The San Antonio Spurs may see familiar face blocking their path to success in the NBA Postseason – Oklahoma City Thunder and TNT's Charles Barkley agrees. During an interview on the Dan Patrick Show, "The Chuckster" was discussing legitimate title contenders and according to him, he has a few teams in mind which include the Spurs.
“The Heat in the East and the Spurs and Oklahoma City in the West. Those are the three teams that have a legitimate shot at winning the championship. I don’t want to count Memphis out. I think we have to give Memphis a chance, so there’s three teams in the West and one team in the East and the second team (in the East), it depends on if Derrick Rose comes back. Those are the five.”
Considering the Thunder bested the Spurs in last season's playoffs, it is no doubt OKC will remain a prime threat to the Spurs' march to title number five.
With Kevin Durant. Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Co., OKC is young, hungry and now have the confidence they can beat the Spurs in a seven-game series. However, Barkley cannot discount the Clippers as a threat to OKC and San Antonio.
The Clippers are young, athletic, and have remained a unit without much addition and subtraction to the roster. Now with Chris Paul rounding into form after injury and boasting an improved bench, the Spurs will have to look out for the Clips in the playoffs.
So to minimize any potential upset at the hands of these two team, the Spurs would be greatly benefited in pulling off a trade deadline deal with either the Utah Jazz for Al Jefferson, the Atlana Hawks for Josh Smith, or maybe the Orlando Magic for J.J. Redick.
The Orlando option might give the Spurs the best chance of retaining Tiago Splitter (seeing Redick won't be looking for a huge payday) while still adding more scoring from the perimeter and make the team stronger going down the road. But does the team need more shooters considering Gary Neal and Patty Mills can already provide an outside shooting threat as J.J. can?
The other two trade scenarios would be more towards a "win-now" option and sending Duncan off with a title like they did for David Robinson. Along with having to avoid possibly over paying or giving up too much in return, it will seem Splitter would have to be added and are the Spurs willing to part with a big man who has finally understood the Spurs' system remains to be seen.
As the trade deadline approaches, the question becomes do you want to win now and have Duncan ride off in to the sunset or set the Spurs up for another extended run as a title contender? And if the Spurs do walk away with the crown this season, it may be one of the only times Spurs fans will love for Chuck to be right.