You may or may not have noticed that despite the lockout, the intertubes have not given up on writing about the NBA. Sometimes we get desperate and right about guys like Aaron Gray and not quite as fat as he used to be Eddy Curry. Sometimes blogs decide to break down the top 100 guys in the league (two very entertaining series from Zack Lowe with Sports Illustrated and the fellas over CBS Sports) and in the case of ESPN, you break down the top 500 over a span of several weeks. In the case of ESPN’s Ric Bucher, Kevin Pelton and Chris Broussard, you take some of the better, older teams and break down what they should do in the offseason.
Bucher drew the Spurs and made some very intriguing suggestions in column titled “Trades to fuel a Spurs title run” which can be viewed if you have an ESPN Insider account.
First he suggested that to truly rebuild the team, but keep it competitive that the team needs to trade two of the Three Amigos. The first and most obvious is Tony Parker. Bucher had a couple of great ideas for this one. The first seems to be the most plausible and that’s trading Tony Parker for Josh Smith straight up.
“Try as the Spurs might, they have not been able to find an athletic stretch 4 to do for Duncan what Robert Horry did so well. Instead, they’ve used a compendium: Matt Bonner to space the floor with 3s, McDyess to defend, DeJuan Blair to rebound. But there’s a young freakishly athletic 4 who desperately wants out of his current situation, and if I’m San Antonio I do everything to get him: the Atlanta Hawks’ Josh Smith. If there’s a catch-lightning-in-a-bottle opportunity, it’s taking all the obvious physical talent Smith has and harnessing it under the tutelage of Popovich and Duncan. Since the Hawks are in need of both a point guard and veteran leadership, I would offer them Parker, a deal that would work straight up.”
Great idea. It leaves the Spurs without any sort of point guard, but getting a guy like Smith would make the Spurs lethal on defense.
Josh Smith or ”Smif,” as we’ll call him, is one of the best help defenders in the league. If Duncan is your number option for defending the post and Smif is coming over to provide weak side help, you just solved a huge problem for the Spurs had last season. As far as the issue of point guard goes, maybe you offer Parker, Antonio McDyess’ partially guranteed deal and DeJuan Blair for Smif and Kirk Hinrich. Atlanta then saves $5 million from McDyess’ deal (assuming he’s retiring) and they get Blair, who at least makes up for losing Smif’s rebounds. Hinrich gives you a stop gap solution at point guard. This will be the last year of his contract so if he completely sucks, you still save $8 million to go along with Duncan’s $20 million coming off the books in 2012 (roughly $11 million in cap room since the Spurs are about 17 million over the cap if the cap stays where it is). Having Josh Smith, Kawhi Leonard, James Anderson, Tiago Splitter & Duncan & Manu for another year or two as a core is a pretty enticing team to a free agent point guard (*cough* Chris Paul*, *cough* Deron Williams).
Bucher also recommends the Spurs also go after Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins:
“Another option, though slightly less attractive, is to see if the Kings would be willing to satisfy their need for a starting point guard — forgive me for having doubts that either Tyreke Evans or Jimmer Fredette are the answer — by dealing DeMarcus Cousins. I know, I know: it’s a tremendous long shot because big men of Cousins’ abilities are so extremely rare. But Cousins obviously has already rubbed more than a few people in Sacramento the wrong way and maybe, just maybe, the idea of having a steady experienced hand like Parker, whose speed and pedigree might be the perfect complement to the up-and-down talent of Evans, Donte Greene and the rest of the Kings’ young, athletic core, compels Sacramento to pull the trigger.”
You’re saying one of two things here: “DeMarcus Cousins is a punk and a head case and I want nothing to do with him” or “There’s no f’ing way the Kings would give up DeMarcus Cousins for an almost 30 point guard.”
Let’s address the first statement. DeMarcus Cousins is an entitled, immature 21-year-old. These things happen. It doesn’t mean he’s a bad person, it just means he hasn’t been told “no” much in his life because he’s probably always been really, really good at basketball. He’s also in the worst possible situation right now… he’s on a bad, young team with a coach that frequently singles him out. With Pop, he’d get ridden, but no more than anyone else on the Spurs would because that’s how Pop rolls.
As far as would the Kings trade Cousins for Parker… probably not. But the Maloofs are so hard to figure out and Geoff Petrie just traded down and took on more money to take Jimmer Fredette, which didn’t make any sense (they could’ve just taken him at #7). Parker would give the Kings something they don’t have, namely a guy who can run an offense, but I don’t think that’s enough for Cousins. Still, if that offer drifted the Spurs’ way I don’t think you can say no. Depending on Ryan Richards’ development I think you even consider adding him or Tiago to that trade. Cousins is that talented. You’d probably also have to take on Francisco Garcia’s contract to make this work and save the Kings some money long term, but that’s how these things work sometimes.
The Manu trades are where Bucher’s ideas just become a bit much for my taste. The first idea is a mega deal with the Hawks that calls for trading Joe Johnson and Josh Smif for Tony Parker, Manu and Richard Jefferson. Whoa, whoa, whoa there. Let’s slow down a bit. I like Smif, but I’m pretty sure I’d rather have Manu for 24 million over 2 years then the 5 years, $3 Billion Johnson is still on the hook for. Next he says why not Taj Gibson or Omer Asik plus Ronnie Brewer or Kyle Korver for Manu. No thanks, this is just Ric’s way of getting his man crush, Derrick Rose, an awesome 2 guard to play with. He also suggests Manu for Monte Ellis. I think Monte could be Manu-esque and is awesome when he’s at his best, but again, no thanks.
So what do you think Spurs fans. Did Bucher go over board with his ideas? Would you do any of these trades?