Examining The Spurs Off-Season


Jun 13, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs point guard Gary Neal (14), head coach Gregg Popovich, Manu Ginobili (20), Tony Parker (9), and Tiago Splitter (22) react against the Miami Heat during the third quarter of game four of the 2013 NBA Finals at the AT

Three of the four guys in the above picture might not be in a Spurs uniform next season. Even though it’s already a foregone conclusion that Manu Ginobili will resign, so he can finish his career in San Antonio, Neal and Splitter’s future isn’t as clear.

With teams being allowed to begin speaking to free agents today, Air Alamo’s Lead Editor, Michael Rehome, joined me in a discussion to talk about what the Spurs have already done this off-season and what else we can expect.

John Diaz, Senior Staff Writer: How quickly things change in a couple hours. Let me start off by saying, the moment the Cavaliers took Anthony Bennett with the #1 pick, I knew we were in for a hell of a draft. I went back and read our conversation from Thursday and just laughed at how off we were. But not only us, EVERYONE didn’t see this coming. What were your initial thoughts?

Michael Rehome, Lead Editor: Wow! You can’t be serious. Haha. Hey, we never told anyone that we knew what we were taking about did we? I didn’t expect anything to go right after that first pick. I was surprised that Noel fell as far as he did. Which player were you surprised that fell the most?

Jun 27, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Anthony Bennett (UNLV) walks to the stage after being selected as the number one overall pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2013 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

JD: We need to post that on the site. “Disclaimer: We may or may not know what we’re actually talking about.” Haha.

I’d have to say the same, I hated seeing Noel fall to 6th. But I’m more upset at the fact that the Horne…I mean, Pelicans. That the Pelicans didn’t keep the “Thin Towers” together with Noel and Davis. But even more upsetting, for me, was Cody Zeller going to Charlotte. Ben McLemore was staring at them right in the face, and they basically decided, “Let’s go find our replacement for BYRON MULLENS.” Rich Cho and Michael Jordan deserve all the backlash they’re going to receive for that pick.

MR: I don’t know, man. I’m just scratching my head and thinking to myself, whom did these team have to pick these players for them. I feel that Ben McLemore would of been what the Bobcats needed. Why do you think he fell where he did? Also, do you think Noel coming off of injury hurt his stock?

JD: McLemore did have questions about his maturity at Kansas, but at this point, the maturity argument is so cliché. Not everyone can be a humble and emotionless like Kawhi Leonard. What I will say is, McLemore’s arrival could signal the end of Tyreke Evans in Sacramento. That phone you hear ringing? That’s R.C. Buford calling new Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro about Evans availability. At least that’s what I hope.

Noel’s injury definitely hurt his draft stock, but he’s such a great defensive player…I think he’s worth the risk. But now the Sixers are replacing an injured Andrew Bynum with an injured Nerlens Noel, while getting rid of their All-Star point guard, Jrue Holiday. Philadelphia did have a good draft though, and cleared plenty of cap space in the process. Anything of interest you wanted to point out from the lottery picks or the first round in general?

Jun 27, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Nerlens Noel (Kentucky) poses with NBA commissioner David Stern after being selected as the number six overall pick to the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2013 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

MR: I agree with you on Noel. He is a great defensive player and I feel that he could of made an impact on the Cavaliers. It is what it is now and I wish him and the others the best. I know that will be looking at Bennett to see what he brings to the table and that he was a legitimate number one.

I think we’re the same person. I thought the same when the Kings did pick up McLemore (Am I the only one sings “Thrift Shop” every time I say his name?) how I would love for Tyreke to be a Spur. This draft was all over the place.

JD: You say you think we’re the same person, but then you mention that horrible rapper Macklemore in the same sentence with Ben McLemore. And now I have that song stuck in my head. Thanks a lot, Michael. Ha.

This draft really was all over the place. The Knicks and Tim Hardaway, Jr. is a great pick. Especially if J.R. Smith leaves. And plenty of Heat fans on Twitter now hate the young Hardaway, even though his father’s jersey is retired inside the American Airlines Arena. Gotta love rivalries. My vote for best name in the draft goes to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Totally naming my kids Kentavious now. And the Clippers getting Reggie Bullock at #25 was an absolute steal and has been touted as Danny Green 2.0 by many.

Now on to the Spurs…I said most of my thoughts Thursday night while grading the draft picks, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts?

Mar 30, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes forward Deshaun Thomas (1) shoots over Wichita State Shockers guard Ron Baker (31) during the second half of the finals of the West regional of the 2013 NCAA tournament at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

MR: I feel that the Spurs picks are fair. Many I know were hoping to see Erick Green, given the tweets going out that San Antonio promised him the pick at 28. As stated, I like the two that we did get. Though one will possibly get shipped off for a year (hope not but that is what is rumored) I feel both will know their roles or be told their roles and make an impact on the team.

JD: We’ve covered the draft. We’ve covered the Spurs selections. Now free agency has started. If the Spurs amnesty Matt Bonner, then R.C. Buford will have over $16 million in cap room to sign any free agents they please. Something that we haven’t seen since the summer of 2003, when the Spurs signed Rasho Nesterovic. We know Manu’s nearly guaranteed to come back, at least for one season. Buford hinted at not wanting to over pay for Splitter, who’s a restricted free agent. Diaw and Mills have already opted-in to their player options. Who do you most want the Spurs to sign or at least attempt to bring into the fold?

MR: I would not be upset if we did not re-sign Splitter. Then again, who would we have into the fold, Diaw? He is getting up there in age and though is is productive on defense he does not give us much on the scoring end.

Apr 12, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson (25) shoots during the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at EnergySolutions Arena. The Jazz won 107-100. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

There are a lot of big names that are out there in Free Agency and though we may not be able to target some big names I do feel that there are some out there that we could possibly get a chance to get a hold of. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I would love to see Al Jefferson in a Spurs uni.

I just love his style of play and feel the he can compliment TD more than Splitter could. This past season he had a good year. Nearly a double-double night in and night out getting just under 18 points a game and under 10 rebounds. He’s a good defender and feel that it will take more off of TD down in the block.

Whom are you thinking or wanting us to go after?

JD: I disagree that Jefferson is a good defender. He comes across as lazy and uninspired, but I think Pop and Chad Forcier can change that. They made Bonner a formidable defender in the Lakers series, so I think they can turn Big Al into an alright defender. But he’s probably going to cost too much. Depending on Manu’s contract, I’d love to see the Spurs get a wing and big for good value. I can’t lie, I’m fine with Splitter walking. You can’t teach height, and with his skill set, someone may be willing to overpay him. That’s the beauty of restricted free agency, the Spurs can see any offer Tiago gets and determine if it’s worth it or not.

Hypothetical situation: Manu resigns for cheap and Splitter walks. You need a big and I’m still adamant that the Spurs need a scoring wing off the bench to back up Leonard or Green. So my bigs wishlist would be Paul Millsap, Zaza Pachulia, Carl Landry, Greg Oden or David West. Those are my “realistic” options that aren’t Dwight Howard, Al Jefferson or Josh Smith.

Apr 3, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers former center Greg Oden smiles while watching the Trail Blazers play against the Memphis Grizzlies at the Rose Garden. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

My wings wishlist is J.R. Smith (great defender and shooter, almost signed with San Antonio last season), Kyle Korver (who’s already rumored to be going to Brooklyn), Matt Barnes, Chris Copeland or Corey Brewer. But realistically, I see Manu and Tiago coming back, and maybe the Spurs adding a player like Mike Dunleavy, Jr.

MR: I remember when JR was close to signing with the Spurs. I feel he would be a great for for the team. As you stated he is a great defender and scorer. I know many would attest that he has a bad attitude but Pop has dealt with them before.

You talk about Spurs bringing back Manu and Splitter and possibly signing Dunleavy. Meh. Not a big fan of Dunleavy. What do you think he could bring to the team?

JD: I think he could be a great scorer off the bench. The Spurs are notorious for bringing in veterans that can shoot. From the days of Mario Elie and Danny Ferry to Michael Finley and Brent Barry. Dunleavy fits that exact mold. He’s had his fair share of injuries in the past, but he just posted a career high in 3-PT percentage (43%) which is was good enough for 8th in the NBA on guys that have at least made 55 three pointers this season. Definitely would be a solid addition to the second unit.

Anyone that you would like to see the Spurs add or at least pursue, other than Al Jefferson or J.R. Smith?

April 17, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) shoots over Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee (10) in the first half at the Rose Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

MR: I really would like to see LaMarcus Aldridge in a San Antonio jersey. I really like his game and what he can provide out on the perimeter. He can defend, rebound and does pass the ball well for a big man. I know San Antonio could not afford him nor another player like Paul Millsap. The Utah Jazz are going to depart ways with one of their big men whether it be Al Jefferson or Millsap. San Antonio can have $10 million in cap space to sign free agents but not sure if they would offer a big load for Millsap. Standing 6’8″ and 258, I feel that he can fill up the lane and make our low post defense harder for teams to dump it down into.

I just don’t see us getting either of the three mentioned. I do, though, would like us to go big if anything.

JD: LaMarcus would be perfect in the Spurs uniform. From Dallas, former Longhorn. He would fit in perfectly. And he said he was “bored” of Portland. I would be too, if we kept losing every year. But the only way to get Aldridge is a sign-and-trade, so that’s a dream killer right there.

We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Thank you for your time, Michael.