It sucks to be the second choice. It sucks even more when you’re sufficient yet, due to an eclectic of other factors, the other choice’s parameters — be it intangible or tangible — ostensibly outweighs the other. That is exactly what happened to the Spurs.
Erazem Lorbek chose comfort, security, prominence and money to stay in Barcelona for the foreseeable future. It’s unlikely he ever makes it to San Antonio. The Spurs offered a roster spot and the opportunity to learn under Gregg Popovich.
But not all is lost.
It may seem outlandish to take this approach after the Spurs’ flaws were exposed against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Of course, on the same token, Oklahoma City was exceedingly fortunate considering they attempted 25.1 midrange shots per game. That kind of attack falls right into the Spurs’ hands. (The moral of the story: as long as you convert on 48% of these shots, the inherent flaw in their shot selection is excused.) The Thunder got lucky in this instance though their athleticism probably made their shot selection mute. I think they would have won the series regardless.
But, gosh, it makes you think. What if Oklahoma City converted their mid-range shots at their normal rate (approximately 41%)? That would have shave 21 points off the Thunder’s scoring total. In a series separated by 27 points, that is a vastly important number. That kind of swing probably makes it a seven game series. I don’t know about you but I can’t see San Antonio losing two home games in the same series.
Enough of the wishful rationalization. (It’s been a month after all.) The Spurs will enter the season as the same brutally efficient offensive powerhouse. Is it completely inconceivable to believe the Spurs won’t, with an entire offseason as the impetus, at least match their offensive efficiency?
With the nefarious Gregg Popovich at the helm, his efficacy as a motivator and strategist is already world renown, the potential of an improved, esoteric offensive system is at an all-time high.
Acting viscerally and ignoring objective measures aren’t the best way to approach this offseason. Expect patience to yet again reward the Spurs even though I’ll be among many frustrated Spurs fans appalled by our inability to stop the pick-and-roll.
But please, I urge you: don’t overreact if the Spurs do nothing more than retaining their own free agents. The Spurs still have a boatload of good young players. Perhaps their extensive resume as player developers leads to an improved product without actually altering the complexion of the team through free agency.
Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green might improve making any additional moves irrelevant. Leonard’s already shown that he can make a suprising internal development — last season it was his 3-point shooting. What’s to stop him from become a more complete offensive option next season?
The fact of the matter is this: the Spurs are pretty darn good without Lorbek. They probably are better with Lorbek. But the difference doesn’t instantly make trading valuable cogs viable. (Unless they can rip off David Kahn, that is.)