It’s been exactly 15 days since the San Antonio Spurs were eliminated in six games at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies.
15 days later it’s hard to fathom that a squad that won 61-games was sent home in the first round by an eight seed. But the oddness around the Association continues, as the two teams (Lakers, Celtics) that played for the title last year have also been eliminated.
Basketball continues today as the Memphis Grizzlies are in the same position (down 3-2 to the Oklahoma City Thunder) the Spurs were in two weeks ago.
For the Spurs, the past is done. There is no going back, history has been written and it is now time to move forward into the future.
There have been many previews written already by numerous sites regarding which moves the team should make, who should get traded, and who is available for through free agency.
I’m here to bring you a realistic guide to where the team stands as of right now (finances, contracts) and issue some names that could be potential Spurs next season.
Since the season ended, I’ve read numerous scenarios online about trading for Dwight Howard, the possibility of a sign-and-trade for Nene, and even the latest idea from Going Glass of a Tony Parker for Pau Gasol deal.
Ask yourself this – in the Tim Duncan era, when was the last time a major star was brought into the Spurs NOT via the NBA draft?
Your response: _______________________
It’s highly unlikely that a major star will be traded for or sign with San Antonio in this offseason. History speaks that through the Duncan era, the team will only make minor tweaks to the roster. With the exception of the trade for Richard Jefferson, the team stays relatively fiscally sound each offseason.
In other words, the chances of Pau Gasol or Chris Paul in a Spurs uniform is highly doubtful.
The Twelve That Are Here
Here are the Spurs current players under contract and how many years they have with the team. Using Hoopsworld.com’s reference, I also included the clauses on each contract.
1. Tim Duncan: 11-12’ $ 21.2 million (Early Termination Option [E.T.O.])Duncan has multiple choices to choose from this offseason. A.) He can terminate his contract and restructure a new deal at a smaller salary to give the team more cap room. (Keep in mind Duncan has already done this in the past, that’s asking a lot of a player to do it twice in his career.) B.) Should a lockout occur, Duncan would have the choice of calling it a career and riding into Springfield as the greatest power forward to play the game. Or C.) Duncan can play the final year of his contract, and then ponder returning after the 2012 season.
2. Tony Parker: 11-12’ $12.5 million, 12-13’ $12.5 million, 13-14’ $12.5 million, 14-15’ $12.5 million (14-15’ Non-guaranteed). Parker is set to remain with the Spurs for the long haul as his contract has him playing another four seasons.
3. Manu Ginobili: 11-12’ $13 million, 12-13’ $14.1 million.Ginobili has two years under contract with the Spurs. After those two years and depending on the level of play he puts on his body, Ginobili will have to look into continue playing or retiring.
4. Richard Jefferson: 11-12’ $9.3 million, 12-13’ $10.2 million, 13-14’ $11.1 million (13-14’ player option.) If you were the GM of a team, would you want to trade for a player that is declining each season while he’s making $30.6 million over the next three years?
5. Tiago Splitter: 11-12’ $3.7 million, 12-13’ $3.9 million. Splitter showed great signs in the playoffs and with a full season under his belt next season, he should be a force by the time he is ready for a contract extension.
6. Matt Bonner: 11-12’ $3.7 million, 12-13’ $3.7 million, 13-14’ $4 million (13-14’ non-guaranteed).Bonner has an interesting contract; should the team make a trade, his contract makes him a moveable trade chip to assist in any deal. If he isn’t traded, then the Spurs are stuck with a three-point shooter who struggles in the playoffs and is exposed defensively for the next three seasons.
7. James Anderson: 11-12’ $1.5 million, 12-13’ $1.6 million, 13-14’ $2.4 million, 14-15’ $3.5 million. (12-14’ are both team options. 14-15’ is a qualifying offer.) Before being injured six games into the season, Anderson was playing well on both ends of the floor. Beginning with a healthy start next season, Anderson could be putting pressure on Jefferson’s starting forward position.
8. George Hill: 11-12’ $2.9 million, 12-13’ $3.1 million. (12-13’ is a qualifying offer.) Hill continues to flourish as the teams sixth man off the bench. This past season when the Spurs endured injuries and were on a six game losing streak, Hill was the anchor of the squad that kept them close in every game.
9. DeJuan Blair: 11-12’ $986K, 12-13’ $1.1 million. (11-13’ are both non-guaranteed.)Blair started for the half the season, then came off the bench after the All-Star break. The team offense and defense declined statistically when the Blair move was made. In the playoffs, Memphis took advantage of his 6’8 frame on their offensive end and Blair rarely saw playing time after game three (when Tiago Splitter came in.) Blair is still a product that can be molded, a third season under his belt should help regain his lost confidence.
10. Gary Neal: 11-12’ $789K, 12-13’ (Minimum). (11-13’ are both non-guaranteed.)One of the consistent players this season, Neal should look to have a bigger role in the offense next season as the team may look to calling plays for him. Neal will come through when called upon, re-watch game five for proof.
11. Danny Green: 11-12’ $884K. (11-12’ non-guaranteed.) Green is an interesting player; when he does get playing time, he takes advantage of his opportunities. Whether it be creating a steal, making a three or finishing a fast break layup. Mind you, most of his effort came against third tier rosters.
12. DeSean Butler: 11-12’ $789K. (11-12’ non-guaranteed.)It’s still unclear if the Spurs will be getting the Mountaineer before his injury or a player that is still trying to adjust after a career threatning injury? If Butler can be that explosive scorer he was in college, the Spurs will have another late season steal. Butler is worth the gamble next season to see where he is at physically.
With Antonio McDyess retiring, he still had $5.2 million (non-guaranteed) left on his contract. This too makes McDyess a tradable chip.
Chris Quinn and Steve Novak are unrestricted free agents.
Keep in mind that last season the team only had roughly $3.6 million to spend. The 2012 salary cap has not been set yet, so there is no clear indication yet how much money will be available for the team to sign free agents.
Before we dive into the availability pool, I recommend you read this sit down interview with Coach Gregg Popovich conducted by the Express News.
In the interview, Coach Pop mentions the team will be looking for another skilled athlete, a starting four (power forward), and he wants to get back to being defensive minded above all else.
With that in mind, it helped me to narrow down my free agent pool.
The International Route
–Nando De Colo: De Colo is a 6’5, 187lbs, shooting guard. He was drafted by the Spurs in 2009. De Colo recently averaged 10.9ppg, 1.1stl, and shot 60% from 2PT range. Here is a clip of De Colo in action.
Richards looks to be very explosive big man who can also shoot from the perimeter. Watch Richards demolish the rim several times.
The Draft Route
These are a few players the Spurs are said to be scouting for the NBA draft.
–Dario Saric: Saric is a 6’8, 180lbs, 17-year old small forward from Croatia. His passing ability is far advanced for still being a teenager. However, he may not meet the NBA age limit to enter the draft.
–Andrew Goudelock: Goudelock is a 6’2, 200lbs point guard from Charleston. He averaged 23.7ppg, 41% 3PT and had 0.9stl. Goudelock is mainly a three point shooter, but at 6’2 may be undersized.
–Matt Howard: Howard is a 6’8, 225lbs power forward from Butler. He averaged 16.4ppg, 7.7rbd, and shot 40% 3PT. Howard seems too small to play in the post in the NBA and he doesn’t have the foot speed to be a wing player either. His biggest asset is his tenacity and aggressiveness on the glass.
The Free Agent Market
Restricted Free Agents
–SF Jeff Green: 13.3ppg, 45% FG in the season, 44% 3PT in the playoffs.
Green will be tough to pry away from Boston (if they choose to resign him), but should the Spurs send an offer and the Celtics not match; he’d be an upgrade over Richard Jefferson and is still a young player to be molded the right way.
–SF Chris Douglas-Roberts: 7.3ppg, 33% 3PT.
Roberts is another young attacking small forward on the market. Though he isn’t a primary three point shooter, he’d be a player to put the ball on the floor and draw a double team getting into the paint.
–C Greg Oden: 09-10’ 11.1ppg, 8.5rbd, 2.3blk. Since he’s a restricted free agent, it’s worth a shot to send an offer his way and see if Portland matches. It’s a tough call because Oden has been injured through the majority of his career. When he is garnered playing time, he can be a force as his stats have shown.
Unrestricted Free Agents
–C Nenad Kristic: 7’0, 240lbs. 8.1ppg, 4.7rbd, 0.4blk.
Kristic has the size and passing ability that could help the frontline. He isn’t as mobile on defense but can hit the 12-15′ jump shot.
–PF Troy Murphy: Career 11.6ppg, 8.3rbd, 39% 3PT.
It’s hard to tell physically where Murphy is today. He didn’t receive much minutes in Boston even though he chose to sign there instead of San Antonio. Murphy would be an upgrade (height) over Matt Bonner and his length would still at least put another tall big under the basket.
–SG Delonte West: Playoffs 6.6ppg, 0.6stl.
Very hard to see the Spurs go after West as he has had so many off the court issues. But should they look into him, West has the “skilled athlete” ability in his game as he showed averaging 10ppg against the Miami Heat.
–C Joel Pryzbilla: 7’1, 245lbs. Career 4ppg, 6.3rbd.
Pryzbilla is slow on his defensive rotations, limited in scoring on offense, but his height and size would be a major benefit for the Spurs against post positioned teams like the Grizzlies/Lakers.
–SF Anthony Parker: 35 years old, 8.3ppg, 0.9stl, 38% 3PT.
For being as old as he is, Parker would be a consistent upgrade over Richard Jefferson at the wing position. There were rumors that the Spurs were looking into trading for him before the All-Star break, now is their chance to grab the journeyman.
–SG Caron Butler: Career 16.6ppg.
Long shot here, but depending who is going to offer him a contract, he is worth a look as some teams will be hesitant with him coming back from a season ending injury.
–SF Tayshaun Prince: 14.1ppg, 35% 3PT this season.
Prince would be a perfect fit for the the Spurs’ system. Defensive minded, can shoot the three and knows how to play within the team. The question would be is Prince looking for more money or another shot at a title?
–PF Chris Wilcox: 6’10, 235lbs. 7.4ppg, 4.8rbd.
Wilcox is another big man available that could be used as a big man off the bench. He has more size than Bonner and Blair and gives decent production for the time that he’s on the floor.
–SF Al Thornton: 7.4ppg. Not a three-point shooter.
He’s young and athletic, but doesn’t have the three point shot in his game.
–PF Josh McRoberts: 6’10, 240lbs. 7.4ppg, 5.3rbd, 0.8blk.
Another young, tenacious big man that would fit well in the Spurs’ system. He’s not as gifted athletically like Blair, but he hustles just as well and has an extra size advantage.
–SF Jamario Moon: 4.3ppg, 31% 3PT.
Moon is an athletic swingman who the Spurs may want to use on a 10-day contract basis.
–SF Shane Battier: 7.6ppg, 38% 3PT, 0.8stl. Only 32-years old.
The Spurs saw what Battier can still do. He’s a consummate professional, which Coach Pop looks for in the locker room. And as the Spurs saw, he’s still a dangerous three point threat and is still a defensive wing to be dealt with.
–SG Michael Redd: career 20ppg, 38% 3PT.
Another long shot here, but it’s worth throwing Redd an offer after all the injuries he’s endured.
–PF Carl Landry: 6’9, 248. Playoffs 15.8ppg, 5rbd.
Landry is almost the same size as Blair but has established himself as a respectable “little” big man in the league.
–SF Grant Hill: 13.2ppg, 40% 3PT, 0.8stl. 38-years old. Two seasons ago the Spurs pushed hard to sign Hill, he chose Phoenix instead. Hill continues to produce today despite his age. He’d be another upgrade over Jefferson for everything he will bring to the floor and locker room.
–C Samuel Dalembert: 6’11, 250lbs. 8.1ppg, 8.2rbd, 1.5blk.
Dalembert is an interesting player, he’d really help the Spurs’ frontline on the defensive end. Him and Duncan could make the paint a “no driving” zone as it used to be in the past. The question is will Dalembert be looking for more money or the chance at a title?
–C Kyrylo Fresenco: 7’1, 280lbs. 2ppg, 2rbd.
He’s a raw big man, but his size and potential to be molded shows good signs.
–SF Andrei Kirilenko: 11.7ppg, 5.1rbd, 37% 3PT, 1.2blk, 1.3stl.
Kirilenko would be another major pick up for the Spurs. He’s defensive minded, knows how to produce without the ball and has discipline as he was coached his entire career under Jerry Sloan (until last season.)
–SF Josh Howard: 8.4ppg, 24% 3PT, 0.7stl.
Howard would be a roll of the dice for two reasons: he is coming off injury problems over several seasons and he has had several off the court issues.
There are manageable trades that can be put together, but most would involve Richard Jefferson’s contract. A name I read was Stephen Jackson (03’ winning Spur), but the question there again would be if an owner would be willing to take the Jefferson trade bait?
Closing the Guide
I don’t see the Spurs making any major moves in the offseason. I think Jefferson will be on the trade block until February but I highly doubt he gets dealt due to his contract. I see the Spurs bringing in one big man, and allowing Anderson and Butler to grow as the athletic scorer/ defenders on the wing.
This core of 12-players won 61 games and lost in round one, it’ll be interesting to see if they can have more success being a defensive minded club next season. Time will tell.
Follow Paul on Twitter: @24writer