Regardless of the outcome this evening, the Memphis Grizzlies, historical NBA whipping boys, have exposed these San Antonio Spurs as a team in decline. Those of us that bleed silver-n-black have fought tooth and nail to deny that fact, but I think we all know it is what it is now.
Please don’t think for an instant that this is nothing more than a somewhat loyal fan jumping off of the band wagon. My tenure with the Spurs goes back a ways…not as far as some of you, but more than most I’m sure…and I’ve ridden out a few storms in that period. A decade plus of overwhelming success in the NBA is not something to take lightly, but “all good things” and the rest of that “tomorrow holds no promises” stuff.
If this year’s version on the Spurs indeed hold the hearts of champions and somehow manage to overcome the situation at hand and continue through to reach the promised land, what I am about to say would still hold true. Someone or something has to change if the Spurs are to continue to thrive in the NBA. Who or what, I’m not sure, but I do have some thoughts.Let’s start with the roster:
It is highly unlikely that any of the Big Three would ever be traded, at least not for anything close to the value these players have to the Spurs. First off, Tim Duncan is not going anywhere; I know that, you know that, and the Spurs know that. Manu being Manu is pretty much irreplaceable. Even with his reasonable contract, who out there is going to offer anything close to an equitable trade for him? Certainly not any team in “rebuilding mode”, and I can’t think of any team in need of “veteran leadership,” or any of that crap, that the Spurs would willingly trade him to. That leaves Frenchie. While he might be the most tradable of the Big Three given his age, production, and contract what would the Spurs do without him? Obviously, the day will come when Pop and Co will have to do without all of these players. However, if the idea is to tinker with the recipe to improve the tastiness of the end product, exchanging any of the main ingredients for different cuts of meat or other vegetables would yield an entirely different entrée that might not go down as well.
What’s left is a mix of role players that for the most part would garner tepid if any interest on the trade market. As of right now, I think we can expect to see RJ and Bonner in SA until 2014. Closer to the ends of their deals they might be swapped, but until then expect Ginger and Peanut to mess up your game watching experience night-in and night-out. McDyess might retire this off-season, but then again he might not. If he sticks it out, he wouldn’t reap a whole heck of a lot unless partnered with some other assets or without some sort or wink-wink “I’m not retiring” deal.
Splitter, Anderson, Neal, Hill and Blair are the assets the Spurs have left to work with. Losing some of them would probably not be a big deal, but the return would probably also not be that great. So I guess what I am saying is that without some sort of magic deal along the lines of Bowen, Thomas, Oberto for Jefferson can be made (not completely out of the question, but a stretch to say the least), this is the Spurs team you should expect to see next season, and maybe a bit more after that.