Respect for the Phoenix Suns

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Coming into the series, I told Michael Schwartz (proprietor of the Phoenix Suns blog Valley of the Suns) that San Antonio Spurs fans treat the Suns’ status as a true rival as a controverted issue. Our Jesse Blanchard, for example, took the position that the Suns could not be considered a rival until they actually beat the Spurs. This is how I framed the issue:

[San Antonio fans tend to see]the Suns as a speed bump on the Spurs’ trek through the playoffs. The Suns have never beat the Spurs in a meaningful series, and, in the eyes of some Spurs fans, this renders “rivalry” into something of an overblown description. And, of course, depending on how quickly the Spurs dismiss the Suns, the “rivalry” may be less of a speed bump and more of a passing lane.

After last night’s 110-96 dismantling of the Spurs, the Suns couldn’t make me look more foolish. They’re neither speed bump nor passing lane. The Suns are a bunch of psychotic motorists sharing the wheel of a high speed killing machine, and, at least for this series, the Spurs are a cat on the highway.

Thump.

And then the Suns  hit their brakes and put the car in reverse.

Thump. Splat. Thump.

These aren’t Mike D’Antoni’s Suns.

If the Suns are able to close-out this series–who among us seriously doubts that they will–I’m cheering for them for the rest of the postseason. They’ve earned it. But let me explain.

Steve Nash is 36. Grant Hill is 37.  You know how the song goes: there is a place in the sun for anyone who has the will to chase one. The Suns have been on the chase for a long time, and their opportunities are dwindling. The old guys are on the clock.

And Alvin Gentry and Steve Kerr have transformed the Suns into something more than a pretty face. Steve Kerr took an odd approach to re-building, but his risk-taking approach has found its much-deserved reward. It’s nice to see yet another Spurs alumnus find his way. And Gentry? He’s an old Larry Brown protege–Pop and Gentry used to take turns fetching Brown’s clipboard–who has been able to infuse just a hint of Brown’s we-must-get-stops mentality into the Suns’ high octane system. Score one for distant relatives.

But if the conquered cheering for the conqueror seems perverse to you, let’s at least concede that it’s smart.

Prior to this series, Wayne Winston picked the Spurs in six, but with a noteworthy caveat.  From the outset he maintained that the story of the series would be the Spurs’ effective containment of the Suns’ bench, especially Jared Dudley and Channing Frye. And while Goran Dragic wasn’t mentioned by name, Winston was insistent on this point. In private correspondence he told me, “This series has nothing to do with how the starting lineups match-up. It will be won or lost based on how the Spurs respond to the Suns’ bench.”

Oh, and that bench. Wow.

Alvin Gentry likes to go to his subs for the first 6 minutes of the 4th quarter, and it’s not some sort of confidence building stunt. Not anymore. It’s a grand departure from Mike D’Antonio’s insanely short rotations.

The Suns have evolved before our eyes, and by the time last night’s game ended, they were this postseason’s lead car. According to Winston’s numbers, the Suns have been the best team in the playoffs.

The. Best. Team. The Suns. Seriously.

Don’t get me wrong, my perversity knows its limits: I’ll never cheer for the Lakers. And my grotesque inclinations run hither and yon. Nothing would give me more pleasure than watching the Suns crumble, losing 4 straight to the Spurs.  But if that doesn’t happen, I’ll take pleasure in watching them beat everyone else.

  • Hobson13

    It appears that the Spurs and Suns have flip-flopped over the past two years. It used to be the Suns that played only 8 deep and played heavy minutes with Nash and Stat. Now its the Spurs who play 7-8 deep and are riding the Big 3 for heavy minutes. The Suns always seemed to have one of their big players (usually Shawn Marion or Barbosa) disappear during a game. Now its RJ or Hill for the Spurs (even though I’d give Hill a pass since he’s so young). It used to be the Suns that would run out to a huge lead only to lose the game. Now its the Spurs.

    Even if we win game 4, there’s a 98% chance we lose this series. All in all, this year has been a HUGE mixed bag. We started the season thinking we were championship material and but by halfway through the year many thought we wouldn’t make the playoffs. We had a great run through the last 6 weeks of the season and beat the second seeded Mavs for some sweet revenge, but then we got smoked by a Suns team many here thought inferior.

    This series has really provided a TON of insight as to what this team is missing. We need another defensive big to help Duncan, a pair of 3pt aces to spread the floor, another good player or two to help shore up our bench problem. Now a list of what we don’t need: Matt Bonner, Roger Mason, Keith Bogans. Let these dudes walk. We need the cap space for good players.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Timothy Varner

    @Hobson13

    I had considered drafting a post saying the same thing, with basically the same laundry list of needed improvements. Which is to say, I agree.

  • idahospur

    Everyone on the Suns team that steps on the floor is contributing, the same cannot be said about the Spurs. The Suns have so many weapons and have finally found a method to defeat the Spurs and have dismantled their awesome defense.

    In the year the Celtics won the title, we all remember the brutal 7 game series against an up and coming Hornets team. After defeating them in New Orleans, the Spurs headed to LA to face the Lakers. Our stamina had run out, which left the Lakers to lose in the Finals to the Celtics. After the season, ESPN analysts wrote an article about whether the Spurs, Suns, and Mavs were done, and a new group of teams would dominate the West. Most agreed that Dallas and Phoenix were no longer serious contenders, but the jury was still out on the Spurs. Due to bad health, the Spurs have struggled to return to the top of the West but Phoenix and Dallas made significant changes, and are now in that top tier. The Spurs struggled this year, but did pull together at the end, leading to the great series over Dallas, just a few days ago. We exceeded many expectations, but are simply not doing things right this series. As I continue to pray for miracles, the answer to win the next four games seems like an impossible feat.

    Serious changes will be made to this team in the off-season, as was done last year. This year was significantly better than last year, mainly due to getting past the first round. The truth is that there are 12 playoff teams in the West, trying to fit in 8 positions. If the Spurs don’t make changes, the other teams will and will push this great dynasty into the lottery.

  • http://mysa.com RO

    Man how I would love to for the Spurs to still win this series. That would be amazing. I don’t see that happening. Sorry guys.

  • lvmainman

    Popovich why have Blair guard Richardson @ 3 pt line? FT line jumper – 2 pts,
    Why have Blair guard Dragic @ 3 pt line? Up and under layup – 2 pts
    Why have Blair guard Barbosa @ 3 pt line? Layup – 2 pts
    Why have Blair guard Barbosa @ 3 pt line?
    Uncontested 3 pt shot – 3 pts
    Why have Duncan on Dragic @ 3 pt line? Baby 3 ft hook @ rim – 2 pts
    Why have Duncan on Dragic @ 3 pt line? Layup – 2 pts
    Why have Duncan on Dragic @ 3 pt line? Uncontested 3 pt shot – 3 pts

    This all happened in the last 17 minutes of the game!!

    I don’t see Jarrod Collins on Parker or Ginobili.

    What is Popovich doing?

    Dragic gets playing time during season, Hairston doesn’t. Why? Dragic gets chance to impact a playoff game. Hairston doesn’t. Why? Jefferson was 1 for 7 in the 1st half, including a missed dunk on the 1st possession of the game. Surely, playing Hairston couldn’t have done worse.

    How come nobody asks Popovich these questions during the press conference on NBATV? He got 2 questions. Why is the media so lame?

  • Jonathan

    I never truly believed we could make it through this whole postseason and win the championship. Losing now is probably the least heartbreaking way to go, though it would have been nice to have a more competitive series. It’s hard to hate this Suns team, because of the way they play and the fact that we’ve consistently stomped their dreams in recent years. Losing to the Mavs or Lakers would have been horrible. At least we beat Dallas…ah, that was great. I can live with this, just wasn’t our year. Good luck to the Suns (I know the series isn’t quite over, but it really is) against the Lakers.

  • Hobson13

    @ Tim V,

    I envision another summer of significant moves(maybe even blockbuster trades). I can see this team needing at least 3 new faces but possibly as many as 5. It’s painfully clear that we must develop a serious PLAYOFF bench as opposed to the Bonners of the world who are merely regular season eye candy but playoff nose candy! I’m sure its too early to start talking trades, but RJ and Tony are our best pieces.

  • http://everyspring.wordpress.com/ Jordan

    The Spurs have competed every game. Right now they’re just running out of gas. However, I disagree with Tim (sorry). I won’t be rooting for the Suns at all. If LA and Phoenix face off in the WCF, I will turn off the TV.

    I feel like Phoenix’s offense is based off gimmicks. Is it a good offense? Obviously yes, but I feel like it’s ridiculous. And if they win the championship, the shape of the NBA will change so that every team will just camp all their players at the 3pt line waiting for a 1 v 1 matchup. Each team going smaller and smaller until we have two teams of point guards attacking each other off the dribble.

    I will be cheering for Orlando if the Spurs lose. They play good defense, and they’re actually fun to watch. I like watching their defense more than anyone else’s but the Spurs’

    No the Suns don’t play good defense, the Spurs missed a lot of easy shots (including free throws). The Suns offense was phenomenal, but only because they are shooting an amazing % on shots we want them to take. Did Grant Hill miss a mid-range jumper? Did anyone on their team? It seemed that after the 1st quarter of every game, the Suns just couldn’t miss and through no fault of our team (except those open 3′s).

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Timothy Varner

    @Hobson13

    I don’t think trading Parker is the solution, but I agree that they’ll explore his market.

    The Spurs pick and roll defense is in dramatic decline, and I hope that’s a major consideration when they explore the trade market.

    Testing the market on Jefferson should be done early and often. I suspect Malik Hairston and/or Alonzo Gee could equal his production in the Spurs’ system.

    Splitter is a must. Mahinmi makes sense as a low cost 5th big. Bonner has had his chances, but ultimately I don’t think he helps the team get over the hump. Bogans and Mason Jr. are gone.

    All these things are true even if the Spurs put together a remarkable recovery against the Suns.

    Big offseason, indeed. I’m thankful the Spurs can go into the offseason with such clarity.

  • lvmainman

    Popovich, hedge the screen and roll or trap it, have the guard fight over the screen, have the big go back to the big. Yes, Duncan will get worn out playing this type of defense. So, Blair and Bonner will have to play more minutes. But watching bigs play one-on-one against guards is ridiculous. Make Stoudamire, Frye, and Collins be playmakers by catching the ball at the FT line or 3 pt line. No more bigs on guards, Duncan is too old to matchup anymore.

    Popovich, you need to scream @ the referees about the illegal zone defense the Suns are playing. Get a technical if you have to. Richardson spends 5 seconds at a time each possession in the paint with Jefferson on the floor(Got called once out of 12 times for a technical, even got a steal doing it). Nash spends 5 seconds in the paint off Parker when Ginobili has the ball in the pick and roll.

    Let’s go Popovich. Coach. Make the adjustments. We’ve played the Suns 6 times this year. They’ve scored at least 110 pts in all 6 games!!

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  • Hobson13

    @ Tim V,

    I agree with everything you said. If we could keep Parker by getting 3 nice pieces for Jefferson, I’d do it today. I think Parker can regain much of his former abilities IF he takes the summer off. A backcourt combo of Manu, Parker, and an improving Hill would be formidable. At this point, however, Jefferson must go. I agree that Hairston, given the playing time early in the year, could reproduce what RJ has done. RJ’s not a bad player, just a bad fit.

  • Kory

    What was frustrating to me last night was that in the fourth quarter, the Spurs were switching a big onto a small and the Suns weren’t really even setting screens. The guard would come close to the big and SA would switch with no effort for the guards to fight through the sorry excuse for a screen being set. I don’t get it. And the way the Suns were hitting wide open shots, that was the game.

  • SpursfanSteve

    Bonner and Blair were the only role players who showed up last night. Bonner needs to be kept around until he is actually replaced. I’m sure many will scoff at that, but even his production in the regular season will need replaced. Because our system relies heavily on spreading the floor, if he is gone our system is shot until someone else fills that role. I’m not saying keep him all year, but i am saying make damn sure you have someone else signed who can make a 3 before letting him walk. He played excellent last night. only missed 1 shot, then he got his own rebound and made the jumper. I know thats been a playoff aberration for him, but i still think he helps us as much as he hurts us. Make sure his replacement is an improvement, someone who knows the system, can make the 3, and won’t make stupid plays. Bonner at least was good at all of that.

  • junierizzle

    I’m at a loss for words. I can go on and on about what they should or shouldn’t have done, but I won’t.
    The only thing I will add is the game plan was dumb from jump street. They tried to stop the pick and roll and rotate to the shooters. IMPOSSIBLE. They should have just stayed with the shooters. In all the times they played the SUNS they stopped all the shooters and let AMARE go crazy. I don’t know why they changed the plan for this series? Everyone says this is a different SUNS team but they really aren’t. It was the SPURS that were different. LEt’s keep it real, all year the SPURS had inconsistent shooting. It’s not that surprising that no other player besides the BIG 3 stepped up. Hill does get a pass cuz he’s still learning.
    There I got it out of my system.

    I’ve been saying since two years ago, the SPURS need shooters, hopefully they finally get some.

    Technically it aint over but well you know…………….

    Congrats to the SPURS for even making it this far and beating the MAVS when we all doubted you going in.

    I do hope the SUNS beat LA. But the worst thing about the SPURS losing is that the SUNS won’t even make it interesting. NO WAY DRAGIC does this in Staples CENTER.

    Peace out.

  • PK

    As a Suns fan, I am not worried about the long term health of your franchise. Easily one of, if not the absolute, best run in the NBA. Wish I could say the same of mine.

    I will take 2 secs to say Suns offense not a gimmick, obviously. Hard for a gimmick to be the most efficient offense 6 years running – in the history of the NBA, the 5 most efficient offenses were all run by Steve Nash. It is fundamental pick-and-roll offense, done better than anyone has ever done it. (There are worse threats to basketball purists: e.g., Nuggets iso-iso-iso offense)

    But the Spurs were/are always able to figure out how to unplug that offense, which is what makes this match-up so much fun, and for me, heart-breaking. Should any team be able to come back from 0-3, it is this franchise.

    And let’s be honest: there are, and always will be, a lot more teams trying to be like the Spurs than the Suns.

    Congratulations on a dominant decade. I expect you to have another one coming. I hope my team is able to be there with yours, making this a true rivalry for years to come.

    Also, you had better lose one of the next four games. Thanks.

  • SunsRule

    @ Jordan

    Spoken like a true Spurs fan. Everything in your bitter description has an excuse when it comes to the Suns. Their offence is good, but they are shooting high percentage. Their defense isnt good because we miss open shots. Guess what, defense is about letting other guys beat you. As someone mentioned, you dont see Collins guarding Parker or Ginobli at the pt line right. Spurs D was Horrible last night because they had no clue what to do and kept switching, and the Suns made them pay. No need to hate. The biggest advantage in this series is the Suns bench, and the fact that Gentry has confidence in them. The Spurs ran out of gas mid second quarter and mid third quarter and their bench contributes nothing.

  • Jim Henderson

    Hobson13
    May 8th, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Timothy Varner
    May 8th, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Let me ask you both a question: Who the hell are we going to get for RJ, especially before NEXT years trade deadline, chop liver? The idea is to trade someone that you really don’t want to trade (someone that has significant value to others) so that they’ll be willing to send you somebody they don’t really want to trade, and is somebody we REALLY want, and NEED. Now, I’m not thrilled about the prospects of trading TP, but who the hell else has the capacity to yield us something back that’s truly worthwhile?

  • Sam

    I’m a Suns fan of 30+ years and have grown to despise certain rival franchises but the Spurs are definitely not one of them.
    I appreciate the quality of their play on both ends and the lack of media drama exhibited by the players….Manu’s on court theatrics aside.
    San Antonio is truly a class organization in my opinion.
    I do think Pop has been outcoached this series and that the Spurs bench is eerily Dantoni-ish.

    While RJ has proven to be a bad fit what seems most apparent to me is the lack of defensive help TD has in the paint. Sure the way the Suns space the floor hurts but the Spurs just seem softer in the middle in general….Spurs need a Milsap/Bass type of big. Somebody younger than Antonio McD.
    Anyway, it’s bittersweet watching this go down. I’m glad the Suns are playing so well and look to be advancing…but I’d much rather see the Lakers or Mavs get beat up like this not the Spurs.

  • Hobson13

    Jim Henderson
    May 8th, 2010 at 10:04 am
    “Let me ask you both a question: Who the hell are we going to get for RJ, especially before NEXT years trade deadline, chop liver? Now, I’m not thrilled about the prospects of trading TP, but who the hell else has the capacity to yield us something back that’s truly worthwhile?”

    I know what you are saying. However, I think if most GM’s really look into the RJ issue they will find that he is not a BAD player, but simply a really bad fit for the Spurs. I really see RJ in the same camp as someone like Corey Maggette if given the proper environment. However, there’s no way we get an All-star caliber player for RJ. I do think we can get maybe two or three decent pieces for him since he would be some serious cap relief for someone.

    The Spurs office should let everyone know that we are either trading RJ in the summer or simply letting him fall off the books. None of this February trade deadline bullshit. We need time to implement these pieces into our team and 3 months won’t work. Will this attitude work? Who knows.

    I also agree that Parker is our best trade asset. However, we better get an offer we can’t refuse if we trade Parker. I mean an All star caliber player AT LEAST. We can’t sell TP down the river for a bunch of nobodies.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Jesse Blanchard

    Since Tim brought up my stance I thought I’d just qualify it with this–I enjoy the Phoenix Suns. I love Steve Nash, he’s probably my favorite non-Spurs player. I have the SSOL book, which was a great read.

    I just didn’t, and still struggle to, see this as a rivalry–especially in comparison with our battles with the Lakers and Mavericks.

    Even now, Suns fans might see this series victory as some great apex of achievement. It’s made great not because of where they will be advancing, but who they beat to get there. For me, I have no feelings of ill-will towards the Phoenix Suns for their victory. I don’t like or enjoy them any less for having beat us. Instead of any emotional reaction towards the Suns, there’s only a disappointment that the Spurs were not a good enough team this year.

    That being said, naturally if in the unlikely event the Spurs come back and play the cruelest joke on the Phoenix Suns, no story in NBA blogging history would be more fun to write. And when this series plays out to its more logical conclusion, I’ll likely express my appreciation for Phoenix as well.

    Congrats to Goran Dragic. Bruce Bowen or Robert Horry you are not.

  • SunsRule

    RJ would be a great fit in Phoenix. Unfortunately, he doesn’t fit the Spurs game. RJ is very athletic and needs to play in a fastbreak type of style. That’s why he was so good in the Nets when he played with Kidd.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Jesse Blanchard

    @ Jim Henderson
    This is a point which has been repeated ad nauseum since the trade deadline which you seem to miss, and I’m not being rude or anything but:

    Salary cap space and expiring contracts are a premium in the NBA. Teams trade viable rotation players for nothing ALL THE TIME.

    -Bulls trade John Salmons for Joe Alexander and Hakim Warrick
    -The Knicks ditched Nate Robinson, Jordan Hill and swapping 1st round picks with Houston for the corpse of Tracy McGrady’s career (i.e. his expiring contract)
    -Utah gave Ronnie Brewer and Eric Maynor away for luxury tax relief.
    -Washington got rid of Antawn Jamison
    -Butler and Haywood for Howard I suppose is a wash.
    -The Spurs got Richard Jefferson for nothing (okay, so it was a good idea at the time)
    -Golden State sent Stephen Jackson for nothing.
    -Denver got Afflalo for cash
    -the Mavs got Marion for nothing
    -Cleveland got Shaq for Ben Wallace
    -Orlando got Vince Carter
    -Atlanta-Jamal Crawford for Speedy Claxton
    -the Wizards got Foye AND Mike Miller (better idea at the time)
    -Thunder-Sefolosha
    -Realistically, the Pistons traded Chauncey for cap space (that just happened to be Iverson)
    -Pau Gasol-Lakers

    The 76ers tried dumping Iggy and Dalembert last season for cap space. So there are more options out there than you’d think.

    In an ideal world, all trades would be based on talent-for-talent merit. But finances will always play a role.

  • John Carr

    @ Timothy V

    The only thing that has even come close to making me feel better about this train wreck of a series is closing my blinds, turning off all the lights, and crying in my room to Morrissey…

  • td4life

    RJ is about to be traded from his 3rd team… will a GM REALLY think he is a peak performer in his prime? The best case is getting a star who wants out from a bad team looking to rebuild, but unfortunately most teams won’t be looking for cap room (they all wanted it for THIS SUMMER, not next summer), though some may wish to cut payroll and would like RJ’s expiring? I hope!

    The spurs need A LOT of pieces. Giving up TP (who would otherwise be an IDEAL 6th man for this (or any, and thus very desirable) team) is the best shot we have to make us competitive. Maybe we draft well again, maybe DB develops into a star (I don’t see Pop helping him there, but maybe I’m wrong), may Splitter signs and turns out great, but beyond all that, I don’t know who the Spurs can acquire.
    I don’t love TP as the Spurs’ starting playmaker, but as a scorer and ball-handler he makes us a better team in the short-term, I’d trade him… but for what?

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Timothy Varner

    @John Carr

    Or Nancy Sinatra…

  • Mel

    I find it so fascinating the way the Spurs are crumbling before our very own eyes. lol

  • agutierrez

    Folks who know a helluva lot more about b-ball than I keep talking about RJ not fitting into the Spurs system and how he’d probably work somewhere else. But what kind of NBA player at the wing cannot hit a wide-open 15 footer?
    More importantly: folks, we’re in the middle of a paradigm shift. The Tim Duncan era is over. It was great while it lasted. He is where the Admiral was when Timmy came to the Spurs. Can TD continue to be a key piece of Spurs’ success for 2 or 3 or even 4 more years? Probably. But he cannot be the centerpiece. Until Pop and the FO realize this and make appropriate paradigm adjustments, we will be limited in how far we can go in the rugged Western conference.

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  • JesseFromPhoenix

    Sorry, you guys don’t have a ref controlling the outcome of the game (remember, the one who is no longer a ref,) or your regular henchmen, (Robert Horry and Bruce Bowen.) It seems to me that when the scales are balanced, that the Suns are just the better team. So all of you haters, grab your dustpans and quit whining about bad calls. That’s the f*@$ing last thing a Spurs fan should be chatting about. And for those of you not hating on the my team, thank you for your class and sportsmanship. The Suns are playing really, really well right now. Period.

  • CornFlakes

    @JesseFromPhoenix

    I’m a diehard Suns fan, and I’m saying you need to watch yourself. Yes, the Suns are in a commanding 3-0 lead, but I will never, ever count out the Spurs until the Suns win FOUR games, not THREE.

    I haven’t seen a single Spurs fan here complaining about bad calls. Amar’e got a bad clip on Parker, but that’s the worst I’ve seen all series. Seriously, after seeing our fanbase, as a whole, complain for the last three-four years about bad calls (Amar’e-Diaw suspension, anyone), we shouldn’t bag on other teams for taking beef with bad calls.

    Suns are running a red-hot, well-oiled machine. They know fully well Game 4 is no time to rest. I predict a close, high-scoring game, but the Suns will finish it out in SA.

    As for the Lakers… excuse me if I don’t share the same confidence that the rest of the Suns fanbase does. Lakers, with home court advantage and twice the size that we have, is the most fearsome match-up for the Suns in the playoffs. But, it’ll take a lot to ground this Suns team now.

  • Jim Henderson

    Hobson13
    May 8th, 2010 at 10:22 am

    “I think if most GM’s really look into the RJ issue they will find that he is not a BAD player, but simply a really bad fit for the Spurs. I really see RJ in the same camp as someone like Corey Maggette if given the proper environment. However, there’s no way we get an All-star caliber player for RJ. I do think we can get maybe two or three decent pieces for him since he would be some serious cap relief for someone.”

    Maybe, but lets look at a few facts. Number one, RJ’s problems go beyond just, not “being a good fit”. He’s lost his confidence, as well. Now maybe he can get it back, maybe not, but nevertheless, that reduces his value to other GM’s. Number two, if he’s a bad fit on our team, he’s not a very good fit on a lot of other teams also. Our system is more accommodating to a particular players strengths & weaknesses than most people on here give it credit for. So, what are there, maybe 20% of the teams in the league where RJ is very good fit with? If so, out of those six teams, who has a NEED for a player like him, and do they have someone decent that they’re willing to give up (and the financial aspect works) that could really make our team better? It seems to me that whittles that 6 potential teams down to practically nothing, unless we get really questionable pieces in return. At this point, we might think that those questionable pieces might be worth it, but whether that ends up making us much better is a BIG FAT “if”.

    “I also agree that Parker is our best trade asset. However, we better get an offer we can’t refuse if we trade Parker. I mean an All star caliber player AT LEAST. We can’t sell TP down the river for a bunch of nobodies.”

    How about in a sign & trade deal straight up for David Lee? The Knicks have big bucks to spend, but because their team’s on the mend, they could use a deal for Parker to lure a stud like Bosh to go to NY. Then, use RJ’s expiring to try and get a decent point to help replace some of what we’ll miss from TP being gone, and hopefully Hill’s ready to take his game to another level in the next couple of years. Just an idea. I’d rather get more of a shot-blocker, and develop Blair for more minutes at the PF spot, WITH and without Duncan in the line-up at the same time. I know Blair can develop that mid-range jumper. He should be doing what Hill did last summer, taking thousands of outside jumpers, only focus even more so on the mid-range, not the three, of course (not yet, anyway!).

    SunsRule
    May 8th, 2010 at 10:47 am

    “RJ would be a great fit in Phoenix.”

    Actually, that’s one of a handful of teams where RJ would be a better fit with. But would you/could you absorb his contract, and if interested at all, what would you be willing to give up on your roster in a trade for him?

    Jesse Blanchard
    May 8th, 2010 at 11:03 am

    First, most of the examples you listed were for deals at the trade deadline. Obviously RJ’s value goes up some at the point. I already conceded as much. Second, there were GOOD, and very specific, even unique reasons in some respects, that some of those types of deals go through. I’m not going to bother taking the time to explain it to you (e.g., “Utah gave Ronnie Brewer and Eric Maynor away for luxury tax relief..” – ACTUALLY, they also got a draft pick, and the GRIZZ were very lucky to get Brewer, otherwise I’m sure we would have gotten him, unless we simply couldn’t offer as good of a draft pick). And actually, out of all the deals of this type that teams would want to be consummated, VERY FEW get done, for reasons very similar as to why we are unlikely to get something reasonable back for RJ’s expiring in the OFF-SEASON. If we’re lucky, at the trade deadline, but as Hobson13 suggests, WHO WANTS TO WAIT UNTIL THEN. One of the reasons Dallas lost to us is because they simply didn’t have enough time to FULLY assimilate Butler & Haywood so that the ENTIRE team fits together like a glove – and that’s what it takes to get to the Conference or NBA finals.

    “The 76ers tried dumping Iggy and Dalembert last season for cap space. So there are more options out there than you’d think.”

    You keep wanting to cling to rumors from the blogosphere on this. Sure the 76er’s wanted cap space, but the reason the deal didn’t go through was not because Iggy/Dalembert had so little interest, it was because the Sixers rightly determined that they weren’t getting enough back for them (in either less expensive players that that deemed might be worth keeping, or cap relief), and that apparently includes an offer from the Suns for Amare Stoudemire (who has a LARGE expiring/opt out contract coming up) AND Barbosa (an explosive scorer), and they still turned it down! For many teams it’s not JUST about acquiring expirings for cap space, and they certainly aren’t going to absorb a HUGE contract for an ENTIRE SEASON to do it.

    agutierrez
    May 8th, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    VERY solid points. Well said!

  • Hobson13

    “Maybe, but lets look at a few facts. Number one, RJ’s problems go beyond just, not “being a good fit”. He’s lost his confidence, as well.”

    I agree that at this point in his career, RJ has some mental problems. However, wouldn’t a GM figure that a change of scenery would remedy much of that? Afterall, he didn’t have any issues last year in Milwaukee. Secondly, he needs to go to a faster paced team that won’t make him 5th option, which is essentially what he became in SA (behind the Big 3 and Hill). Would RJ ever be a $15 mill player? Hell no, but someone would be getting a decent player and a heap of cap relief.

    “How about in a sign & trade deal straight up for David Lee?”

    I’m very mixed on this suggestion. Lee was one of a handful of players to average 20/10. However, he did this while playing for an uptempo, no defense, Mike D’antoni 7 seconds or less team. Can he produce numbers even remotely close to these on a slower team more focused on defense?? Will Lee really be able to help Duncan in the low post while being only 6’9″? He certainly isn’t a shot blocker. I don’t pretend to have the answers to this question, but they are VERY important ones. If Lee really is Carlos Boozer-like then sign me up. I would trade Parker for a slightly younger Boozer any day of the week.

  • Jim Henderson

    Hobson13
    May 8th, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    “However, wouldn’t a GM figure that a change of scenery would remedy much of that?”

    Maybe, but if you’re a GM, do you want to pay some guy 15 million so that he can miss big shot after big shot in a crucial, must-win second round playoff game. That adds risk to the deal, and lowers RJ’s value. I don’t think he’s going to get a lot of takers in the off-season; not at that salary.

    “If Lee really is Carlos Boozer-like then sign me up. I would trade Parker for a slightly younger Boozer any day of the week.”

    Sorry, I was speaking of Blair, not Lee. That’s why I would never trade Blair. I’m not sold on the Lee idea in the least. I do think he would produce well in our system, but I don’t think it’s a “great fit”. As I said, I’d prefer help at center, and a shot-blocker, and work at developing Blair a bit faster. I think he’s a quick study. Obviously he’ll need a few years to have a shot at getting close to Boozer, but I firmly believe he’s got a shot at it (the big thing will be to develop the mid-range jumper, and then work at developing that step-back fade away, and defensively learn how to not foul, while getting good at “stripping” the shooter down low – but the talent & attitude is there in spades). He’s special, and we’ve been too content with nursing him along this year. Show confidence in him and leave his feet in the fire for LONGER stretches. This 2-4 minutes a pop stuff just ain’t gonna cut it.

  • http://bikernetmetric.com misteradiant

    “Congrats to Goran Dragic. Bruce Bowen or Robert Horry you are not.”

    thank god.

  • Hobson13

    @Jim,

    I agree with your assessment of Blair. Like Hill last year, Blair got his feet wet this year by playing some decent minutes in the regular season. He really needs to spend quite a bit of time with Chip Engelland (sp?) this summer to get his mid range shot down. He also needs to cut down on the stupid rookie fouls (which will come with time) which will improve his court time. Early this next year, Pop just needs to leave him on the floor and let him sink or swim. Thats the only way he’ll really mature. Once he’s finally groomed, he should cause quite a bit of trouble for opposing bigs.

  • ribanez

    Not a chance the Spurs win 4 in a row against the Suns

  • Blentzen

    I STILL BELIEVE!!!!! 2010 THE YEAR OF THE SPURS!!!!! GO SPURS GO!!!!!

  • Patrick M

    Yes, Goran Dragic is not Bruce “Lee” Bowen or Robert “Hip Check” Horry. Nor does he wish to be.

  • ghost of Darko

    Spurs fans: it’s time to recognize…you’ve had a sustained run of excellence…and it is OVER. Tim Duncan has been a tremendous player and his day as the centerpiece of a championship-caliber team is done. There isn’t an alternative No. 1 on the roster, nor is there one on the horizon.

    The Spurs next moves will be key in determining what the next decade of Spurs basketball portends. It’s helpful to keep in mind how this past decade of Spurs excellence came together. A championship-caliber team lost its MVP center (David Robinson), cratered & fell into the lottery – which yielded another MVP (Duncan). The Spurs are no longer at the point where tweaking around the edges will be sufficient to compete at the highest level. A similar Duncan-like addition of talent will be required.

    Yes, Parker is the most valuable trade-able asset. I don’t think he’ll buy you much. It’s questionable whether you could get equal value & highly unlikely you’d make your team better. The whole league witnessed Jefferson’s performance – good luck unloading that contract. Short of lottery nirvana, the remaining alternatives are limited. The best course: ride out Duncan & Ginobili’s contracts, then start over. You’ll be a 1st/2nd round playoff team at best; at worst – lottery.

    At this point, the Spurs past looks a lot brighter than its future. The end of any dynasty is never pretty. Some crucial upcoming decisions could make the coming dark days an extended nightmare or a short period of discomfort. I suspect the former to be the more likely outcome.

  • ghost of Darko

    also, I neglected to mention the Spurs are in a precarious salary cap position. Peter Holt is already paying significant luxury tax dollars. it’s an open question whether he wants to go deeper into the tax in the hopes of improving the team – especially given the way he got burned by the Jefferson investment.

  • G-man

    The suns need to deafeat us just as many times as we beat them in the playoffs to get me to respect them. Any way I must say this was one of the worst defensive playoff series I’ve ever seen and I think Bruce bowens departure was one of the main reasons why this season we were left scratching our heads. Also I don’t blame rj for our season we should have known better to spend, I mean waste so much money on this guy. Why do you think he was with the bucks??? I had no great expectations from this guy to begin with and if we need to blame some one we should blame ourselves(rc Buford). Bring David lee trust me he will fit in just as good as gasol for the lakers. I hope we don’t pass on this opportunity cause we will be seeing the same thing next year. We are in need of a serious trade and from our big 3 and I hope it’s not Manu. Options…bosh,Chris Paul,David lee, maybe ricky rubio. Maybe he can get this offense rolling again. I am positive next year well be a better defensive and offensive team. Go spurs go ps. Hope the lakers sweep the suns, nash and Amari will never be champions.

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