May 10, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs president of sports franchises R.C. Buford (left) and Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers (right) talk before game three of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Naturally, fears persist about the fate of the San Antonio Spurs roster next season. A great way to relieve the stress is to trust in R.C. Buford.
Team president has masterfully built around Tim Duncan for years
Gregg Popovich always gets the credit for the success of the Spurs, which is fine, but it’s so easy to forget that his ability to keep the team contending for so long wouldn’t have been possible without GM R.C. Buford. Like Popovich, he has been with the team through all five of their championship seasons and it’s his ability to consistently reload the roster around star Tim Duncan that allows them to be so consistent. It has come from every angle. He traded for the rights to Kawhi Leonard in 2011. He drafted Tiago Splitter in 2007. His signings of Manu Ginobili, Robert Horry, Radoslav Nesterovic, Brent Barry, Danny Green, Boris Diaw and Patty Mills have all had direct and indirect impacts on the success of the team since 1999. Buford know how Popovich coaches, he knows how his team is built and he knows exactly how to keep the machine running. Fans will have to trust he’s prepared for the eventuality that Duncan, Ginobili or Tony Parker might leave.
Retaining Patty Mills and Kawhi Leonard are top priorities
Before anything else, Buford understands he has to secure current young assets for the San Antonio Spurs in order to maintain stability should one of the old veterans retire. It starts with finding a way to retain point guard Patty Mills. While he played backup to Parker throughout the playoffs, the 25-year old took advantage of his opportunities when they were there. His 31 combined points in games 4 and 5 of the Finals were huge boosts to the Spurs offensive machine. Keeping him around will ease the burden on Parker and potentially give them a replacement down the road. At the same time, the clear top priority for R.C. Buford is getting an extension hammered out for Kawhi Leonard. The 2014 Finals MVP is by far their best young player and a major key to extending their long-term success once Duncan and the old guard are gone. His contract runs through next season.
The San Antonio Spurs adapt for a living, and it’s been Buford who helped lead the way.