Nothing motivates a team to improve quite like a premature playoff exit. The San Antonio Spurs look like they’re fully committed to improving their roster through free agency.
Marc Stein of ESPN is reporting that the Spurs have interest in Conley. The Memphis Grizzlies were without Conley’s services for that lopsided first round loss to that same Spurs team.
This makes a lot of sense for the Spurs to pursue Conley. Whether the salary cap logistics exist to pursue all 3 of those major free agents remains to be seen, especially with the uncertain futures of both Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili heading into next season.
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What seems most likely is that the Spurs will prioritize the acquisitions of those 3 players in some order, the obvious sequence being Durant, Conley, and then Gasol. If cost is emphasized above talent, then that order reverses.
The addition of Conley solves a lot of pressing needs for the Spurs. After his inconsistent regular season and postseason performance, it’s clear that Tony Parker’s best days are officially behind him.
His quickness has deteriorated compared to what it once was, and unfortunately that’s what his offensive game is predicated on. His slashing ability is what sets up his patented step-back midrange jumper that has tormented defenders over the years. He breaks to the hoop, and suddenly stops on a dime to lean back and create an open shot.
As his quickness continues to decrease, it’ll be harder for him to create his own shot. At that point, he’d likely serve as simply a facilitator for others on the court without much to contribute in terms of scoring the ball. He never developed a consistent 3-point jumper in his career, and he doesn’t have the range or precision from the perimeter to be worthwhile as a catch-and-shoot guy.
Parker has never been a solid defender, and his skills on that end of the court have only gotten worse as he’s lost athleticism. At this stage of his career, Parker is looking less like a viable starting point guard and far more appealing as a bench guy who can provide terrific backcourt depth.
Conley has quietly become one of the best point guards in the NBA during his career with the Grizzlies. It would be a case of the rich getting richer if the Spurs were able to add Conley to their already impressive lineup.
It’s hard to imagine, but Parker was arguably the weakest link of the Spurs’ starting lineup this year. Danny Green and Tim Duncan might have struggled on offense, but they have fantastic defensive capabilities that Parker simply doesn’t have.
Parker’s main asset at this point is his leadership. Bringing Conley aboard would help the Spurs get better, and Parker surely has the wisdom and selflessness to understand that reality.