The San Antonio Spurs and the buyout market
The trade deadline has come and gone, but the transactions won’t stop for another week or so. The rule is these guys need to be waived by their current team by March 1 to be playoff roster eligible. In reality, the week coming up is probably more important than the trade deadline. Over the last few days, guys like Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih have reached buyout agreements with their teams. Other names like Danny Granger and Caron Butler are rumored to be headed that way.
The Spurs have been linked to Granger and Davis (now a member of the Los Angeles Clippers), and Peace’s brother linked Metta and the Spurs on Twitter. San Antonio recently added Austin Daye in a trade for Nando De Colo, bringing a little bit of balance to the roster. However, whether it’s Stephen Jackson or Tracy McGrady, the Spurs have liked adding veterans at or after the trade deadline. The Spurs have one roster spot available to make a signing if they choose to do so.
There’s no doubt the Spurs roster lacks a true back up small forward, but with everyone getting healthy there’s a question of whether someone like Granger or Metta would be completely necessary for the Spurs’ stretch run. Before everyone broke or strained something, head coach Gregg Popovich moved Danny Green to the bench in favor of Marco Belinelli. This allowed Green to play as much small forward as shooting guard with the second unit.
We don’t know whether Green will go back to the bench when the Spurs are totally healthy (I’m just assuming Belinelli will start while Tony Parker heals his various maladies for the sake of offensive fire power).
Defensively, the Spurs starting unit of Parker, Green, Leonard, Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter has been a wrecking ball the last season and a half. However, at the start of this season, that same unit only had an offensive rating in the low 90s. That could change moving forward. Green, Leonard and Duncan all had slow starts to the season. Green’s offense has stabilized since, Duncan’s shooting numbers went way up after the start of the season and Leonard’s offense was really starting to get going before the hand injury. So don’t dismiss last year’s starting line up finishing out this season.
If that happens then it would absolutely make sense to add some size to the second unit. When the Spurs wings were going down like bad guys at the end of an ’80s action movie, we saw Marco Belinelli struggle, and I think that had a lot to do with the fact that he was expending so much energy guarding bigger guys. Having a Metta or Granger in there would help on that front. It would also help the Spurs go with a more mobile unit, but maintain some size and length if they chose to play either at the power forward. Signing one of the buyout forwards isn’t a mandatory move. It would certainly help spread the minutes around, help keep guys for fresh for the playoffs, but the Spurs could manage without.
A late season addition to the Spurs would likely be much more about the end of the regular season than it would the postseason. Pop showed last year he was perfectly comfortable going into the playoffs and riding Leonard for close to 40 minutes per game. Still, having an extra body to keep everyone’s minutes down wouldn’t be a terrible idea. Bottom line, treat this transaction period like the trade deadline. Don’t expect the Spurs to sign someone, but don’t be surprised if they do.