Shaking the Roster Up

by

The good folks at Elias Sports Burea are in the business of providing perspective. According to Elias, the Spurs are 3-9 against teams with a .600 or better record. The only Western Conference teams that are worse than the Spurs against said opponents are the Warriors, Timberwolves, Clippers and Kings. League-wide, teams beat .600 teams .329 of the time. To say the Spurs struggle against good teams is putting it gently.

Making matters worse, San Antonio has played 62 percent of its games at home this season. That percentage leads the league, but will quickly race toward the center as the Spurs launch into their annual Rodeo Road Trip.

Let me try this a different way. During Sunday’s telecast, Hubie Brown said the Spurs, or any Western conference team for that matter, should only measure themselves against one question: can they beat the Lakers four out of seven times, and while spotting Kobe’s squad homecourt advantage?

From where I sit, the answer is clearly ‘no’.

If the Spurs need to play at ten, on a scale of one to ten, to win a championship, they’re currently playing at five or six. Maybe they improve, and take things to seven or eight. I can see that. But this team gives us little reason to believe they’re capable of getting to ten. At the end of the day, one has to question whether this team has the right personnel, and whether the current players are not too dinged up, to make a serious run at another title.

That sounds pessimistic. I’m not saying the sky is falling, just that this Spurs team is playoff-caliber, but unlikely to advance far enough to earn a trophy. This franchise is simply not in the business of one and done playoff appearances.  They go for it all, and they go hard. Playing for an extra week in April? Meh. Maybe later. But not now. Not while there is still an opportunity, however diminishing,  to build a championship team around Tim Duncan.

And that’s really what this comes down to. The Spurs’ best opportunity to improve their roster is through the trade market, and the market is interesting. If not now, then this offseason. If not this summer, then next February. But the longer the Spurs wait, the less time the new faces have to gel with their new running mates. And by next summer, the discussion is really about building for a championship in the post-Duncan era. But we’re not there yet, I trust.

If the Spurs don’t make a trade, the best this offseason will bring is a resigned Manu Ginobili, Tiago Splitter and a decent draft pick. And none of that is guaranteed. If it pans out, then it’s a good summer, but not likely good enough. Not with Ginobili and Duncan one season closer to retirement. Those are the realities.

This conversation is complicated by several factors. The most salient among them is the looming possibility of a lockout and a hard cap–a lockout that could rob Tim Duncan of his final year in the NBA. The final year of Duncan’s contract and the next CBA are unhappily wed together.

Put it all together and it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the Spurs need to deal for an impact player.

There is truth to the notion that bringing in another impact player only messes with the team’s chemistry. I get that. I’ve made the point elsewhere. It’s a dangerous roll of the dice. But at this point–at the point of consistently losing to good teams–the position that says hold steady is just as dangerous, if not more so.

This comes with some qualifiers. Trades are not easy to make, and none of them fit just right. I see the Spurs as a team in decline, but not such a rapid decline that recovery is out of the question. The Spurs are still in a position where one smart move can push them to the front of the pack. And a dumb move could push the team into the lottery. It’s not a time for the faint of heart.

But since they’re declining, it would be foolish to trade for players who are in decline themselves. Let me give a tangible example: Tayshaun Prince.

By all accounts, Tayshuan Prince is available, and the Spurs would have the contracts to get a deal done. But is trading for a player who is putting up career lows–PER of 9.08–and has a bad back really what the Spurs need to recover?  There must be better options.

(As an aside, the pile of expiring contracts the Spurs can string together could amount to a player in the 10 million dollar range, but with one huge problem. Those contracts–Bonner, Finley, and Mason Jr.–are the team’s best perimeter shooters. In other words, if the Spurs don’t get a shooter in return, they might create a bigger problem than the one they have now.)

In my estimation, the Spurs should target a player(s) that fills a need (dynamic wing, or gritty, defensive big) and is at least likely to maintain his current level of production through next season. And ideally this player would have a requisite level of durability not shared by the Spurs’ core. Insulating against an already pesky injury bug is an important consideration. If not this, then swing for the fences and target a game-changing All-Star.

Most of the plausible roster shake up scenarios walk a narrow ledge. I’m going to offer two scenarios, but only to give us something to talk through, not because I think the Spurs are moving in either of these directions.  I’m sure our readers will supply many more in the comment thread to this post. But let me stick my neck out and talk you through two types of options I think the Spurs should consider.

The first is getting in on a salary dump, using  Corey Maggette as an example.

The aforementioned combination of Finley, Mason Jr and Bonner would give the Warriors the expiring contracts needed to help right their financial ship, but why would San Antonio trade away its bench for a player who is a lousy three point shooter and possesses an awful contract? In a name, because they’d ask for Anthony Randolph as a sweetener.

The Warriors could offset the Spurs’ cap risk (remember, the possibility of a hard cap is real) by giving the Spurs Anthony Randolph in exchange for taking Maggette off their books. If the Warriors are serious about off-loading Maggette, they need to put a pretty luscious cherry on top of the Corey sundae. No one is taking on his contract otherwise.

Maggette makes sense for the Spurs in other ways. Gregg Popovich recently blew up over San Antonio’s inability to make enough shots, and Maggette can do that. He’s something of a pure scorer, although not a pure shooter. Maggette can play three positions, so the Spurs could feature him as a big 2, a natural swing or a small-ball four. It would not be difficult to find him minutes. With the exception of his three point shooting, there is no reason to think Maggette couldn’t play with Richard Jefferson.

The most problematic issue surrounding a potential trade for a Maggette-like salary dump is that the Spurs would more or less be saying goodbye to the possibility of resigning Manu Ginobili this offseason, something which might make the suggestion of such a move a non-starter. Of course, the Spurs could take their chances on this front and move for Maggette and Randolph with the strong intention to pass Richard Jefferson’s expiring contract off on another team in July, hopefully saving enough money to bring Ginobili back. Maggette, for what it’s worth, earns far less than Jefferson and is, at least this season, a more productive player. For example, Maggette is much better rebounder than RJ, who grabs an underwhelming number of boards for his position.

Of course the Spurs could offer Jefferson in a package for Maggette and Randolph in order to increase their chances of resigning Ginobili, but one wonders if immediate cap relief would not be more attractive to Golden State.

In Anthony Randolph the Spurs would get a player who is capable of playing and guarding three positions within their system, and someone who could be groomed as Tim Duncan eventual successor. His shot-blocking and rebounding would compliment a future frontcourt of Duncan, Splitter, and Blair. In another market, the idea of getting a young player of Randolph’s talent in a dump would be unthinkable.  But right now it’s the kind of added value that moves a contract like Maggette’s.

From a cap standpoint, Corey Maggette’s contract is dangerous, but not lethal to the Spurs. Under this scenario, the Spurs would get relief in the summer of 2011 in the form of Richard Jefferson’s expiring deal (15.2 million) and by waiving Antonio McDyess, whose 5.2 million is not guaranteed for the final year. If one subtracts McDyess from San Antonio’s 2011 books and adds Maggette, Randolph, Splitter and two draft picks (2010 and 2011), the Spurs would be somewhere betweeen 40 and 45 million in payroll. Not wonderful, but it gives R.C. Buford enough cap space to re-up Tony Parker, if they so desire. Maggette would plug the hole left by Jefferson, and the Spurs would be looking at a competitive roster.

But you see the difficulties of making a major move like this. Next year’s payroll is heavy with taxes, it puts the resigning of Manu Ginobili in doubt, and the Spurs would have to scramble to find low cost shooters to place around their bigs. Still, I think this kind of move is worth considering, although obviously not without risk, and would put the Spurs in a better position to win another championship in the Duncan era.

The other option before San Antonio is to move one of Richard Jefferson, Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili. In the case of Jefferson, something like Maggette and Randolph is equitable, after factoring in the financial implications for both teams. In the case of Parker and Ginobili, the Spurs would need to get back an All-Star or there really isn’t a deal that makes sense for them.

Rather than invent a trade scenario of my own for this example, I’ll steal one invented elsewhere: Manu Ginobili for Amar’e Stoudemire. From a fanbase perspective (we hate them, they hate us) this is a laugher. But it’s not such a crazy idea from other angles. In terms of talent for talent, both teams would come out alright. Offensively, both players would fit snugly in their new digs. Neither team would have any guarantees of retaining their new acquisitions this summer, but they don’t have those guarantees now. And for Phoenix, Ginobili is an All-Star they can afford to resign; Manu helps their books. Stoudemire is a book killer for Robert Sarver.

Ian Thomsen’s recent SI article on the possibility of a hard cap under the next CBA leads me to believe that Amar’e Stoudemire is not a lock to opt out of contract this summer. He’s scheduled to make nearly 18 million next season, and I can’t see a team offering him a starting salary of 18 million on a new long term deal. But who knows, there is always Dan Gilbert.  This puts San Antonio in a good spot.

If Stoudemire came to San Antonio, the Spurs would have the remainder of this season and next with a core of Parker, Stoudemire, and Duncan. If it didn’t work out–read: if it only worked as well as the current lineup is working– the Spurs could have a cap number between 25 and 30 million two summers from now, assuming they waive Antonio McDyess. That’s a great place from which to start a proper rebuild.

But my primary interest in a big deal involving Parker or Ginobili is the psychological one. It’s possible the clock has run out on San Antonio’s current core. The Spurs might be in one of those situations where turning over a significant piece could infuse new life into the team.

Gregg Popovich recently issued a mea culpa with regard to his original assessment of the Pau Gasal trade, a move he originally slated as “beyond comprehension.”

“They gave up a great player but it helped them extend the franchise’s success into the future. It’s shown that they’ve done a good job. Whatever they were thinking a couple of iterations ahead at the time has paid off for them.”

“When you make decisions you try to make them good. Obviously, the decision they (the Grizzlies) made then has served them well in the future, which is now.”

You have to wonder if re-shuffling the deck doesn’t provide a bridge into San Antonio’s future.  The difference, of course, is that Pau Gasol was a player moving into his best years. Manu Ginobili is moving out of his.

  • Tristan Wilkins

    I think we should do something, but we need Manu’s play making i think. He isn’t scorin but he is doing great to get others involved. Would Amare get others involved as well? I don’t know, but we gotta do something fast. I think we just need another scoring, defensive big. Marcus Camby would be great, or i would love to see David Lee and Timmy D play 2gether, but won’t happen. But we gotta a long stretch ahead so we gotta get something going. Good article. Love what you guys do for us spurs nut’s!

  • doggydogworld

    “…..it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the Spurs need to deal for an impact player.”

    Been there, done that. Didn’t work. The Spurs have plenty of impact players. They lack cohesion, team defense, rhythm. You’re going to fix those problems with Magette or Stoudemire? Lol.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jjtyler jt

    It’s funny. I hate Amare. But, in a Spurs uniform, I’d love to see him dunk on some other folk.

    You’ve played with my emotions here.

  • Trade TP

    Overall I thought this was a great read, however getting Randolph wouldnt solve our problems in the FC. We saw what signing Gooden did for us last year; nothing. He didnt play. Pop’s refusal to play younger combined with him being new to our team… You would have to hope that Corey would bring a lot of PPG.

    I could see TP playing with Amare and Duncan. That would definately transition nicely.

    I totally agree that this team has shown zero indication of being a contender this year. But it so far looks fairly obvious that this “team” wont play for hardware in the future either.

    You almost have to make a move, with the injuries and the age. Really can Tim play at this level next year?

  • VP of Common Sense

    I think there’s a little too much credit in the hate-bank for me to welcome Amar’e to the team.

    This feels like Karl Malone ’04 all over again.

    Yeah, the guy might help us, but should we really sell our souls to the devil?

    Sounds too intense?

    So was that ’05 playoff series…

    p.s. Suns fans hate Manu with a PASSION.

  • Nick (Italy)

    Personally, I am divided between the “Don’t rock the boat… too much” option and the “Shaking the Roster Up” option and I think the decision mainly comes down to the actual options on the table.

    For example, the trade you suggested with GS is good, but it would be a no brainer if we could add B. Wright (out almost for the season too, anyway Nelson told him to find a new team long before the injury) for a (hopefully) late first rounder (and a minor contract to make the math work).

    However the main variable influencing the future of any franchise from today on is the ability to foresee how the new CBA will look like.

    If a team hurries to shed salary because its FO thinks the next CBA shall contain a substantial lower cap, maybe even an hard cap, it risks giving away talent at an excessive discount, while if such FO is too optimistic it risks years of financial distress.

    Personally I believe that the owners will be divided on the point (those who were optimistic and those who were not) and this will reduce their leverage a little bit.

    IMHO in case the new CBA provides for a substantially lower cap or an hard cap, it shall also provide for an adjustment mechanism in order to allow teams to weather the blow, such as an amnesty (more favourable than the one in 2005) or a progressive reduction of the cap.

    If you are Stern, you really don’t want LeBron, Wade, Bosh and all the other above average players that will sign a new contract (including extensions) in 2010 and 2011 (basically the better part of the top players in the league) stuck on teams that cannot put a decent supporting cast, while an handful of teams with lower payrolls in 2011 win it all for 4-5 years with deep teams of good players.

    Moreover, inflation fears are always there (less real value of future debts).

    That’s why I think that, despite all, optimists with a grain of salt (as always) shall have the upper hand.

  • Jon

    I’ve always thought that Camby was a perfect second big man for Tim (which the front office apparently thought as well at last year’s deadline), and was intrigued by this trade (http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=ykrnsdy):

    Camby and Nocioni to Spurs (gives us a second true shotblocker and post-up threat; Noc gives us toughness and shooting from the wing, and is much more of the small-ball 4 that Pop likes)

    McDyess and Ricky Davis to Kings (gives them a true, vet big that can teach their younger bigs how to play; Ricky Davis is salary fodder)

    RJ to Clippers (Run by Dunleavy, get another scorer, athletic wing, vet)

    RJ is really not working out, it looks like he’s just been on bad teams for too long, and Noc knows how to play winning Argentinean basketball. What do ya’ll think? It looks surprisingly plausible to me

  • ThatBigGuy

    Ummmm, Mr. Varner, did the 71 comments under the “Thinking Clearer About Amar’e” article not show you that the majority of Spurs fans don’t want Amar’e because he sucks at all aspects of the game other than dunking in traffic? That 85% of his offense is generated by the most unselfish passer of the past decade, whom we won’t have?

    I don’t think we, as fans, hate Amar’e because he plays for Phoenix.We hate the idea of paying huge money for a guy who can’t generate his own offense, can’t rebound (36th at his position), and can’t play a single shred of defense.

    In order for Amar’e to be good in our system, we’d have to completely revamp our system. Ditch Tony and Hill because they aren’t pass first point guards. Ditch Blair because he can’t cover Amar’e’s ass on the weak side D. The only guy who is suited to the way he plays is Manu, who is fading faster than Kimbo Slice in the octagon. Does Ian get a chance because of his athleticism? If I was Al Jefferson/Nene/Bosh/Chris Kaman/Bynum/Dwight Howard/Gasol Brothers/Zach Randolf, I’d salivate going up against an Ian/Amar’e front court.

    Amar’e will only be worth the money he’s invariably going to get by playing with Chris Paul or Ricky Rubio. He just can’t do anything on his own. Sure, you make the designation that a Manu for Amar’e trade works out “offensively,” but you know full well that the proposed trade falls apart on every other level.

    Maybe it’s time to just realize that our chances of a title have faded with Timmy’s age. He can’t put up 42 and 21 3 times a month anymore. He gave us 4 titles, so maybe it’s just time to sit back, enjoy his twilight, and respect the fact that a dynasty requires a transcendent player, which we were fortunate enough to have for 13 (or 14 or 15) seasons.

  • Tyler

    Great read.

    From the Suns’ POV, I can’t see Kerr being able to sell a Manu for Amare swap. Even though Sarver is a penny pincher, he might not only alienate his fans, but his best player in Steve Nash.

    From the Spurs’ POV, even though people will say “it’s just business”, that’s never been how the Spurs’ operate. San Antonio has never had a player as popular and as beloved as Manu. If history is any guide, I seriously doubt Manu ever playing in another jersey. The closest thing I can come to is the Bruce Bowen trade, and Bruce’s popularity wasn’t even close to Manu’s.

    One other point that was alluded to in the potential GS deal. Jefferson’s $15M contract is up after next year. If we don’t move him this year, this will be one of the largest trade chips out there next season. Just something to think about.

  • Renato

    I would love for the spurs to entice a team using Bonner and Finnely, but I find it unwise to throw in mason unless they get a pure jump shooter back. What about Ratliff or Mahimi, can they be used in trades too? If the spurs could get wright, magette, and randolph they should immediately do that trade for bonner finnely jefferson/mason jr.

  • 2 thoughts

    1. A minor point, but perhaps we shouldn’t be so concerned about the next CBA in regards to taking on more money, as long as the contract/-s we take on don’t go past 2010/2011 or so. Holt is one of a few owners who are representing the league in the negotiations with the players’ association, and I’m sure as a matter of self-preservation that he could make sure that a gradual transition to a hard cap was implemented over the course of a season or two so that we wouldn’t be crippled too badly.

    2. I like the proposal others have suggested previously of doing a lower-key move and rolling the dice on Jared Jeffries. The salaries almost perfectly match if we dealt Finley and Mason for Jeffries straight up, and we could add a small, extra expiring (e.g. Bogans) if we also got a sweetener like a draft pick or Wilson Chandler. Jeffries could address both of our major weaknesses — perimeter D and extra shot-blocking (he’s in the top 35 in blocks/48) — from the bench. It wouldn’t cost us much, either — if Manu is healthy come the play-offs, he will eat up most if not all of the minutes Mason and Finley would have seen, and if Manu’s not healthy, then we’re in for a short post-season anyway. If it doesn’t work out, Jeffries’ contract expires after next season, so we’d have another expiring deal to use in trades when we almost certainly would be in full rebuilding mode.

  • VP of Common Sense

    I’m not too excited about the Maggette/Randolph package proposed here.

    First off, Maggette has always played for losing teams and from every account is not a “high character” type player the Spurs are used to. In the past, he’s complained about minutes, shots, and touches… not exactly a guy who gets “the secret” (for those who’ve read the B.O.B. by: B. Simmons).

    When fans wanted to get Vince Carter over the summer I would consider Maggette a similar player from the standpoint: the guy has unquestionable talent, but does he really give a sh!t?

    And second, no one questions the potential of Anthony Randolph, but there has got to be a reason he never gets more than 20+ minutes of burn. I know the inevitable “put a knucklehead around Pop, Timmy, and the Spurs system and they’ll straighten him out” argument will ensue, but I don’t know if it’s worth the gamble right now. Plus, he’s injured!

    I think we need a vet with playoff experience and high basketball IQ.

    I’ll throw a name out there: James Posey

  • sj_papi

    Great article. Even though the moves put out there are hypothetical, they really bring to light the situation facing our beloved SPURS. The RJ/Dice deal was a long shot… I just don’t see Holt quite rolling those Dice again (no pun intended). I have no doubt that the SPURS will make a trade, but I think that it will be for another role player who can try to fill one of our needs. Holt will hold off on any major changes until the off season. This team is not good enough to beat the Lakers, but some of the ownus has to be put on Pop. He’s got to figure this out. These constant line-up changes are just making it harder for our players to know their roles. There is still no identity on this team and that needs to come from the Head Coach. Come on Pop…. get the lead out!

  • http://fundamentally-sound.blogspot.com Jaceman

    I’m leery of the Amar’e for Ginobili and stuff trade. I’ve posted on this, but there are too many unknowns. However, if we are to get someone for Ginobili, Amar’e is on that list. Of course, I have a long list of who I would love to play next to Duncan, however, even with all our offseason moves to strengthen our wing positions, I really don’t find them to be significantly better.

  • AP

    Let’s all dream on…
    I like Bosh to the Spurs.
    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine

  • VP of Common Sense

    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=yh49tyk

    San Antonio gets:
    James Posey
    Fabricio Oberto

    New Orleans gets:
    Keith Bogans
    Michael Finley
    Mike James (via Wash)

    Wizards get:
    Matt Bonner
    Julian Wright (via NO)

    Posey can shoot the 3 ball, provide good perimeter defense, and hit clutch shots (ala Big Shot Rob).

    Oberto knows the system. Big and capable body. Manu gets an Argentinean mate back on the team.

    Posey’s 3 year deal is only detriment IMO.

  • Trade TP

    Oh goodness. Someone didnt just say that POP was at fault for the play of the Spurs. How dare you!

    Didnt Greg say if he didnt win with this group he should be fired?

    We’ve never developed anyone to take over when Tims play started to decline, we’ve never really developed anyone. Now the holes are starting to get bigger, and things are being exposed. The system worked with a player that we had. We either need to change strategy, or change players. Something needs done. Unless 7th place is fine for everyone.

  • SpurredOn

    I agree with doggydog. We heard all off-season how the team needed to get younger and more athletic. They have. And now own a worse record than last season, when an old and injured team with few scoring options tied for the second best record in the hyper competitive West. It’s still much too early to pull the plug on the transformation the team took. It may not pan out beyond a competitive second round loss, but I doubt a trade would do better. The current group has more upside than most hypothetical trades.

    Maggette? Besides the obvious that he’s not a shooter and would further retard team defense cohesion, I wonder how his numbers would translate in a Spurs uniform instead of GS. Different styles and priorities between these teams, as GS is often playing catchup and at a frenetic pace. He also likes the 1-on-1 game which is not the strength of the Spurs.

  • Dogbot

    If we as fans buy into the concept that it is difficult to learn the Spurs system, and certainly there is ample evidence for the importance of “corporate knowledge”–at least it has been proffered as an explanation for the slow start this year, is there any reason to believe a mid-season trade will have meaningful, positive impact this year? Along the same lines, has there ever been a mid-season trade under Pop’s regime that has been wildly successful that same season? I come up with none although there may be examples I can’t recall. With this in mind, it is difficult to believe a mid-season trade will have any positive impact this year. We play the hand we have.

  • SpurredOn

    I also take umbrage to Hubie Brown’s question, since the Lakers are no gurantee in the deep West to make it through three playoff rounds. Their current resume shows: double digit home losses to Dallas and Houston, blowout losses at Denver, Phoenix (and SA), plus losses at Portland, Utah and Memphis. This reads like the Spurs’ resume but it belongs to LA. This doesn’t include getting swept by the Cavs, or the miracle home wins over Miami and Sac (both teams that the Spurs ran over) when both teams missed late FTs that allowed Kobe to save the day at the buzzer.

    The Spurs have yet received no such breaks, which happens. They’ve had the unfortunate bad luck to play recent teams (Memphis, Chicago, Charlotte, Utah) that were playing at their best and beating everyone. Plus the close games they’ve given away earlier. I would still let the road trip play out, at the least, before making a trade. It’s also important to let all 82 play out for everyone. If this team can be at their best come April, seeding won’t matter. In the West, even the 1-8 matchup will be tough, so just be healthy, confident and cohesive come playoff time.

  • Jonathan

    forget it, were not moving any of our core players unless you consider mason one of them.

  • Trade TP

    Where are all the McDyess will be a great addition people at?

  • Tyler

    Dogbot – Nazr Mohommed (sp?). That was a HUGE trade for us that year….

  • Tyler

    Dogbot – Although your point is still valid…

  • muffin man

    @doggydogworld Who exactly were these “impact” players the Spurs dealt for? I assume you are referring to Jefferson and Mcdyess, but by your own admission they haven’t worked out, so they can’t be considered “impact” players, right?

    I agree that the Spurs need to improve their cohesion, “rhythm”, and team defense, but they also need to improve their overall talent by trading for true impact players. If the Spurs don’t do this, their team defense will not be elite. They lack a consistently good perimeter defender and, yes, a shot blocking big to go next to Duncan. If the Spurs don’t get back to being an elite defense team, they have no chance against the Lakers. And how the Spurs match up against the Lakers is all that matters.

  • Bruno Santana

    GOOD TRADE!!

    Out
    Richard Jefferson
    Mason JR
    Bonner

    In
    S. Jackson (Good scorer, play in SG/SF and defend well)
    Tyson Chandler (big and young guy, can learn the defense system)

  • Bruno Santana

    Finley need play(15-20min). is a good 3p shotter. play the system of the spurs. no trade ginobili this guy is the heart of the spurs.

  • idahospur

    For as bad as the Spurs may have been this year, only 2 games behind Dallas in the SW division (which features 5 playoff teams). IMO, the Spurs need to win this division to get at least one round of home advantage.
    The Spurs have succeeded in years where a lot of things go their way. It seems this is a year where it isn’t happening or hasn’t happened yet. Returning back to past championship models needs to be looked at.
    The first: Bruce Bowen. An annoying defender who made those corner 3’s look easy. No one on this team has filled this role. Who can step in these shoes? This needs to be addressed.
    Antonio McDyess. I had doubts about him until I read what Billups said about him, that he shows up at the end of the season. This may be starting now and hopefully we can continue this trend. However, he doesn’t do the work that Robinson, Nazr, Rasho, etc. could do. Blair is a monster but has limits based on size and experience.
    Shooters. In years past, the Spurs won by having a player make up those end of the game deficits by making big shots. Horry and Kerr come to mind. This year, we have Bonner, Mason, and Ginobili, who aren’t putting the ball in the basket. If 3 players can’t do the work that one has done in the past, how can this team make a late season push?
    I agree with what was said about RJ on losing teams, it screws you up. He could make a return next year with a winning game, but I, and many other Spurs fans, want another title this year. With all the talk about age and lock-outs, every year needs to be a championship run year.
    Get the team healthy, fill a few empty roles, and make shots.

  • Chris

    Well if Manu’s not going to be back next year (and from the sound of what he’s been saying it sounds more likely he’ll be gone) we might as well try to get talent for him instead of loosing him for nothing.

  • Michael

    we need brandon heywood and raja bell

  • Chris K.

    ThatBigGuy,

    There’s a lot of truth in what you say about Amare, but it was your more general comment about championship teams needing a “transcendent” star that caught my eye and is the subject of this post.

    Just in the last six years there were arguably two championship teams without a transcendent star: the 04 Pistons and the 07 Spurs.

    The case of the Pistons I think is pretty clear-cut. They got the job done without 1 dominant player, with great defense, offensive execution, and an underdog mentality.

    The 07 Spurs were similar. Was Tim still a transcendent or dominant star then? Was Tony? He won Finals MVP. One can argue that neither were “transcendent” or dominant stars.

    Coming into this year, I thought this Spurs team had a chance to be like the 04 Pistons or 07 Spurs: a great, championship-level team without one clear-cut, dominant player who get the job done through defensive effort, offensive execution, teamwork, and savvy.

    The problem is, Tony has not been the Tony of the 07 Finals or the 08-09 season. Manu has perhaps moved into his new, permanent role of complimentary player, not capable of 40 point explosions like he was in the past. (I think Manu’s passing has improved, and is as good as I’ve ever seen it, but that’s making plays for others, not making them himself.) Tim has been amazing, but his brilliance is not enough against teams with 3 or 4 high level players.

    I thought Richard Jefferson would pick up whatever slack Manu and Tim’s decline had left, but he has not. His flashes of good play make me wonder if the blame for his lack of production ought not primarily fall on Popovich and the coaching staff. We have not had a scoring, athletic wing like Jefferson since Pop took over. It seems Pop’s offense does not put Jefferson in position to excel, and that is a fault of coaching.

    I don’t see a trade for a All-Star caliber player making a difference at this point, even if we only trade our expiring contracts of rotation players. There is too often a brittleness to the play of our new Spurs that I assume comes with unfamiliarity of the offense, but wherever it comes from, it is not conducive to winning.

    By all accounts, Jefferson was a sure-thing, can’t-miss difference maker for this team. Well, he has missed.

    Therefore, there are no can’t-miss players for us to trade for. We already did that, and it didn’t work out.

    If Pop and the front office can divine the reasons why Jefferson is not making the impact we thought then there would be hope that obtaining a new player through trade would help, but, paradoxically, if they correct the reasons why Jefferson is not making an impact, there would be no need for a trade.

    In other words, I don’t trust this Spurs team ( coaching staff) in working a new player into the mix because they’ve failed to do that already. The only way I could trust them is if they did it with Jefferson and the others, but if they successfully did it with Jefferson and the others, there would be no need to trade for anyone else.

  • Mike

    What about Manu for Rip Hamilton? Pistons get the expiring contract they need and opens up room since Bynum, Stuckey, Rip and Gordon all play the same position. Spurs get the shooter, defender, and scorer they need. Salaries match, and by the time Rip’s contract expires (3 years, not including this season), Timmy will be hanging it up…. SA will be able to start fresh and free w a new team and era at that time.

  • junierizzle

    I know MANU aint the same, but I still think they should keep him.
    I only like AMARE if they keep MANU. MANU seems to want to be more of a distributor these days. I can see AMARE getting dunk after dunk with MANU setting him up. But that ain’t gonna happen.
    MANU practically misse all of last season.
    YOu don’t start playing great all of a sudden when you miss that many games. I feel he will be better come seasons end.

  • Anthony McDonald

    Don’t make any major changes! Tinker here and there. Grab another SF preferably a shooter. This current team is not constructed to be a 60 win team. We just need to gel and play our best ball entering the playoffs. Therefore, Blair and Urban Myth (Ian) should get good minutes.

    On a side note, has anyone noticed that David Stern’s favorite team has dropped several significant games to the “competition”. Moreover, Kobe has had to save them several times this season? Is it possible the Lakers are using up all their “last-second karma”?

    Just thoughts, but if we are throwing names in the hat….what about…….Jared Dudley and Grant Hill? Phoenix is going down. Dudley is a scrappy, hard-nosed player with 3 point range. Grant is ancient but still able to work the midrange game. Grant would have a semi-realistic shot at a ring.

  • Trade TP

    Chris, That was probably the most logical post I have read on here.

  • Bushka

    I still firmly believe that we stay the course till the end of the year, evaluate how Manu and the other core guys have played and progressed then move forward from there.

    I don’t see a market place right now for Richard Jefferson & his contract. It’s too large and his been too unproductive thus far. We are better served letting him work himself into some kind of form. We wont get anything spectacular for him in trade that will push us past the lakers, and if he does come round we reap the benefits. At the end of the season his contract is a year closer to running its course and he is a rosier proposition to other clubs.

    If we blow it all up right now we waste Tim’s last legs for nought. We can’t rebuild around him, theres not enough time left, and i’d rather eat my own legs than see him play for someone else so trading him is out of the question.

    McDyess is playing better over the last few weeks, and is a noted strong finisher.

    Right now we are a first round/second round playoff team. Thats with our dissapointing level of play and lack of cohesion/poor shooting.

    If that’s the basement..then i’m ok with that. The ceiling is higher in my opinion than the original post would dictate.

    I understand of course that the writer is playing devils advocate.

  • mike wilson

    tell ya what. i say we’ll trade ya kyle korver and Kosta Koufos for Ginobili. deal?

  • Renato

    I realize he is a little old, but T-Mac would look very nice in a spurs uniform

  • alamobro

    This is directed at the VP of common sense.

    I love your name, lol, and I think most of your comments are thought provoking.

    But you are deluded if you think Posey and Fabio are what gets us over this monolithic hump. Specially at the cost of Bonner ( and Fins ) three point shooting.

    Does anyone else think that if Manu was Ok, he would have showed us something special, now that its practically days before the trading deadline?

    Hey “Spurred On” We are exactly 2 games away from being out of the playoffs, with the CAKE portion of the schedule out of the way. Its actually not too early to pull the plug. In fact, we have only about 17 days left to be able to pull that plug…

    The Spurs have several valuable chips, itll be interesting to see if they do anything….

  • SpurredOn

    @alomobro – That’s the West, man. Two games from being out. Two games from being in first. This is why the less than halfway point is too soon to panic, especially when dealing with a talented teams that has played under their ability. It’s not as though they’ve been playing great while completely healthy, yet scraped to their current record. They’ve been underacheiving, had injuries and played other teams at the wrong time. Yet still were there with a chance to win in the final minutes of most every loss.

    I certainly wouldn’t call the portion of completed schedule cake. In terms of the top teams in the West it’s spread out pretty evenly all season. Half done with Memphis, Houston, OKC, Portland and Denver. All done with Utah and only one remaining with Dallas. After next week half done with the Lakers. That’s not cake.

  • G-Man

    I’m not a fan of Maggette. he pass on signing in SA when he was a FA and went to G.S. He is not a winner. I would prefer Prince and Hamilton if possible. They are winners and played w/ Larry Brown, great basketball IQ. Unfortunately, they are both hurt and they’re salaries are good.

    Amare is a player I’m not sure about. I would trade RJ for him, but NOT Manu. The Suns have enough shooting guards.

    I guess I still believe the Spurs need a healthy Parker and Manu. They need to have they’re shooters shoot well and they need a defensive wing. Best possible deal: how about Hamilton, Prince and Wallace for RJ, Bonner, Mason and Finley/Ian? Dumars has to be getting some heat for trading the heart of the team last year in Billups and sing the money from the Iverson deal to land Gordon and Villenueva. This trade would give the Pistons a chance to still enter the FA period this year and have a SF to fit in.

    We get winners with high IQ and if healthy, imagine: Tony, Rip, Tayshaun, Dice/Ben and Timmy with Manu leading a still strong bench w/ George, DeJuan, Dice/Ben, Findog and Theo? the problem there is no backup SF, unless Pop play Hairiston.

    Eitherway, we NEED SOMETHING FAST AND SOON, but nothing stupid!

  • VP of Common Sense

    Hey Gman,
    Maybe we could bring in Larry Brown as Pop’s assistant and fully become the San Antonio Pistons! J/k

    Joking aside, I understand your concerns alamobro but to be honest Posey is the type of permiter defender we need, not to mention he can shoot the 3 as well as Finley and equal to Bonner on a good team.

    Plus, Posey is clutch.. Can you say that about Bonner or Finley?

  • alamobro

    VP, While I havent seen him play, I have heard Posey looks bad this season…

    I dont think Bonner and Fin for Fabio/Posey is bad, I just dont think its much if at all an upgrade. Both Bonner and Fin are infinetly better three point shooters than Posey ( I agree that Posey has hit more shots in the clutch though ) And Fabs? How much of an upgrade is he over Dice?

    SpurredOn…the last few games at home really dealt a blow to the confidence I have in this current squad..

  • SpurredOn

    @alamobro – I understand. Though I know there’s still time to improve and believe they can, I’m also going on hope that they will. Watching the recent homestand, which was a great opportunity, end below .500 makes optimism hard to cling to. But it’s gotta click at some point, right?.. (fingers crossed)

    Here’s to the guys winning back all fans’ confidence on the road trip.

  • The Man In Black

    Saying the Spurs need to play at a 10 is a false assumption. Because the Lakers don’t always play at a 10. While, it’s true that they’ve played better than the Spurs, what’s also true is that they’ve had to rely heavily on their starters. Not saying that that is detrimental, what I’m saying is that that can prove to be problematic should there either be injury or foul issues.
    Anyone can beat anyone, this current Lakers team could be ready for another 2004 beatdown. I’d like for it to be the Spurs, but their inconsistency doesn’t make them a favorable choice. I have hopes, but only hard work and cohesion will validate it. That remains to be seen.

  • FAN

    I like the versatility of Maggette & Randolph trade. It seems to be outstanding at providing several options for POP while adding just two players. Just wish we could find a way to let RG find a team with the system that suites his game. He is a very productive player if its right just think he’ll never ever be all that with the Spurs. Why wouldn’t Phoenix swap Amare for RG and some other player\draft pick combo? He’s a big name that would have the Phoenix’s thinking good deal if sweeten with others. RG flourishes in a run and gun no “D” scenario why not there with Nash? Pull these trades off and wow what an offensive team we would have. The only bad thing is that in this scenario Manu is gone to Golden State. Spurs without Manu would be hard to stomach, but I feel he’s the odd super star out in our future. I do hate the thought of seeing him playing for someone else. He has to be one of the greatest champions the Spurs had an opportunity to love because simply he’s Manu Ginobili!

  • jk31007
  • Hobson13

    The Spurs have 6 road games before the trade deadline. If this team falls flat on it’s ass in the first few games (which is entirely possible considering the past few weeks) then I think the Spurs look to make a move. If the Spurs do well over this period, I think the team stands pat and the FO lets things play out this season.

    If by some chance things go sour and the Spurs make a move, it will be a move for the future. As noted in several of the above posts, it’s just too late in the season to add a major piece and expect things to work out. I would have to surmise that the person in the middle of the trade would be Manu due to his age, expiring contract, and health concerns over the last few years. (I’m just not convinced he fits into our long-term plans unless he comes at a deep discount.)

    Next year, we could (I know there are TONS of ifs here) have a fairly young core of a healthy Parker, Hill, Blair, Jefferson, and maybe another young piece. I’m more and more intrigued with Andre Igoudala, but its a long shot. One trade that might possibly work is Manu and Jefferson for Igoudala and Dalembert. The Spurs would get a big with length and shot blocking plus a great defender and athlete in A.I. Philly would get almost $11mil in cap relief this year plus another $14mil next year. Philly would also have a player in Jefferson who could get more shots and possibly help keep them afloat next year. Probably a long shot, but it would be interesting…

  • kaveh

    If the Warriors make such a trade then they are dumber than even i thought. Of course they are pretty stupid, but i doubt anyone can be THIS stupid.

    First off, you guys don’t seem to have much respect for Corey. The man is an incredible basketball player. He does all the right things. His best attribute may be his ability to get to the free throw line. This guy has a TS% of a disgusting 63.3%! I’m not sure i can tell you just how efficient that number is. Especially for a PERIMETER player. To put it in perspective, Lebron James, perhaps the best perimeter player in the game stat wise (i think Kobe is all around the best), is shooting 60.7%.

    TS% is an efficiency number. It shows what you produce on each shot attempt. It is absolutely incredible for a player to get this high a number if he plays on the perimeter. Inside players, even ones who shoot a lot, i can see getting this high a percent. But perimeter players? It is incredible.

    And this is the reason why Corey has a PER of OVER 22 points! That again, is an incredible number. He is playing at his peak, and he is very important to have on a team.

    To trade such a player for garbage in order to cut salary is a mistake. But believe me, that’s not the worst of it. To also give Wrandolph in the trade for a “sweetener” as though one is NEEDED in the first place? Wrandolph is in his 2nd year and is also an incredible stat stuffer. His potential is out of this world and he is very young.

    To trade these two STUDS for what can only be considered as garbage sub-par role players is not rational. Especially when considering that Wrandolph is on his rookie contract and thus super underpaid. While Corey is the Warriors BEST player and is incredibly efficient.

    You guys think the Pau Gasol trade was lopsided? They got the rights to Marc GAsol, they got other draft picks, they got the cap room in order to sign Randolph. It made it possible for them to draft their great perimeter players, etc. This potential trade you guys are talking about is a joke in comparison.

  • lvmainman

    Don’t like Maggette & Randolph for all our 3 pt shooters. Amare is an atrocious fit for the Spurs as many have stated.

    Since the Stephen Jackson ship has sailed, the Spurs should look to securing 1 of the 3 young swingmen on the Blazers: Nicholas Batum, Travis Outlaw, or Martell Webster. All are active, decent defenders, and adequate 3 pt shooters.

    Batum would be my 1st choice, seems to take good shots, hustle, play D, and of course could easily adapt with Tony Parker as a mentor as a fellow frenchman.