San Antonio Spurs: Offseason Keys
By Ivan Mora
It’s a very strange time of year right about now. We are in the midst of the NBA finals and the Spurs are nowhere to be seen. A horrible and weird feeling, but a certainty that felt impossible a months ago. The Spurs were rolling and were on their way to what seemed like another trip to the NBA Finals until the Clippers ruined their plans.
A hard fought and close matchup ended the Spurs dreams of a repeat as Chris Paul forced a Game 7 and ended it with a crucial layup in the last remaining seconds of the game. A hard blow to the defending champions that crushed them after an incredible comeback season that saw them favorites to win the West. So now, the Spurs are still looking back trying to figure out what happened as they reminisce walking through that tunnel one last time out of the NBA playoffs.
Spurs back to back trips to the finals ended early May with a first round exit from the playoffs to the Los Angeles Clippers. Tough way to be ousted especially after a crazy game 7, but now that thats done and over with, what’s the next step for the Spurs? They’re in the beginning stages of the offseason and they have their hands full these next couple of weeks.
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So what can we expect to see from these Spurs once the NBA Finals conclude and the offseason officially begins July 1st?
- Priorities! And they have 3 big ones now more than ever. Let’s focus on the first one. Lock up Kawhi Leonard to a max contract. The former reigning NBA Finals MVP had a superb season to say the least and has proven himself worthy against the NBA’s elite. Averaging 16 points a game and close to 8 rebounds, his stock is on the rise as we are witnessing one of the Spurs up and coming greats develop before our very eyes. His wingspan alone speaks numbers as its vastly improved his defensive ability down the court. If you look back at his regular season games against Curry, Harden, and even Westbrook, you can see that he knows their every move as he puts pressure on their game and doesn’t let up. Averaging close to 3 steals per game, he led the Spurs this season in that category and can only look to improve next year. So yeah top priority, sign him and give him the MAX. After all, he is the future.
- The Big Fundamental (Tim Duncan) and Manu Ginobili! They have to be ready for another run and the next step is to keep them for one more year. At 38 and 37 years old, respectively, they have proven that, like a fine wine, they only get better with age, especially Tim Duncan. Now, having said that, you really can’t expect them to keep playing like that in their 40’s. You know their retirement is coming, but they seem poised and eager for one more year. Rumors around the NBA confirm, that they felt they didn’t end last season the way they wanted to and, with good reason, want one more chance at the Larry O’ Brien trophy. They have built, arguably, the best dynasty in the past decade and with the coach of the decade back at the sidelines, I think this dynamic duo has just the right amount of fuel left for one more run. Let’s hope were right and were able to witness one more spectacular run suited up in their black and silver.
- Find a true center. Don’t give me wrong, Splitter is good, but he is not the right fit for this Spurs system going forward. If they’re really going to contend for one more title with the big 3 and Kawhi, they really are going to need a complimentary center to provide post power and moves in order to even have a slight chance to reach the NBA Finals again. With an aging Duncan in his last year, they need a strong tough guy inside to post up and lay up whenever they see an isolation or pick and roll play opening up. Now, this is very premature, but I heard two very suitable candidates for next year could be Lamarcus Aldridge or Marc Gasol. Either or would be an amazing and perfect fit for this system and provide that much needed lift Duncan and the Spurs need to taste victory again. With Duncan and Ginobili probably agreeing to yet another pay cut, I think Spurs management can find a way to make all the pieces fit together.
I guess these 3 things are a must, in order for the Spurs to gain an edge in this competitive Western conference. #3 being the long shot of course, but when it is all said and done, I think these Spurs are capable of pulling it off. They never seize to amaze us and will have a very intriguing and surprising offseason to say the least. Obviously, I can’t wait til next season, but in the meantime let’s enjoy the NBA Finals and afterwards carefully witness the Spurs offseason chess moves commence.