San Antonio Spurs News

The San Antonio Spurs unfazed with Southwest Division acquisitions.

Feb 12, 2017; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) and New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) hug after the game at Golden 1 Center. The Sacramento Kings defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 105-99. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 12, 2017; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) and New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) hug after the game at Golden 1 Center. The Sacramento Kings defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 105-99. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
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On Sunday night, the New Orleans Pelicans acquired DeMarcus Cousins from the Sacramento Kings. On Tuesday night, the Houston Rockets acquired Louis Williams from the Los Angeles Lakers. Will the Spurs make a move?

The Southwest Division has been busy this week.

Following the All-Star game, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported that the Pelicans had acquired DeMarcus Cousins for Tyreke Evans, Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, a protected 2017 first round pick and a 2017 second round pick.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers fired GM Mitch Kupchak and Jerry Buss, making Magic Johnson the President of Basketball Operations. Within hours of the announcement, Johnson hit the phones in hopes to make some moves before the trade deadline.

Later that evening, Johnson made his first move as Lakers President.

The Rockets are sending Corey Brewer and a first-round pick to the Lakers for Lou Williams, league source tells @TheVertical.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 22, 2017

Johnson traded his leading scorer, Lou Williams, to the Rockets for Corey Brewer and a first-round pick. For the Lakers, it proves that Johnson is attempting to “tank” this season and build through the draft and potentially free-agency.

Why? The Lakers lose their draft pick in 2017 if it’s not in the top-3. So, fighting for an eighth seed in the West makes much less sense than trying to secure that top-3 pick in a loaded 2017 draft.

Unlike the Cousins trade, the Williams trade was beneficial to both sides.

For the Rockets, Lou Williams delivers significant scoring boost to Mike D'Antoni's deep arsenal. He's under contract thru next season, too.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 22, 2017

The Rockets are third in the West with a record of 40-18. Rockets head coach Mike D’antoni just bolstered his offensive capabilities by adding a player like Williams.

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Not only did Williams lead the Lakers in scoring off the bench, but he led the entire NBA in scoring off the bench with 18.6 points per game.

The two leading candidates for Sixth Man of the Year? Eric Gordon and Williams. They are now both playing on the Rockets.

D’antoni, arguably the pioneer of the modern-day basketball style of floor spacing and three-point shooting, has now surrounded MVP candidate James Harden with even more firepower.

The Spurs, on the other hand, have remained predictably quiet.

For the 145th straight year, all is expected to be quiet on trade deadline day in San Antonio, home of the model franchise.

— Shaun Powell (@Powell2daPeople) February 22, 2017

Should the Spurs be worried by the acquisitions of Cousins and Williams?

The Short-Term

In the short-term, the Spurs should be a little nervous with the Rockets acquisition of Williams.

The Spurs and Rockets have faced-off three times this season. The Spurs lost their first matchup at home, 101-99. The Spurs bounced back and beat the Rockets on their home floor the following two matchups, 106-100 and 102-100.

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  • It’s unclear whether D’antoni will relegate Williams to the bench and start Gordon, or vice versa. What is clear is the Rockets gearing up for an offensive onslaught in the ladder stages of the season.

    If the Spurs have a weakness, it’s their ability to score on a consistent basis. Granted, the injury to Pau Gasol has had an impact on their scoring. Nevertheless, the Spurs could definitely benefit from adding another scorer to their lineup off the bench.

    The Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, and the Rockets are built very similar: A heavy dose of pick-and-roll basketball with an open-floor allowing the point-guard to attack or dish for a three.

    The Memphis Grizzlies, Utah Jazz, and Spurs are also built similar: An efficient half-court offense that relies heavily on the stellar play of the half-court defense.

    These styles will clash in the playoffs, and it remains to be seen which style will reign victorious.

    A few years ago, I would say with supreme confidence that the Spurs would dominate. However, the age of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli worry me. Steph Curry/Klay Thompson, Chris Paul/JJ Redick, Harden/Gordon will continue to push the pace and force Parker and Ginobli to keep up.

    The Spurs are set to play the Warriors twice, the Clippers twice, and the Rockets once in the final stages of the NBA season. Those matchups will be a better indication of the Spurs’ ability to play against the elite offensive teams in the league.

    The Long-Term

    While the Williams trade is more impactful in the short-term, there is no doubt that Cousins teaming up with Anthony Davis in New Orleans is more impactful in the long-run.

    Since they have yet to play a game together, it’s hard to predict how successful they’ll be. On paper, Davis and Cousins are by far, the best front-court in the NBA.

    There are only two active players who have played > 200 games and avg > 20 ppg & 10 rpg for their career:

    Anthony Davis & DeMarcus Cousins

    — Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) February 20, 2017

    Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans point-guard, has been very formidable this year alongside Davis. He is averaging 16.3 points per game on 46.8% shooting, along with 7.5 assists per game.

    Assuming Holiday re-signs with the Pelicans in the offseason, the Pelicans have a Big-3.

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    Outside of those three players, i’m not sure the Pelicans have enough shooters on their team to make life easy for Cousins and Davis. LaMarcus Aldridge and Gasol work well together because Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green can knock down open shots.

    The Pelicans, on the other hand, don’t have that luxury. In the modern NBA where shooting and making three pointers is essential in building a championship caliber team, the Pelicans need to add some sharp-shooters to truly become a contender.

    Until then, the Pelicans are in “trial mode,” and don’t affect the Spurs in the short-term. Cousins and Davis, who are both in their primes, definitely affect the Spurs in the long-run, considering it’s a team they have to play four times every season.

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    As far as the Spurs go, it seems they will remain quiet yet again.

    Can you blame them? If it ain’t broke, don’t break it.

    The Spurs are second in the Western Conference with Gasol slated to return on Friday against the Clippers. A healthy Spurs team with Gregg Popovich is more than enough in San Antonio.

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