Making sense of Tiago Splitter’s lack of playing time

by

This post was originally published on December 20. On December 21 it was updated with new information and some dates were corrected with the help of Rodrigo Alves who covers Olympic sports and basketball for the Brazilian sports site Globoesporte.com.

There’s been some confusion in our comments and on Twitter as to why Tiago Splitter hasn’t seen as many minutes as the San Antonio Spurs, and their fans, would like. Allow me to do my best to explain.

There are two primary reasons why Splitter is only averaging 11.2 minutes per game so far this season, and both of those reasons are connected.

The first is because of the schedule Splitter has undertaken over the last few months. Splitter’s final season with Caja Laboral ended on June 15 with an ACB League title over FC Barcelona.

The Brazilian Men’s National Team opened up training camp on June 24 and went until July 8 in Sao Paulo. According to Rodrigo Alves, this training camp was for the South American Championship, and only three players who appeared at the FIBA World Championships were present.

On July 12, Splitter signed a contract with the Spurs and was in San Antonio to finalize the deal. Brazil opened training camp to prepare for the FIBA World Championships on July 19 and on July 27, after finalizing things in San Antonio and getting married, Splitter joined his teammates in Rio De Janeiro.

On August 7 and 8, Brazil took part in the Super Four Basketball Tournament, where Splitter was injured in the team’s first game with a left thigh bruise. Just a few days later, from August 12-15, the Brazilian National Team was in New York City for the World Basketball Festival. There, they played a outdoor scrimmage against the Puerto Rican National Team at Rucker Park.

A couple days later, Brazil played a pair of friendly matches in Logrono, Spainto prepare for the Worlds. On August 16 Brazil took on Argentina and the next day they faced-off against the Spanish National Team. Later that week, Brazil played in the Villeurbanne International Tournament in Lyon, France against France (on August 20), Australia (August 22), Ivory Coast (August 23) and France for a second time (August 24). Splitter played with his Brazilian teammates in the games in France.

On August 28, Brazil played their first game of the FIBA World Championships. Splitter played a total of six games in the tournament, with Brazil’s final game coming on September 7. Apparently in Brazil’s fourth game of the tournament, against Slovenia, Splitter suffered an injury to his right thigh (previous injury was in the left thigh). The injury bother him the rest of the tournament, and even resulted in Splitter coming off the bench in the knockout round against Argentina.

On September 27, the San Antonio Spurs held media day, where Splitter was present. The next day, the team kicked-off training camp and Splitter got his first real taste of playing with the team and learning the system. Unfortunately for Splitter and the Spurs, the big man was injured just two days later on September 30.

That’s a lot of travel and basketball over the summer, at a time when players rest their bodies and work on their game. There’s also two injuries in that span that are probably related to the busy schedule.

“He had some things break down while he was in Europe and then he came here and had the problem with his calf,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said earlier in the season. “I think all in all, his body is probably just telling him to take a break.

“So we don’t want to bring him back and stick him out there for an inordinate amount of time.”

Splitter missed most of training camp, valuable learning time that he is unable to recreate with the season underway.

“Missing training camp really hurt,” Coach Pop said. “There’s so many things that I’d like to do during the game that he’s not going to know what exactly he should be doing.”

I chatted with Memphis Grizzlies assistant coach Barry Hecker before the Spurs’ win on Saturday night about a number of things. Speaking about player development, Hecker talked about how little NBA teams get a chance to practice, saying that there’s almost no 5-on-5 scrimmaging during the season, especially for a veteran team like the Spurs.

Coach Pop agrees with Hecker’s assesment.

“Practices in the NBA aren’t what you might want them to be or as available or often as one would like,” Popovich said.

With no time to practice during the season, it’s almost impossible for Splitter to catch up on the things he missed. And if there’s anything we’ve learned from Gregg Popovich over the years, it’s that he values corporate knowledge.

Watching Splitter out on the floor, mainly on the offensive end, you can see why his playing time is limited. While he shows flashes of the basketball IQ that draws comparisons to Fabricio Oberto, he sometimes appears lost on the offensive end. In these moments, he resembles a five-year-old playing soccer, just following the ball from player-to-player.

Granted, a lot of his job description includes setting picks for the player with the ball, but the timing for those picks isn’t the same that Tim Duncan, DeJuan Blair, Antonio McDyess and Matt Bonner have.

Splitter will slowly learn the system as the season goes on, playing a little at a time and watching film to correct mistakes. But the learning curve is steep and one that can’t be conquered without some good, old fashioned practice time. Unfortunately for the Spurs, we may not see how effective Splitter can truly be for San Antonio until next season.

“I can’t just go and experiment and give him 30 minutes to get him going,” Coach Pop said. “It’s not fair to him or to the whole group.

“It’s just got to happen slowly and we’ll see what’s required as far as the team is concerned because that’s what I have to look at.”

  • DBAGuy

    I agree with bringing him up to speed slowly. The issue I have is that he hasn’t done anything extraordinary with the time he has gotten. Even if he still needs to learn the offensive strategies, he could help on the boards which he isn’t good at. The few post processions he’s had, he’s gotten pushed around by bigger guys. To give the guy some credit, he has done very well running the PnR.

  • BOSS

    All of that is fine and dandy but we all know to compete with LA, Dallas, and Boston we need another true 7 footer (besides Timmy) to get minutes b/c as much as i love our team Bonner and Blair will be over matched by those teams Splitter is our only hope of over coming those match-ups. We can survive the regular season without much impact from him but playoff basketball is a whole different story. So hopefully he will develope into a 15-20 minute a night guy come playoff time and then we can really be serious about getting ring #5. Just my personal opinion.

  • cruzan gold

    Great article– clears my confusion over Splitter’s playing time. You have shed light upon my dim wit.

  • idahospur

    Many of us were concerned as Blair didn’t receive much time last year but he has turned out to be very valuable this year.
    Thanks for this reporting. I didn’t want to find out that Splitter and Pop or whomever were not getting along and that’s why Splitter is sitting.
    I just hope we can get him knowing the system come playoffs, he will be needed.
    Just keep on winning and I won’t question Pop.

  • junierizzle

    NO 5-0n-5 scrimmages???? I thought that was practice??????

    Well, I’ll buy that reason. As long as it isn’t because TIAGO just stinks then I’m good.

  • Tyler

    Good post.

    I think it’s hard for people to fathom just how hard playing at that level is on your body. And that’s especially true in the NBA. The constant travel and playing over 82 games magnifies even the smallest of aches. Depending on the individual, it might take over a month or more to recover from that kind of abuse. There’s a reason rookies hit a wall after a certain point – their bodies aren’t used to the pounding.

    Having said that, now that he’s fully healthy, I expect Tiago to get more and more minutes (and hopefully limiting TD’s minutes even more). The silver lining to the situtation is that we have another 7fter that has yet to be acclimated. If he does figure it out, we should be that much better.

  • Greyberger

    I disagree with the comment that Tiago hasn’t shown us much in his limited time.

    In two parts of the NBA game Splitter is measurably great. First he’s a superb at getting offensive rebounds. He’s also very good at drawing fouls and getting to shoot free throws. He’s just not great at shooting them (yet).

    There are probably harder-to-measure things that Pop likes out of Tiago as well.

  • Bob

    I have to agree with BOSS. To compete with LA, Dallas, or Boston in a grindout playoff series we’re going to need Splitter. Bonner and Blair probably won’t be enough.

  • DieHardSpur

    Would anyone be interested in a trade of Blair for Varajao? I know the salaries probaby dont match, but I would be willing to see Curly-Q in some silver and black…

  • The Beat Counselor

    Greyberger brings up a good point, Tiago does get to the free throw line a lot. The nice thing is if he could just improve his FT shooting (which would require 5 on 5 drills), it would be a significant plus.

    I just finished watching the ’07 Finals again and I can confidently say that Oberto just visually seems like much smoother player than Tiago. Splitter’s got a little herky-jerkiness to him.

    It’s hard for me to imagine Splitter not living up to his hype knowing he was the number one option over Varejao and Nene on the Brazilian team.

  • The Beat Counselor

    *would NOT require 5 on 5 drills.

    Oops.

  • av

    Maybe the thing to do is to send him to the D-League for a couple of weeks. I know it sounds like a step back but he will be able to get a lot more playing time and get used to the system.

  • Hollywood Jones

    But what about the recent comments by Pop, hinting that Splitter would play more if he wasn’t injured so often?

    I think this article would be more appropriate 3 weeks ago, but now I think the situation is more complex.

  • ThatBigGuy

    @ DieHardSpur

    Varejao is making $7.2 million. We’d have to send away 2 bigs (Blair and Dice/Bonner) and a guard (Hill or Anderson). A 3 for 1 deal would kill our depth, which is one of our greatest strengths.

    We’re 23-3 even though our 2 recent first round draft picks have been injured/resting. No need to rock the boat.

  • DBAGuy

    I really do hope he’s holding back and that Pop is making him hold back. I mean the guy was MVP for goodness sakes, and also talked about being the best big guy in Europe. They can’t all be crazy… maybe these hopes are just the fanboy in me talking :)

  • ITGuy

    @Bob
    I also agree with BOSS, so PLEASE everybody, stop saying that to compete with LA, Dallas, and Boston we need another true 7 footer.

    This same comment gets posted on every article!

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • The Beat Counselor

    The main issue with sending Splitter to the D-League is that we don’t want to wreck Tiago’s confidence or any chemistry he may have already established with the team (although just from observing him on the bench, he doesn’t score anywhere close to Gary Neal or Chris Quinn in the cheerleader on the bench power rankings).

    I don’t have any numbers to back this up, but I wonder how Tiago’s playing time has been affected by our record. What I mean by this is: since we have been essentially the team with the best or second best record all year, I’m guessing we are seeing less minutes from our opposition’s bench as they would likely be playing the starters extra minutes to try and secure a nice, somewhat meaningful victory. There goes Tiago’s minutes if Pop wants to test him against our opposition’s second unit.

    Since this is a post about Tiago, I’d like to bring up the topic of charges vs. shot blocks.

    Elsewhere on this blog, commenters have discussed the value of taking a charge versus going for a shot block. I believe the discussion left off with: charges are undervalued if one takes into consideration that if the charge is successful, the defensive team gets possession; with shot blocks on the other hand, possession can go either way.

    Fair points, but I’d also like to add that charges are one of the most difficult calls for the referees to make (in other words, possession can go either way), and that going for the shot block also alters many shots and lowers opponents FG% without necessarily ever showing up in a box score.

    Just some things to consider.

  • rj

    i remember reading a quote from pop about “seeing if he’s worth a damn” yikes. but should we expect any lighter sentiment from the most uncensored, vociferous coach in the nba? hardly. u think we arwe going to be forced into playing splitter because of the aformentioned problems of facing heavier teams? splitter needs to get stronger, but the guy is still a mamouth out there. that shoud account against bigger teams.

  • DorieStreet

    OK— What this article tells me is that for Tiago Splitter to fully max out his talent & ability as a San Antonio Spur, he plays no basketball next summer for his national team. I understand home country loyalty and pride, but his employer now is an NBA league franchise. What further proof do we have about basketball beyond the NBA playoffs making you more susceptible to injury than our starting backcourt? Most of the foreign players begin professional play as teenagers, so they have 5-10 years of wear and tear of the game before coming to the States. The Spurs cannot afford to give Splitter the leeway they gave to Tony and Manu to participate in FIBA every year. Allow him to play for Brazil in the 2012 Games in London, and then that should be it. I know franchises can’t put it in the contract, but foreign players’ should understand the big picture- the NBA season is a grind, and their bodies must get a chance to fully recover so that they can perform at their best the following year.

  • mybloodissilverandblack

    Erring to the side of caution. No surprise there.

  • The Beat Counselor

    @DorieStreet

    +10 I agree wholeheartedly.

    Is it true that a team can’t forbid a player to play international ball though? Why not?

  • Daniel T

    DorieStreet:

    I believe the NBA rules do not allow a team from prohibiting a player from competing in international play. I’m not sure just how much encouragement they can provide to not play before they’ve crossed the line and can be fined.

  • Greyberger

    Well, you can tell your players not to, but I don’t think you’re allowed to punish them for playing for their country. That’s probably in the CBA or something that was negotiated between the union and the teams long ago.

    It’s thoroughly complicated. We are basically ‘the’ NBA team for international prospects. If we discourage our guys from playing in international competition it affects our foreign recruitment and relationships with national teams. And we run the risk of discouraging it, creating all these hurt feelings, and the player can still decide “I’m going” and there’s nothing we can do.

    Yes, we sign their checks and they commit to treating the NBA like its the priority. Just because it’s the highest level of basketball doesn’t mean these players don’t see an even higher calling in playing for the national team, however.

  • TD = Best Ever

    I’m just worried that we will be looking at another season of being 1 piece away from a title……….. So we need to do what ever we can TO WIN THIS YEAR!!!!

    And TP and Manu played alot their rookie years – They were only sat down because they made a ton of mistakes……. But there was no injury concern really for either of them………

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  • td4life

    Andrew–

    Thanks for addressing this.

    You seem to be offering two explanations.

    One is injury and rest. I wonder how much rest is enough? Surely these first 26 games of the season were a good starting point against over-exeretion. As I have said I will be looking for him to get involved over the coming middle third of the season, even if his minutes remain low.

    Playing him more with RJ, Parker, TD, Hill, and McD as well as Manu, can help him develop more than playing him with the uninitiated reserves does. You quote Pop as saying that experimenting with 30 mpg wouldn’t be fair to the group, but how about letting these guys “struggle together” regularly in a familiar rotation, and let the group coach him along on the floor… to me, that would be doing the team a favor, in that it gives them the chance to develop a needed asset, and that it is unfair to the guys invloved to go into the playoffs less than fully loaded.

    Which brings me to your second explanation: that he doesn’t know the system. If this is the case, sending him to Austin for a short stint couldn’t hurt him that much, because though it won’t help him with our guys and their collective timing, it offers a chance to practice and accumulate much of the technical corporate knowledge that is missing.

    If it’s truly a combination of both of these things, needing recuperation + needing knowledge, that is a bad mess. But a certain point, you have to put caution aside a little bit, and see what you can get. You bring Bonner’s minutes down a little bit, tweak Blair’s role, and give Tiago more court time with the smartest and best, and you can live with struggling a bit in the regular season if that’s one outcome. It’s doubtful that the Spurs stay at the top of the West all season long anyway, and regular season champs mean very little, ask the Admiral, ask Nash, ask Lebron or Dirk, ask Kobe who has only finished atop the standings once.

    “Unfortunately for the Spurs, we may not see how effective Splitter can truly be for San Antonio until next season.” Unfortunately, indeed… the window for #5 may never be more open than it is THIS SEASON. Yet, Tiago as the 5th big may be what we are stuck with all season long… Andrew, it seems like this is what you are predicting.

    Unfortanately, indeed. But this next 29- 36 game window is a legitimate opportunity.

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    I think Pop has more knowledge of his team and hoops in his pinkie finger than the lot of us….he has guided this team to a 23-3 mark which is WAY beyond expectation, so let’s not second guess Pop because his way is working. Screw, Dallas, LA and Boston…..if you go based on current record, shouldn’t they be worried about how to match up with the Spurs? I mean, give the devil his due but let’s not act like those teams are the end all, be all. The Spurs have achieved this record, not by accident but with a ton of hard work and super human effort every game.

  • Kevin

    Re: Sending him to Austin…

    I hear this suggested often, but I don’t think it would work (especially with the injury/fatigue worries). Even though it would be “learning the system” to some small degree, “the system” very much includes guys like Manu and Tony. Learning the Spurs offense with D-League rejects isn’t going to teach you how to work the O when Manu or Tony (or even GHill) is running point. “The system” is as much about the dynamic players we have (and how to play with them, and to their strengths) as it is some X-and-Os practice. Tiago will have to get comfortable with these guys, and it will take time.

    Maybe a solid offseason (a la RJ) will turn him into a major contributor… but let’s not pretend he’s going for 45 and 15 while holding Dirk to 5 pts in the Western Conference Finals Game 7… at least not this year.

  • DorieStreet

    @ TD=Best Ever

    TP was only 19 when he joined the Spurs; Manu was 25- same as Tiago is now. And I was referring to the cumulative effect of years of playing practically non-stop. Remember Bejing when Manu was injured in the game before the medal round? That was mid-August; 6 weeks later training camp starts, and we know how the season started. I just saying maybe after x number of years playing in the various FIBA tourneys, the older guys ease up- especially after age 30.

  • DBAGuy

    The issue is that we are trying to win this year. The Miami Heat will only get better next year and our window of opportunity shrinks by the day. We need to make sure that we put that 5th ring on Timmy’s finger this year. Does anyone have a link to full game video of Tiago playing in Europe? youtube is very scarce on his highlights…

  • Dr. Who

    “While he shows flashes of the basketball IQ that draws comparisons to Fabricio Oberto, he sometimes appears lost on the offensive end.”

    Be careful those comments are pretty sensitive in this area! :) Wonderul that we have an article to address our new favorite subject. Seesm very logical and what many were thinking here. The conundrum is how to get him his reps and increase corporate knowledge. Manu is one. More time with Manu will do wonders for his confidence and game. But… you can’t upset the applecart and established rotations. We’ll let the brass handle it and hope they do a good job at it. I don’t like that his injuries are calf and then groin. Those are things that tend to linger. I think most agree, as good as our record is comes playoff time we’ll need a guy like Tiago agianst the lenghtier teams in the Western Conf playoffs.

    Kudos to The Beat Counselor for bringing up shot blocking vs. taking charges. Shot blocking is something the team has an immediate need for. Protecting the rim and have an intimidating presence would be perfect for this team. That isn’t Tiago’s game. Drawing charges is and he’s very good at it. No doubt having a skilled 7 footer will pay huge dividends come playoff time but he isn’t going to be the shot blocking enforcer in the middle. I don’t think he’s looked very solid at all for rebounding, but even if his game isn’t all there yet he sure does get to the line and draw charges well; he’s shown to be very very good at this even in this stumbling deer phase. The tough thing with Tiago is that if a defensive strength of his is drawing charges, he’ll get the rookie treament and a no call or blocking since the NBA insists on some stupid veteran exception for many of their calls. Think about this, if Tiago had set his feet in the last seconds against Melo like Manu did to end the Nuggets game, do you actually think the refs would have given Tiago the call? I’m pretty sure that would have been a loss, the Nuggest would have celebrated and Spurs fans would have been disgusted. Just something to chew on. THe more the refs see Tiago and become aware of that aspect of his game, they should respect it. I’m hoping he gets some burn with the first team in spurs during the rodeo trip. Oh yeah and manages to stay healthy!

  • td4life

    DBAGuy–

    “The issue is that we are trying to win [the championship] this year.”

    +1

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  • TD = Best Ever

    @ DBAGuy

    Your entire POST is JUST AWESOME – I feel like some people are trying to bring him along slowly so he can help us down the line – ALL The SCOLA comparisons………….

    Look I like Scola as much as the next guy – But HE WOULDN’T SOLVE OUR PROBLEM either. We need a 7ft big that can DEFEND the paint and PROTECT the RIM……..

    So If SPLITTER is that guy……….GREAT
    IF he isn’t – then make the TRADE!!!!!!!!
    Any Champion should gladly give up Splitter for a chance to win it all now and next year……….. We can rebuild after TIMMY is gone

  • td4life

    TD=BestEver–

    “Any Champion should gladly give up Splitter for a chance to win it all now and next year……….. We can rebuild after TIMMY is gone”

    There will be no trade this year for several reasons covered in these comments over the last 7 months, including the Spurs m.o. and current record. For better or worse, that’s what it is. Further more, the difference-maker you are looking for isn’t available. Most of the guys you would want are either franchise guys or are stacked on the rosters of the Spurs’ rivals. Could you get McGhee if you give up Blair AND Splitter, and take on Josh Howard? Doubtful, and would it better the team at mid-stream, and put them over this year? Also doubtful.

    I understand your frustration about the current window, but we didn’t go after Chandler, or Gortat (Orlando could really use Splitter as a PF, as someone once mentioned), or even Camby. These are the guys we got, and it’s up to them to get the job done. Root for them to come along, or forget about it.

  • Flavor

    There is not a quality big out there that the Spurs can get without cutting the depth of the roster. NOT ONE!!!!! So please, lets stop all this trade b.s.

  • TD = Best Ever

    @ Flavor

    Whats the point of depth if it all Little Guys – WE Don’t have great depth at the 4&5 position because we really only have 2 NBA players, a shooting specialist and 2 Prospects…………. That’s no that deep at all

  • http://www.bolapresa.com.br Danilo

    Popovich sucks hard. He is nothing without TD.

  • Hobson13

    The arguments presented so far are the same that have been talked about since last May when we were bumped out of the playoffs. The big question is: DO WE NEED MORE SIZE? Unless Splitter can absolutely come in and play at a high level, then the answer is a resounding YES. How much longer must we witness Blair and Bonner get beat on the defensive end by bigger and stronger PFs and Cs? Those two guys represent 40% of our Bigs IF you include Splitter (which to this point has been an enigma). With almost 1/3 of the season over, I think we definitely need some help.

    We’ve been able to run and gun so far in the regular season, but as we know, the playoffs are a different animal. How many championships have the Suns won with their run-and-gun model? Two young bigs that are easily and cheaply available are Anthony Randolph and Jason Thompson. Can Randolph actually work in the Spurs lineup? I’m really not sure. However, he could be obtained for a couple of draft picks. This wouldn’t create any issues with our current roster and IMO is a cheap gamble for a 7-footer who can rebound and block shots (although he is definitely on the thin side).

    These options aren’t anything new, but they are certainly worth looking at if our current front line isn’t championship caliber.

  • quincyscott

    Folks that are worried about the Spurs not having enough big men should be concerned about exactly two teams: the Lakers, and the Celtics. Dallas has one really good big in Chandler, but that’s it. I am more concerned about their small ball than I am matching their inside power. Both the Lakers and Celtics have excellent depth and skill at that 4 and 5 position, and Spurs fans are right to be concerned about them.

    Having said that, I do not think the Spurs should make a trade, and I don’t think they will make a trade. Blair is coming along, McDyess and Duncan are being saved for the later stages of the season. Splitter is a work in progress. It’s a long season, and I would be willing to bet that by the end of the year, he will be getting more minutes and/or more production in games. With one third of the season behind us, it is way too early to assess. I think we need to be patient.

    Stepping back a bit from Splitter per se, I have to say how impressed I am with the roster. Really, top to bottom, every player has value and can contribute needed skills. (My only question mark is Ime Udoka. He has not looked good yet. I don’t want to write the man off, but I haven’t seen anything positive as of yet. Please prove me wrong, Ime.)

    The rest of this month will tell us a lot more about where we stand. If we are still sitting on top of the West come January 1, I think we are going to have to start feeling optimistic about this team’s chances, this year. It’s good to remain skeptical until they show what they can do in the playoffs, of course. Can they beat LA or Boston? Can anybody beat LA or Boston? Time will answer that question. But I for one don’t think a trade will improve our chances. I say we ride this team, as it is. I think a healthy big three, a much improved Jefferson, a maturer Hill and Blair, and the added depth and shooting from Anderson and Neal is going to be very hard for anybody to beat in a series. Strange to think that a year and some tweaks could make that big a difference. But there is a lot to be said for giving a team time to develop.

  • lvmainman

    @ Flavor,

    The Spurs have regular season depth but not playoff caliber depth to beat LA, Dallas, or Boston.

    Semih Erden of the Celtics and Omar Asik of the Bulls have shown more than Tiago Splitter(For half the salary). Thanks to injuries to Shaq and Boozer.

    I hope Splitter gets a chance before the trade deadline because the Spurs won’t win a championship relying on Blair and Bonner.

    Otherwise, the Spurs need to add a veteran presence at center like trading for Tony Battie of the 76ers or Ronny Turiaf like the Magic are going to do.

    Can we get Presti to trade Blair for Serge Ibaka straight up? As a favor to the Spurs like the Gasol/Kwame Brown trade for the Fakers?

  • junierizzle

    I keep hearing trade, trade, trade.
    It aint gonna happen people.

    Remember when this Very Blog said they should trade MANU last year???

    POP knows what he is doing.

  • Shawn_b

    WHy not?
    The best way to understand the game is to play the game!
    Especially in blow out game Pop should just let him go without worrying to much!
    I like the idea Blair for Ibaka; Iblocka is a very tough defender around the basket, he will be a huge upgrade. However, I don’t think the Thunder will do it.

  • td4life

    Blair for Ibaka????

    Is that a joke? NO WAY the Thunder make that trade. Memphis got back Kwame and at least the rights to the younger, bigger Gasol, and a ton of expiring cap space to try to sign somebody, cause their status quo prospects were nil. Ibaka is not available for Blair, gimme a break.

    Jason Thompson or Anthony Randolf will not help this year if at all… Splitter is better than those guys if only because of his bb IQ. I don’t think you guys realize how few Ben Wallaces there are compared to the likes of Channing Frye or Charlie Villanueva. We have too many bigs in the 5 we have this year, which is causing a bit of logjam. I’d take somebody like that for draft picks, but I don’t think it would make much of a difference this year, fan bases in Golden State and Sacremento have been asking the same questions we are asking about Splitter, even though their teams were lottery bound either way. And how are we gonna develop some skinny, young, long guy at the same time as the guys we have?

    The ship has left the habor! The writing was on the wall the minute we resigned Matt Bonner.

    There will be no trades this season.

  • Dr. Who

    “quincyscott
    Dallas has one really good big in Chandler, but that’s it. ”

    U might want to check out that Dirk guy. He’s one of the best players in the NBA and he’s kinda tall. Oh yeah and the lats time we played the ponies, he ate our lunch. He does that a lot. If we consider Blair a big we might as well consider Shawn Marion a big. Don’t forget, Haywood didn’t play against us last game. Haywood is a legit player, it took Jim Carey a few playoff losses until he realized Haywood was a much better player against the Spurs than Dumpier. Haywood is a legit starting NBA center, and he comes off the bench for the Mavs. I hate the Mavs but u must at least respect their bigs, much less at least acknowledge they have two on their roster.

  • td4life

    Dr. Who–

    You got that right. Who would you rather have Haywood or any of our 2-5 big men? And Dirk is the MVP so far this year. The streakbusting Mavs just won a defensive contest in Miami… I’m hoping the Magic pull it together enough to hand Dallas a loss tomorrow night, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

    Phoenix has a scrappy team, I wonder if they will pair Gortat and Lopez together in the front court… they have a real shot to make the playoffs over Portland, Memphis, or Houston… and surprise everyone yet again.

  • ribanez

    The Lakers size in the block will overwhelm the Spurs in a 7 game series. In order to have a legtimate chance at knocking them and/or Boston out Tiago’s contribution has to increase as the season progresses. Forget our league best record, come playoff time even with a fresh TD the Spurs will not beat the Lakers or the Celtics without a significant contribution from Splitter. The Spurs need bigs to beat the aforementioned teams. They have improved their perimeter shooting however consider the matchups, Duncan, Blair and Dice against Bynum, Odom and Gasol. or against Garnett, Perkins, Shaquille and Davis. Forgive me but I don’t think the red rocket is even part of the discussion. I am assuming that when the pressure is on he will underperform again! There is no way they can win those matchups without Splitter.

  • Hobson13

    quincyscott
    December 20th, 2010 at 3:59 pm
    “Folks that are worried about the Spurs not having enough big men should be concerned about exactly two teams: the Lakers, and the Celtics. Dallas has one really good big in Chandler, but that’s it.”

    The Mavs have Dirk, Chandler and Haywood. That’s three 3 footers who are NBA caliber starting big men. Come back to reality.

    junierizzle
    December 20th, 2010 at 4:24 pm
    “I keep hearing trade, trade, trade.
    It aint gonna happen people.
    Remember when this Very Blog said they should trade MANU last year???”

    Trading a few draft picks for a decent prospect at the 4 or 5 spot is hardly in the same class as trading Manu.

    td4life
    December 20th, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    “Jason Thompson or Anthony Randolf will not help this year if at all.”

    What makes you say that? These two are very talented young prospects who have shown very nice potential when given adequate minutes.

    “There will be no trades this season.”

    Let me revise my previous statement. Either we need Splitter to really show he can play or we need a trade. If neither of these things happen, our quest for a 5th ring may come to an abrupt end at the hands of either the Lakers or the Mavs.

  • DBAGuy

    I don’t think we need a trade, we just need to get Tiago playing. We barely even play McDyess as it is and we have been winning. We need our bigs for defense mainly, not scoring, most of our scoring in coming in via other ways, each night a different player steps up and this is great for us. Theres is so much potential, last year at this time we were mediocre and finished playing excellent basketball, we are now playing great, imagine come playoff time what we’ll be like…

  • BigJ

    Nice article Andrew.

    I have to post this. Here’s Chris Sheridan’s answer to a posted question on his chat today…

    Shane (Louisville,KY)

    Is Tim Duncan the best PF ever? If not, why and who is?
    Chris Sheridan
    (2:20 PM)

    I am partial to Karl Malone in that argument. In his prime, he was unstoppable at a level Duncan has only scratched.

    I’m all for differences of opinion, but Sheridan sounds like an idiot here when he says “at a level Duncan has only scratched.”

    That is complete nonsense. As nonsensical as Malone taking 20 foot jumper after 20 foot jumper in the play off’s instead of driving the lane for a monster bucket or to get fouled for free throws.

    Andrew, are you close enough to Sheridan to either get a clarification here or to bop in the head for stupidity’s sake?