Fix-A-Team: The San Antonio Spurs
Remember The Alamo? Its time to blow that thang up.
by Eddie Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan
Note: When each second round Playoff team bows out, we will feature a “Fix-a-Team” post, which identifies the team’s key strengths and weaknesses. Where are the opportunities to take this team to the next level and who are the key threats to their ascension? For my business colleagues, you will recognize this as a SWOT analysis. Today, we review the San Antonio Spurs.
In what is turning into a pandemic like what they were slanging on ‘The Wire,’ the almighty sweep hit the San Antonio Spurs first. If you would’ve asked me which series is most likely to not be a sweep, I easily pick Suns/Spurs. We all know the background; the Spurs have OWNED the Suns this decade. They’ve beaten them every way imaginable, they out-hustled them, they out-coached them, they out-cheated them (looking at you Robert Horry), and to have the Spurs fall on their proverbial backside in such a fashion is unimaginable.
With that being said, the season is over. You’ve got to move on to next year. How can the Spurs be fixed? I have an idea or two.
The “Big Three” of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker have been as solid of a core as the Association has ever seen. The Spurs have arguably one of the top-three coaches in the League in Gregg Popovich, and they have young talent in George Hill and DeJuan Blair. That brings some optimism to San Antonio. And the biggest strength of this team is their chemistry. They’ve been playing together for so long that it’s ridiculous.
The problem of the “Big Three” is that they’ve been playing for an extremely long time. It has been eight years now (Ginobili came into the League in ‘02-03), and they are not getting any younger. When the ‘10-11 season starts, Duncan will be 34, Ginobili will be 33, and Parker will be 28. Plus, you’ve got to wonder how much spark Popovich is bringing to the bench nowadays. Bigger problem? How about cap space? Yeah, they don’t have any whatsoever. That horrendous signing of Richard Jefferson has them locked up with a core seven of: Duncan, Manu, Parker, RJ, McDyess, Hill, and Blair. Those seven players combined make up $66 million in payroll. The proposed ‘10-11 cap? $56 million. Yikes.
Here’s where Spurs General Manager RC Buford earns his paycheck, because he’s already $10 million over the cap for next season and only has seven players guaranteed for next season. His team is horrendously old and got out-worked by the Phoenix Suns (kudos to the Suns for pulling off one of the biggest surprises of the season, but it’s still the Suns!). With that said, I have a couple of ideas that could change the outlook of the franchise. Some insane, but could potentially happen:
1. Do a Sign-and-Trade deal with Tony Parker to Atlanta for Joe Johnson – Parker’s six-year/$66 million contract is up after the ‘10-11 season and with a league lacking in available free agent point guards, Parker would be a quality catch. This becomes more realistic with the emergence of George Hill this season. Joe Johnson could be a great long term fit in San Antonio, and with his career careening into the abyss in Atlanta his value could be lessened just a bit. Playing in San Antonio would have him playing for a contender, something Atlanta’s proven they’re not ready to be at all. Giving up Parker would seem insane, but for as good as Parker is, he has flaws as well. Move him and see if you can upgrade. Atlanta’s been in serious need for a PG for years now, as the basketball gods are making them pay for passing on CP3 and Deron years ago. Parker would be a SIGNIFICANT upgrade.
2. Do a Sign-and-Trade deal with Tony Parker to Toronto for Chris Bosh – Similar premise as Joe Johnson, the difference would be more relatable to when David Robinson’s career was tapering off and Duncan was able to be a lead dog, 10 years ago. Bosh is a born and raised Texan (Lincoln HS, stand up) and San Antonio might not be a bad look for him. I think San Antonio’s biggest flaw was that Timmy can’t do it by himself anymore and that there is no real frontline depth behind him. Toronto would love to upgrade at PG after the failed experiment, known as Jose Calderon. Plus, it’s the most international team in the League; TP might enjoy himself in the T-Dot.
3. Sign A Deal with the Devil to get the No. 1 Pick – Even the devil might not sign that deal. Doesn’t hurt to at least call New Jersey and inquire about the inevitable No. 1 pick for John Wall right?
Within their own division, we can somewhat predict improvement from Houston (Yao Ming returning plus the magic that is Daryl Morey), Memphis (pending what happens with Rudy Gay), and New Orleans (CP3 returning). The West will still be loaded, and with the “Summer of 2010” looming some of the Western powers are looking to make drastic improvements to their team. San Antonio is facing the similar closing window that Boston, Dallas, and Denver are looking at. Your players are getting older, no immediate ways to improve the team while others around you are getting better by the minute.
You’re going to see one of two things happen with the Spurs this off-season. Either San Antonio will be steadfast with their team and make minor tweaks to their engine, (finding better glue guys, drafting wisely, importing some of their foreign talent) or they’re going to make a drastic change in their personnel. Bringing in Bosh in a sign-and-trade to Toronto would change the entire game in the Alamo and would scare the living daylights out of any team preparing to face them in ‘10-11.
On a personal note, it’s kind of sad to see Timmy in the state he’s in now. He’s still very good, and I think he’s got some years left in him but…he’s almost in David Robinson mode for this team. If I’m RC Buford, I find a way to put Bosh next to Duncan and try to make a run for a title for 2010 and beyond.
Its time to make one last stand at the Alamo.
Eddie Maisonet is a freelance sports writer, blogger and big time hoops fan from Oklahoma who currently resides in Cincinnati. Keep up with Eddie at SLAMonline as well as his blog Ed The Sports Fan and on Twitter.