It’s kind of boring here in Spurs Land with the team still fishing and the draft weeks away. So we decided to do a mailbag! Keep in mind these are real e-mails from fake people.
Q: After seeing LeBron-Bron’s reactions to flaming out in the last two playoffs, is it safe to say that dude probably has “child actor syndrome”? You know, famous and favored from such an early age that he has no idea how to react when he doesn’t get that bike he wanted for Christmas. – Aloysius Fairbanks
AA: I thought a lot about the team dynamics after they got bounced and came to an interesting conclusion. LeBron and his teammates have too much fun. Stay with me for a second. There’s no denying LeBron *can be* the best player on the planet. He had a pretty good team this year (compare it to the 2003 Spurs and you see how decent it was) but still couldn’t get to the Finals. I think LeBron needs to be more like Jordan or even Kobe in terms of team relationships. His teammates don’t fear anything (except maybe Delonte’s face herpes) and that’s a huge problem. They’re too relaxed and rely on regular season malaise and LeBron to get them to the playoffs. Once there, they don’t know how to get serious and play for something other than “I hope we don’t get burned by the media”. They don’t know how to do it. So I think while it’s likely LeBron has child-actor syndrome, it’s even more likely that the entire team has “act like a child” syndrome. Q: Over the years we’ve heard fanciful talk of an NBA Europe or NBA Asia, isn’t more likely that if David “Call Me King” Stern wants to grow the NBA brand and enhance his legacy that expansion takes place domestically – Michael Torres
AA: I prefer to call Stern “King Baby” because of how stubborn he is. I think there’s zero chance the NBA expands to Europe, Asia, Australasia, or Narnia before cities like Seattle and even Las Vegas get teams. Stern knows he’d have mini-riots in Seattle since their franchise was basically stolen out from under them. However, I don’t see expansion any time in the near future. The NBA is in some trouble with finances with so many teams losing money. They also have to renegotiate the Collective Bargaining Agreement after next season. Many people think there will be another Lockout and who knows how long that might take. So in general, I don’t see expansion happening any time soon. If it does, it’ll be on this side of the Atlantic. Mexico City anyone? For those that are curious, here is a map of the NBA if it added Seattle and Vegas and realigned the divisions:
Q: Do you think that the Suns are kicking themselves for selling the rights to Rondo back in 2006? – Dave Donsperontu
AA: Probably. They traded Rondo to Boston for the rights to Cleveland’s 2007 first round pick and cash. With that pick they took Rudy Fernandez…who they then traded, along with James Jones, to Portland for, wait for it, cash. So they basically traded Rondo AND Fernandez for cash. Robert Sarver everybody!
Q: Any idea what “Kahnnnnnn!!” is going to do with his first round picks this year? Draft three more point guards? – Duke Johnson
AA: I don’t think anyone knows what that moron is doing. They have 3 first round picks and they basically need players at every position other than PG and PF. I think it’s possible we see a trade before or on Draft Night. There were rumors earlier in the season that Kahn offered Al Jefferson straight up for Danny Granger. I laughed too. But it points to Kahn understanding you can’t play a team of PG-PG-Moose-PF-PF. If they do keep the #4 pick and Wesley Johnson is gone, I’m not sure what Kahn will do. They need a wing and after Johnson, the next few best prospects are all big men. I highly doubt David Kahn will be the GM after next season with the position he has put himself and the team in.
Q: How is it possible that the Spurs supposedly lost $20mil this season, and they haven’t been foreclosed on? I miss one house payment and the bank bugs the crap out of me until I pay up. – Dixon Cox
AA: They’re white?
Q: Am I delusional for hoping that the Spurs are able to nab one of the big free agents this summer? – Ariel Ven
AA: Yes, you are. The Spurs are already at around $65 million for next season with the cap likely being around $56 million. That means the Spurs can only use their Mid-Level Exception and various other minimum contracts to fill out their roster. It looks like they’ll offer some or all of the MLE to Splitter. Even if they don’t give it all the Splitter, they’ll only be left with a few million bucks here and there to fill out the roster. Now, the dark horse would be if a big free agent desperately wants to join the Spurs. Then it’s likely the Spurs could package Jefferson’s rotting cesspool of a career + draft pick(s) and/or cash for said Free Agent via a Sign-and-Trade. This is all assuming Jefferson doesn’t royally screw the Spurs by opting out of his contract. While that would bring the Spurs to about $6 million below the cap, they wouldn’t be allowed to use the MLE AT ALL. So as much as we hate Jefferson…and we do, we need him to stay with the Spurs at least until July 1st.
Q: Do you think there’s any hope that a lockout will be averted a year from now? If so, what kinds of changes do you think will be made to the CBA? – Mike Timms
AA: First of all, if the Owners get desperate they have the option of extending the CBA one additional season. If they choose to do so, they must notify the Players’ Union by December 15th. Most people understand that as the Wealthy Guys that pay a bunch of Rich Guys’ (thanks Chris Rock) salaries that the Owners are the ones that hold the cards. If Peter Holt and his colleagues on the Owners’ side of the table think it would be best to call the whole thing off then we very well could see a lock-out. Personally I doubt that happens, but it’s happened before so it could happen again.
The 2005 agreement is a good place to start, but I think the Owners are going to look for more flexibility, more predictable expenses, and greater opportunity for revenue. On the Players’ side they are going to look for more money and contractual protections. If the Union is smart they will realize that there are far more players that make the MLE or less and those are the individuals they should be courting to gain support. Out of the over 450 players that played in the NBA this season only 24 made $15mil or more, so honestly the vast majority of the players in the league would benefit from an increase in the minimum salary and a decrease in the maximum. Those are the players that will be hurt by a lock-out more than anyone, hopefully the Union wises up and realizes that.
Before this answer becomes 90% of this mailbag, I’ll point out that we will be revisiting this issue in greater depth later in the Summer. The third party in this equation that should not be over-looked is the fans. What we want to see is the best players in the world play the best game in the world at the highest level possible…that, Refs that have some iota of what a foul is on a consistent basis.
Q: The Spurs are reported to have met with Derrick Favors. What do you think the Spurs are up to considering Favors is likely going in the top 5? -Angel Dominguez
AA: It’s nearly impossible to ever tell what the Spurs are up to. Last year they took time to meek with DeJaun Blair and somehow he lasted until the 37th pick. I doubt that Favors is around at the 20th pick, but he is a player that the Spurs could use. My feelings are that they met with him to see if they thought he was a good enough fit within the Spurs’ culture to try and trade up and grab…either that or Pop is using his covert ops background to mess with the collective heads of the NBA world.
Q: Is there any chance the Red Rocket re-signs with the Spurs? How about The Centerpiece aka Keith Bogans? Please tell me they’re gone for good. – Steve Ganshaw
There is a chance that you see them suited up again in the Silver-n-Black next year. As an over-the-cap team the Spurs only have so much ability to sign players this off-season. They have the rookie exception that comes with the #20 pick, the MLE, the LLE, Bird Rights, and minimum salaries. There are seven players with guaranteed contracts next year. The Spurs are required to carry at least 13 contracts by the CBA, so it is possible that Bonner re-signs because the Spurs hold his Bird Rights or Bogans re-signs because he’s a minimum contract player.
Were it up to us, the roster would look like this next year: Parker, Ginobili, Jefferson (or his replacement via trade), Duncan, Splitter, Draft Pick #20, Hill, Blair, LLE Free Agent, McDyess, Hairston, Temple, Mahinmi, and Jerrells. Notice, no Bonner and no Bogans. This is barring any crazy off-season moves by the Spurs.
Q: What do you see Duncan’s legacy being with the possibility of Kobe getting his 5th ring this year? Still the greatest player post-Jordan? – Gene Fleming
AA: Duncan’s legacy has yet to be fully written. Let’s let him retire before we chisel it in stone. However, I don’t think it can be overstated the level of difficultly Duncan faced in garnering his four rings versus the difficulty rating of Kobe’s four. Three of Kobe’s rings came while playing in Shaq’s shadow. As much as I hate Shaq, he was pretty much the most dominate player in the league from 2000-2002. Tim Duncan on the other hand, has brought four pretty substaintially different supporting casts to the Promised Land, and that shouldn’t get short shrift. One shouldn’t forget the 13 straight seasons of 50+ wins (I am lumping the ’99 season into that group because they won almost 75% of the games that they did play that year so it’s reasonable to assume that they would have won 50 had there been a full season), you can’t say the same for Kobe.
Thanks for reading and feel free to send us some questions, but only if you’re stealing someone else’s identity.