him, we have Steve Novak to play his role), and who knows what Timmy is thinking about opting out.

  • Justin

    I absolutely agree with the idea of getting Iggy, but that’s a HUGE price to pay. If we offered that deal, Philly would jump on that 8 days a week. It’s a bit too lopsided, but I think we could get him for RJ, Blair, and this years 1st and 2nd round draft choices. Still a big price to pay, but at least we can keep some youth.

  • Justin

    I’ve never fully understood the idea of the Spurs absolutely having to space the floor with the 4 spot. Robinson (even in his later years) wasn’t a floor spacer. Nesterovic (I’m sure I spelled his name wrong but don’t care) and Oberto weren’t floor spacers. Neither Gasol nor Bynum space the floor. Gasol (the younger) nor Randolph really stretch the floor (at least on a consistent basis). Perkins and Ibaka absolutely can’t create great spacing. The list goes on. IMO, too many people have bought into the notion that the Spurs MUST have a stretch 4 to space the floor. It just doesn’t have to be that way.

  • Hunter

    Here a new Idea. Try to trade richard jefferson and our first rounder for a higher first round pick. I know maybe a team such as the rockets or maybe the Jazz. The Jazz have a huge need at small forward and i think they would make such a trade.

    We could possibly include Bonner in that trade or ship him off for a late second rounder if needed.

    Worst comes to worst we include Blair in one of these trades. I think Blair is over rated and we could very well move him with either of those guys.

    Last but most important, If we can do these things and duncan opts out of is contract that gives us a reasonable budget to spend this summer. If we use it wisely and draft well (Tyler Zeller from North Carolina) You could see us having a brighter future

  • Dinmark

    I agree with all your ideas.They need to have youngster that can defend post players.hate to say it but timmy is old and he should retire.Its time to make some trades because they can’t get any future players in the next draft.Spurs always like to gamble on 2nd & 3rd round draft pick.They gotta stop dreaming if Spurs wants their market goes up they have to make a trade.

  • DorieStreet

    Hibbert and Nene–no. Pacers just returned to playoffs–starting five and subs look promising for more success. Indy might let Josh McRoberts or Solomon Jones go because of emerging Paul George ( I like him)–both are 6-10 but Solomon not getting a lot of playing time in his 5 years as a pro (11min/g).
    Is McRoberts someone that still has upside?
    I’ve read in a few places this past season that financially for the Blazers and mentally for Greg Oden a fresh start in a new place is in order. But is his career over before it really starts because of his fraglity?

  • DorieStreet

    …like Granger’s backup–Paul George?

  • TD BestEVER

    Ya I have seen George play a few games……He is nice……..I don’t think Indiana will trade him though…………They are trying to get younger and rebuild………..

  • Syd

    I say all the following working on the (rose-colored) assumption that there will be a 2011-12 season.

    If I could find my comment from this time last year, I’d cut & paste it, but since I can’t…the Spurs’ two primary problems at the end of the season are same as they were at the beginning of the season..:

    1) A lack of QUALITY frontcourt depth, especially defensively, and

    2) The absence of a solid longish defensive wing to guard the top big guards/forwards (Nowitzki, Durant, Lebron, Kobe, Carmelo, Pierce) and to a lesser extent, guys like Odom, Joe Johnson, Granger and Gay.

    If it was as easy as plugging in Corey Brewer and Nene, we’d be set- back to contender status today. But since one of those guys is now a Maverick and the other will command serious $$ as a free agent, they’ll have to look elsewhere to plug the gap.

    Lots of guys- let’s call them the “glass half full” gang, are sure to improve: Hill is a great 6th man who deserves 30+ minutes and will likely get them as a means to keep Manu healthy. Splitter has shown that given solid minutes he can really contribute. Neal is a huge bonus. James Anderson has promise if healthy and even Da’Sean Butler could be interesting as a burly wing player.

    But other guys, say the “glass half empty” brigade have shown what their ceiling is: Blair is a great situational option but not an NBA starter, Bonner can do one thing very well and that’s it. Jefferson remains an enigma and as long as we have him, we should probably just accept that he’ll remain so.

    Tony remains an elite PG, despite his mediocre Memphis series. He is a top 7 point guard and it’s unlikely we can get value in any trade.
    Manu, when healthy (was there ever a bigger caveat?) is still a difference maker.
    Tim can probably repeat this year’s stats one more time, given proper rest.

    Green, Novak and Quinn are marginal talents, if they stick around.

    McDyess is bye-bye.

    But that, my friends, is not a championship roster. Unless Ryan Richards swoops in and turns into Blake Griffin, we are not there.

    However, if we could plug in a poor man’s Corey Brewer to split time with Jefferson (help me out with some available names here) and legitimately “big” big men who can play mean, physical defense and block a shot or two (again, names please?), I think we could sustain our window a year or so.

    As I make these suggestions, I’m not talking about the likes of Raja Bell or Ime Udoka at the wing or Theo Ratliff or Marcus Haislip up front. I mean REAL contributors. But they need not be well-rounded players.

    I’m talking specific skill sets here. We have enough offense on the wing. Just give me a stopper who can play 12-18 minutes (including the last 2 minutes of the game) against the other team’s star wing. Give me a mean, big-bodied defender (say 6-11, 250), who can pound with Bynum and Randolph and Perkins and Noah and Aldridge and Howard for 15 minutes. He need not be able to score much. It’d be nice if he could secure defensive boards. Then give me another big guy (say, 6-11, 240 with loooong arms) who can defend and alter a few shots. He need not be able to rebound or score, just keep a guy in front of him and make opponents alter shots for the 8-12 minutes he’s on the floor. Those players can be mixed and matched appropriately with Tim and Splitter, who each have both offensive and defensive skills.

    If we look for specific skill sets, perhaps we can get some guys cheaper than if we pursue someone like Nene, who has multiple skills but, even if we could get him, prevents us from getting anyone else.

    Look, we’re going to blowing this team up to some degree in either one or two years, depending on if Tim’s reworks his contract. But when Manu’s contract expires after 2012-13, there will be some serious maneuvering.

    But until then, this is the squad we have. Our chances to play for anything resembling a title depend on the “glass half full” gang continuing to improve, the big three staying healthy and whoever we add. Let’s add guys that address our weaknesses to short-term contracts.

    So who can we add? If I understand correctly, we’ll have the 5.2 mill Dyess forgoes if he retires. If Timmy restructures his 20 mill deal to take, say, 15 mill for the next two seasons, that’s leaves us with somewhere between 5-10 mill to work with, right? Let’s split the difference at 7.5 million.

    What 3 guys (1 wing, 2 posts) can we get for that amount of money?

  • Rob

    I’m so glad Mr. Relevant chimed in. It all makes perfect since now.

    Fans now are also a a big problem to the team losing in the playoffs.

  • Edpaul

    i think duncan will give as some money, to give his needed big man so that we can get our 5th ring!

  • grego

    West was no longer the GM. Ford was. Grizz also spent a lot of money on Gay. Arguably the Conley deal was a good one they made in hindsight.

  • Kirbiejefferson

    manu and timmy are getting older…coach popovich must aware of that and also the management of spurs..they need a new players like tayshun prince.who are a better defender..a big man like dwight howard.who also can dominate inside.

  • Bry

    @ Title. Austinspur may not have the best grammar, but he’s right as rain. You’re crazy. Blair is not “trade bait”. He’s a second round draft pick with no ACLs making just under a million. He is a valuable rotation player that gets paid next to nothing. I cannot think of a scenario where the Spurs would get someone MORE useful to the team by trading Blair. I’m already annoyed with all the people thinking we’d get some talent back for Bonner’s 3 million/year contract, and now you think we will for Blair? Crazy.

  • Tyrone Jenkins

    I like DeJuan Blair. But, he should be traded. I like Tiago Splitter, But, he is a backup center. I’m not all that fond of Richard Jefferson. He’s a good player (better than he’s shown the Spurs) in a different system.

    Trade Blair or Splitter and RJ for Dwight Howard. Throw in Gary Neal if need be.

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  • Jimjule

    The Spurs have a possible all star in the wings in Ryan Richards. He’s young, but he’s big, 6’11” and handles the ball like a guard. Bringing him up next season may be early, he’s very young, but he blew a lot of peoples minds with his summer showing. The scribes may have forgotten him, but not Pop and R.C. Bringing him onto the squad, may be earlier than planned, but he will get enought time to improve. Jimjule

  • Joe16vind

     you can’t be serious
    everyone is offering what the spurs should be doing without offering whom to receive in return!

    So you bust up the big 3 trade out Tim rrid the Spurs of Manu and trade Parker- ok so whom are you getting in return?

    Nene! Curry! Howard! (who wanst to go to LA to be actor?) a washed up battier! Diap- what has he ever done?

    all these choices which you fail to mention are recycled retreads- guys that have been round the league a few times-

    the Spurs have always rebuilt on the fly and I expect this summer will be no different.

    If all these changes you are advocating for go into effect, what will the Spurs look like? The cavs or the Knicks?

  • Joe16vind

     you can’t be serious
    everyone is offering what the spurs should be doing without offering whom to receive in return!

    So you bust up the big 3 trade out Tim rrid the Spurs of Manu and trade Parker- ok so whom are you getting in return?

    Nene! Curry! Howard! (who wanst to go to LA to be actor?) a washed up battier! Diap- what has he ever done?

    all these choices which you fail to mention are recycled retreads- guys that have been round the league a few times-

    the Spurs have always rebuilt on the fly and I expect this summer will be no different.

    If all these changes you are advocating for go into effect, what will the Spurs look like? The cavs or the Knicks?

  • Bob

    Your right about Nene. The reason Denver hasn’t locked him up with an extension is probably because of his injury history.