The offseason: challenges, money, and market

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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.

  • Anonymous

    Again, the game 1 crunch. Our squad was so devistated, they couldn’t get that one back in 3 chances on the road (0-5 at FedExForum for 2010-11 regular/post seasons. Spurs are 2-11 on the road during the last 3 playoffs.
    ESPN never showed any love for us but they analyzed what the Spurs were and determined at the start of the season (1) the team’s 3 best players (Core 3) were slowing down due to past injuries -Manu & Tony- and age-Tim; (2) the defense was inferior to past team’s efforts; (3) squad had no height and athleticism down low (besides Tim & McDyess) to go far in the playoffs. Most of the ESPN people never came off that judgement even while the Spurs were racking up wns during the historic season.

    Memphis got to .500 in late January and went 22-12 the rest of the way to finish the season–THEY GOT BETTER– and are peaking in the playoffs (Spurs went 21-13 after starting 40-8). A young team with good individual skills and team concept on the defensive perimeter + 2 big guys with some offensive skills that can handle Tim & McDyess on both ends because they are younger= 1st round exit for Spurs despite the HCA and better regular season.

    But you state the only 3 things need to change–Tiago becomes what Tim used to be; jettison RJ (for who?) and cut Bonner’s minutes.

  • Peter

    Good point, Tim. If we’re going to have an over-paid veteran, might as well have one that will play more than 10 minutes!

    I wonder if we need to go after another defensive-only big man, though, since we already have Splitter. Kenyon Martin might be a good compromise, if he’s available–good defender, and a decent pick-and-pop game.

  • Anonymous

    And what has A. I. accomplished since he left Philly? They got to the Finals with him–but that was over a decade ago. They decided to go in another direction. It took the FO awhile (they did make the playoffs in 2005 or 2006 I think) but a few coaches and many players later it looks promising. Everyone but the Lakers and their fans said the trade was garbarge, but the GM(s) worked it and –vola!!! —3 years and 3 months later (trade was in January 2008) the Grizzlies are in the 2nd round of the playoffs with a bright future (immediate and long-range)

  • Anonymous

    And what has A. I. accomplished since he left Philly? They got to the Finals with him–but that was over a decade ago. They decided to go in another direction. It took the FO awhile (they did make the playoffs in 2005 or 2006 I think) but a few coaches and many players later it looks promising. Everyone but the Lakers and their fans said the trade was garbarge, but the GM(s) worked it and –vola!!! —3 years and 3 months later (trade was in January 2008)

    At Hobson13–ok, but someone took the lemons and worked hard and got lemonade. And it took 3 years. They’re come out of their ‘bottom-feeders’ club and look to have a promising playoff future.

  • DorieStreet

    There are some fans that wouldn’t mind that–keeping the Core 3 together until each one’s contract expires (and they retire as a Spur) while simultaneously building a new team.

  • James

    We’re fucked.

  • Futureman

    The problem with adding more size to the front court is that the splitter, blair and duncan aren’t consistent shooters from mid-range (though I think Duncan should look to pick-n-pop more often because his shot on some nights can be an effective weapon). Obviously spacing is a key element to the spurs offense especially as they become more and more perimeter orientated (hence why pop loves bonner and why situationally he can be so effective). The spurs shouldn’t look to trade blair or splitter because their production far out weighs the cost of their contracts. They could both be the best value bigs in the league in that sense.

    So the question becomes is there a trade, free agent or even draft pick out there that can simultaneously provide both solid defense and solid mid-range shooting to compliment the skills of duncan, blair and splitter.

    From my quick glance at the landscape maybe someone like Jason Thompson could be a decent pickup. He ticks a lot of boxes (not all) but has decent size (6’11) and has range out to 16ft and should be able to compliment our other bigs. I suppose he is sort of a poor mans version of Lamarcus Aldridge so obviously signing him wouldn’t be a home-run but maybe filling one of the spurs cracks.

  • Sam

    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=3d765xo

    This would be nearly impossible and a couple of future draft picks of the spurs can be tossed around. Very good deal for the Spurs. The Cavs get a legitimate small foward to pair with Kyrie Irving who they will most likely draft and they get a contract that goes off their books since Mcdyess is retiring. Also J.J. Hickson gets to improve more since his minutes will rise. For the Suns they get a back up pg who’s very similar to Aaron Brooks who becomes a free agent this year. They also get good young players in Eyenga and Blair (Especially Blair). Yes I know I’m obviously making the deal sound good for Phoenix and Cleveland when it’s not really but I’m biased.

  • Colin Rigney

    “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.”

    This goes ditto for Blair unless he finds an offensive game greater than 5′ from the basket.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4UKVFK3K5O4DHFRT5W2I4JIG3I Justin

    If we really wanted to roll the dice, we could try a trade involving RJ, one of our young guys ( Blair, HIll, Anderson, or Neal) plus this years 1st and 2nd round picks to Philly for Andre Igoudala. Iggy is not a great scorer, but he is a lockdown, athletic young defender who can play the SF position. There’s no question that AI is a bit overpaid, but so is RJ. Philly might do this deal considering they would get good young talent (a young guy plus a few picks) AND they would actually reduce their salary cap situation in the long term. Spurs could look at this deal because it keeps the Big 3 (can we still say that after this year’s playoff run) intact and addresses three of our biggest needs, a legit 3, a second young allstar, and an elite perimeter defender.

    I also wish the Spurs would do a deal that involves Jason Thompson of the Kings, but with Ryan Richards possibly coming over, the front court may be a bit crowded. Anyway around it, we have a long summer to sling around trade banter.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4UKVFK3K5O4DHFRT5W2I4JIG3I Justin

    Dorrie, I agree that Memphis did a hell of a job. I’m not hating on the organization, but I am hating on their former GM,Jerry West, who signed that *wink*wink* deal with LA. Everyone at the time knew that was an inside job. The one thing Memphis did, IMO, that put them over the top was to take huge risks. They were able to make smart draft choices with mediocre draft positions and they traded a handful of contracts for Randolph who was a full fledged member of the Jailblazers and an NBA pariah up until 6 weeks ago. Now Z-Bo looks like the second coming of TD and has Memphis where they are. The Grizz actually lay out a good blueprint for the Spurs if we are to regain relevance.

  • Easy B

    The team is a bit hamstrung next year. I think the FO might have to admit that RJ isn’t the best option going forward, and it might take until the end of the following season to move him, but they should probably start looking at that option. Its hard not to get all knee-jerk after the season ends abruptly, but this is the business of sports – and in order to win again, tough decisions need to be made. Alot of people are calling for Timmy to redo his contract – first of all, that would be sending the wrong message to the whole league of players, and secondly, if we want to have cap room mid-way through the decade, it would be unwise to mortgage that time for a long-shot chance right now.
    I don’t mind if the team decides to rebuild….I can see the fun in watching a young squad grow, but I’m not too excited with the current squad coming up with a better result next year, given the number of young and talented squads starting to hit their playoff stride.
    The most demoralizing aspect of the Memphis series was watching Gasol put back Randolph’s misses….that continually broke our back the entire series, and given the fact Z-bo shot the lights out, no wonder we were always chasing them. We need to rebuild our interior. We don’t necessarily need to blow up the perimeter, but a wing defender is a must for next year if we are to compete. RJ needs a pass first point guard, and probably a more dominant post up big to get his offense back….and that doesn’t appear to be on the horizon at the spurs.
    Maybe give up RJ and any combination of Blair, Anderson, Neal in order to re-tool the roster. I love Neal, and Blair and Anderson, but sometimes you gotta lose before you can win. The alternate is to shop Parker for a pure point and a young big, but choices would surely be limited, and results even less certain.

  • JFMNALLY

    Ive’ been reading about what the SPURS should do this off-’season on multiple web sites. These posts by far outweigh anything I have read over the last couple of days! Thanks for the incite. I will come here for future questions,

  • Colin Rigney

    I agree for the most part. Still think that Blair won’t improve in the skill level department over the course of his career unless he expands his offensive game. Blair’s positives ARE the intangibles he brings. The youth argument against his game isn’t very strong.

    How many times do we hear, “but he is young,” and attribute a player’s mistakes to that. More than likely he will still be committing the same mistakes in the future (maybe less frequent) but overall he will be no more than a role player if he doesn’t learn how to CONSISTENTLY finish against bigger opponents and find some semblance of a jumper.

  • Pablo

    okay, so as much as it hurts to say, Duncan is no longer the reliable, go-to, build a franchise around, cornerstone. unfortunately it happens to all the greats. Duncan has been The Big Fundamental who has carried teams into the playoffs year after year. to look at it from a different perspective, we Spurs fans have been VERY FORTUNATE. we have had two great superstars (and numerous other talents and role players), who have also been great role models, that have made the Spurs a contender year after year.

    in reality, other than the Lakers, NO OTHER team in the NBA has contended for championships since the 1980′s like the Spurs (and Lakers). every other team that has won and contended for a championship: Celtics, Rockets, Bulls, and Pistons have had down years in between their championship runs. the Spurs have competed every single year since the 80′s until now. why? because we’ve had a franchise player- Robinson then Duncan.

    so the only hope going forward is to go get a franchise player, unlikely because we don’t have high draft picks or can attract players like Dwight Howard to San Antonio, or we try to add a solid to great player to our current roster. we owe it to Duncan, Parker and Ginobili to attempt to compete until their contracts run out.

    i don’t know if what we add in the offseason will suffice, but Spurs front office needs to continue to attempt to bring in pieces. i don’t have the answers, but i have some suggestions. what we need to remember is what made us so competitive all those years: defense! Unfortunately that was because it all revolved around Duncan. he just can’t do it alone, he needs someone to take the burden down low, just as Parker and Ginobili did with the offense.

    first off, Duncan and Ginobili will retire as Spurs… and Parker too. i mention Parker later because he’s brought up as only trade chip, but the guy signed for less and showed he is committed to this team. throw in Neal, Hill, Jefferson, Splitter, Blair and James Anderson around them. so where do we get that big man?

    people have mentioned Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, and Nene. i’ll throw in Greg Oden and Chris Kaman to the list. to sign any of those would require Duncan taking less money (Note: Kaman would have to be traded for, but if D. Jordan signs big contract from another team, Clippers may be looking to trade him).

    and even if we get one of those centers, it wouldn’t mean we would be favorites. i think Duncan, NEWLY ACQUIRED CENTER, Splitter, Blair, Jefferson, Green, Anderson, Ginobili, Hill, Neal, Parker, and rest of roster would be better than this year’s squad, but even then there are no guarantees. as Spurs fans we’ve been spoiled with winning. i am not saying i don’t want to get rings 5 and 6 and so on, but there are only three teams in the NBA that have won more championships than the Spurs- Lakers, Celtics and Bulls. we have been fortunate. just as the
    Jazz with Malone and Stockton,
    Mavs with Dirk,
    Suns with Kevin Johnson or Nash,
    Pacers with Reggie,
    Knicks with Ewing, and
    many more teams with great players who never won.

    thank you Spurs.

    but let’s go get #5 and 6 for Duncan.

  • Sam

    This is intriguing… Although I feel as if the spurs are giving up too much. Philadelphia doesn’t see Andre Iguodala as part of their future. They want Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams, and Evan Turner to lead the way. I think RJ and Bonner (Salaries would match only with him) and a pick (1st or 2nd) would do it.Iguodala is 3 years younger than RJ and is more athletic and a better defender. He’s an inch shorter than RJ but I think his athleticism makes up for it so I think he could play the SF position. He also has great court vision, having averaged 6.3 assists. He’s a great all around player. Philadelphia misused him as a SG until Doug Collins came and he became a SF and Philadelphia’s saw the results but still would have his name swirling around in trade rumors. I think he feels under appreciated in philly and he doesn’t seem very happy there. We also get rid of two players who just couldn’t fit into our system.

  • Bhaskar Anoop

    AAnother year, another disappointment. Spurs, are no longer the elite team, one assumed them to be. All season, fans have been crying hoarse on lack of size. A few 48 moh staffers were writing paens on the sagacity of the FO to not to a deal and not compete on size. Z-Bo’s bullying in the post season should put a stop to such thoughts. A team built on speed and shoooting, has shown in the post season, ask the Suns, that the path post the 82 games is short and steep – downwards.

    Tayshuan prince, James Posey, Jason thompson, Vaajaeo are all pieces which could make the Spurs better. Is Coach Pop’s ego / stubborness which will come in the way to rebuild the Spurs? after all why blow a squad which won 61 games in the regular season. This arguement overlooks the dismal performance in th post season for 3 years in a row. Moreover, if the “real” season starts after 82 games, then the spurs record is dismal, reason enough for large scale changes.

    Probably not so, for a coach whose philosophy borders on the 100th or the 200th blow to pound the rock, 3 post season failures may not be long enough..

  • http://spursworld.wordpress.com Robby Lim

    Tim,

    The Spurs’ return to relevance will be harder this offseason. Again, it presents a great challenge to the FO to do some changes. Regarding payroll, I believe Tim Duncan has an ETO next season http://spursworld.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/should-duncan-eto/ should he use it to help the team?

    That’s only a part of it, the Spurs should add more size and depth at the wing position particularly those who can defend.

  • Bruno

    Biggest mistakes:
    1)Lineup change
    2)Manu playing last game of regular season
    3) Losing game 1( Manu not playing game 1)
    4) Not developing Splitter(too much Bonner)

    If Spurs had won the game 1, Grizziles would be done in 4 or 5 games.

    Everything went wrong in this series. Spurs played bad all games.

  • Lvmainman

    Spurs need to get a young all-star player. I would try to get Chris Paul and Emeka Okafor for Tony Parker, Richard Jefferson, and Dejuan Blair and/or Matt Bonner and/or George Hill (Hornets might insist on Splitter).

    Chris Paul will not be a Hornet next yr, just like Carmelo Anthony isn’t a Nugget.

    Ex-spur coach Monty Williams and the owner David Stern might approve the deal depending on what other teams offer.

    Then in 2012, try to get Chris Paul to resign and entice free agent Dwight Howard to come play with Ginobili and Duncan in their last yr as Spurs before they retire. Make a 2012 plan like the Heat did for 2010, and have a backup plan like the Bulls did for 2010.

    Spurs as constructed can’t compete for a championship. Make playoffs, yes. Championship, no.

  • Titletown99030507d

    I think that’s all your gonna get from Blair. I would use him as trade bait in a package to unload RJ to get a serious wing palyer (SF)

  • Titletown99030507d

    I would move Hill and Blair and Keep Neal and Splitter.

  • Titletown99030507d

    The Brazilian twin towers. Tim has Varejao and splitter played together on the Brazilian team? And do they work well together?

  • Titletown99030507d

    Get rid of Blair that would help the trade along.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Lot of euros flop. But they’re good at it.

  • Titletown99030507d

    They have to be crazy not to take RJ and Blair for Varejao

  • Titletown99030507d

    That solves the wing man problem and the big problem. Nice. If the numbers are good then Ok Pop and RC pull the trigger.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Your comment factually proves that Blair isn’t everything people make him out to be. It’s time to get more than hustle out of him.

  • Titletown99030507d

    I agree I would tank the next season and hope for the best lottery pick and play the crap out of the young guys.

  • Titletown99030507d

    How about tanking two seasons in a row. Maybe we’ll get lucky and find two jewels then enjoy 10 more years of winning. Kinda looking at it as a speed bump. 2 damn good player and a damn good free agent to boot come 2012. (Dwight maybe)

  • Titletown99030507d

    The bright side is we’ll know something sooner.

  • Titletown99030507d

    None of the core 3 are getting moved. Let’s get creative without them.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Add the Scola fiasco to it and seems luck had evaded us.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Tiago will never be Tim but he’ll bring 15/10 on a nightly basis playing full time, add defense, hustle and quickness for a big. He’ will be fine next season even better than what you saw. Now the only thing that damn coach needs to play him as such. Full time.

  • Titletown99030507d

    That’s what’s going to happen. Plus we’ll still be competitive while we rebuild on the fly.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Bring in Dwight.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Simply put. But only for a few years.

  • Titletown99030507d

    And you want another 61 game winning season and a first round exit? Not me. That style of play is good for the regular season when teams are just taking their time to get their engines going while we pretend to be the team to be beat by running hard early and getting some wins just to peter out at the end. Play the way that got us 4 championships and thats having a post presence slowing it down and controlling the game and dominating.

  • Hobson13

    I agree that RJ plus essentially 3 young players is a very high price to pay, but I think that is where we are as a team. There’s a price to be paid for trading and then re-signing a guy who just sucks at this point in his career. IMO, the price will be paid by giving up young players (either one currently on the roster or draft picks). I’m really not sure who would be interested in Bonner. He is and always has been a 1 trick pony and that 1 trick disappears every year around late April, but perhaps since his salary is low we can sucker someone.

    If we could get an Iggy type talent, then the Spurs title window would remain wide open provided we had another big (Tiago or someone we traded for).

  • Hobson13

    Agreed. Up 4 points with 66 seconds left in game 1 and we lose. This terrible late-game execution is a nasty habit we developed over the last 3 weeks of the season and it ended up killing us. We were behind the 8 ball from then on out. A game 1 win would have had Memphis looking for the exit. Oh, what could have been…

  • Hobson13

    Absolutely. The 61 wins are now a disgrace since we are only 1 of 4 (I believe) top seeds to lose in the first round to the Grizz. Sure the Grizz are a great team and are MUCH better than the usual 8th (or even 4th) seeded teams. Try telling that to a Mavs or Lakers fan though. Spurs just made history in a bad way. I’d take a playoff juggernaught 55 win team over a regular season highflier any day of the week.

  • Hobson13

    Title, I understand what you are saying, but haven’t we tried to rebuild on the fly for the past 3 years? You can only make so many adjustments around the core before you have to actually change the core.

  • GaryNealwasnotSeanElliott

    Great post…

    I’m a Spurs fan in Canada. Probably the only one of his kind. I’ve always loved the Spurs cause they play crazy fundamental ball and work on basic, but extremely effective and efficient principles. I also obvious love them for the same reason that everyone else does. Character guys from the ownership, the front office, to the coach, players and even you guys the fans.

    I know what I am likely going to say is going to cause you Spurs fans to recommend that Obama find me and assassinate me and dump me in the ocean, but as much as it truly breaks my heart as well, I think the Spurs are realistically done. I do not see how they can challenge for a Western Conference FInals, much less a championship against an increasingly strong and athletic Eastern Conference. Look at Miami, Look at Chicago… They cannot continue to try to run with TD against the Memphises (who didn’t have Rudy Gay… who if used in their current system instead of as THE GUY… would have contributed to their team), Oklahoma City (which will lose to Memphis because of their effort and loss of that chip on their shoulder… they act like they made it… and they haven’t…), LA (who Kobe is still a stud, Pau and Bynum can almost run circles around TD… as long as Bynum doesn’t miss a step going down the stairs… and Lamar who is one still one of the most talented guys in the league).

    This was their last year. Run on sheer guile… more than they ever had before… and more than they ever needed before. TD just doesn’t have it any more. I watched him play and he is good for 15 – 20 in a 40 minute game now. The TD of even last year was capable of at least 2 games a series of 30 points, 15 rebounds. They need him as that kind of threat to open things up. Someone tell me TD can do that now? Tell me he can have one 30-15 game… which won’t happen unless they spoon feed him all day long and he hits all his free-throws (which would detract from the other players).

    I am writing this comment as my first such comment ever on a Spurs post. I am writing with NO SOLUTION or SUGGESTION… and it hurts me. TD is my favorite ball player of all-time. David Robinson is a true hero.

    The Spurs will continue to be my favorite team because of the organization and because of you fans. I love how much heart everyone has for that organization and I look forward to going down to San Antonio to witness and experience all of this, but I recognize that I will be doing that while watching a team that simply will not have the talent to challenge for likely decades to come.

    We were all truly blessed to experience the Duncan/Robinson Era… it stands out as an amazing feat. When else has a small market squad come close to this level of dominance. Detroit is the next closest in the history of the league… and they aren’t even close… they almost did it twice in the last 20 years in terms of dynasties… with their 2nd efforts thwarted by our 2005 spurs.

    Long live TD… the Big Fundamental!

    Jon

  • austenandrews

    We don’t have the assets to rebuild a “core.” We can’t afford a major free agent, Duncan won’t be traded and neither Manu nor Tony would fetch us a dominant player in return. The ugly truth is, without a franchise player we’re no longer rebuilding a championship team. We’re starting from scratch.

    As I see it, we have two choices. We can ride out the Big 3, who despite the media epitaphs still have plenty of fight left with 61 wins. Make some tweaks to bolster the defense and we’re good to go. When Duncan retires in a year or two, we’ll have some real money to spend toward rebuilding and a good team that’s down a big man. Or we can blow up the core and start from scratch now. That will put us in the same position as the first option, only with Duncan’s salary dominating the payroll. We’ll be throwing away a year or two of winning basketball, and for what? It’s not like we’ll win another title because of it. I’m not seeing the urgency here.

  • austinspur

    your crazy

  • Chefbesaw

    I agree completely. but if Timmy pulls a RJ and opts out then resigned for 7mil a year for two years, he will then play a mcdyss roll, and it would give up 14 mil to sign a young allstar, and why not trade blair or Bonner for a high draft pick. bonner is the number one 3pt shooter if the nba, he could be traded for a 12 pick in this years draft.

  • Hobson13

    Austen, I understand your point, but if we are content to have 60 win seasons only to flame out in 6 playoff games then after 17+ years of being a Spurs fan count me out. I refuse to be labeled the new Phoenix Suns. We can blame the Bonner’s and Blair’s of the world all we want to, but we have to realize the problem is not with the role players. They are playing their part. The problem is with the “stars” who are either too old, too inconsistent, or too injured to get us to the second round. The ONLY way we move forward is to trade for a younger allstar caliber player. Perhaps we can trade RJ and some young pieces to accomplish this, but if this doesn’t work, then we look to trade #9.

  • DorieStreet

    I’m for keeping him, too. We waited a long time for him to come over–let’s get a summer league stint and perhaps some pre-training camp work (barring the CBA situation) and have Splitter ready to roll opening night 2011.
    Title–you’ve kept up with Ryan Richards’ play; will he be able to contribute next season if he goes throught the same process?

  • Chris

    Ha, ha! Tiago will never be a 15/10 guy. 10/10 perhaps.

  • manufan

    I think that Parker & Jefferson package can bring us something good in return. It will also take +20 mill of the books. None of them plays good enough defence. Parker gets torched by any point guard in the NBA, especially since Bruce Bowen retired.