Watching the 2012-13 Boston Celtics get gutted like a freshly caught trout got me thinking about when does a team know it is time to dismantle the pieces that have brought them glory and titles.
Some teams (Bulls, current Celtics) have chosen the path of trading their aging superstars while they still have value to get younger assets, while others (1980s Lakers, Pistons and Celtics) have chosen to the path of making sure that their legends never wear the jersey of another team.
The trade for assets or hang on to core players question has been mulled over by the Spurs front office.
The decision has already been made that the only jersey Tim Duncan will wear will be a Spurs jersey.
For Manu Ginobili, there have been opinions, during the last two regular seasons and during this season’s playoff, that the time to cut ties is upon us with the likes of Danny Green, Larry Neal and Kawhi Leonard stepping up and appearing ready to step in to a leading role with the team.
The Spurs need to keep in mind that appearing to have and actually having an ace in the hole are two completely different things.
While the Spurs have always said their goal is to compete for championships, their philosophy of building through the draft rather than free agency has predicated the Spurs reliance on the "Big Three”. So this requires that the player(s) who will be replacing Ginobili are battle tested before deciding to let someone, who was a key component for three of the four title banners hanging at the AT&T Center, walk out the door.
During the past two regular seasons, the supporting players have showed that they are more than capable of picking up the slack for the "Big Three” and have drawn interest from other teams who are looking to get over the hump (see George Hill).
But the playoffs have shown, they are not completely prepared for the big stage of the Conference and the NBA Finals. Their poor level of play has caused Greg Popovich to decrease their minutes or just have them sit on the bench for the entire game.
Leonard stepped up big in the Finals; and showed he is most likely the newest part of the "Big Three” version 2.0, but he is still a year or so away from completely assuming role on both ends of the floor.
The NBA Finals were pretty much a summation of Ginobili’s career. Starts off showing flashes but makes crucial mistakes that make you want to pull out your hair. But when you need him the most, he puts on a performance that demonstrates his true brilliance and carries the team to victory.
The Finals would not have reached Game 7 had Manu Ginobili been part of any trade deadline deal.
So Spurs’ fans, do you think the Spurs need to make sure that Ginobili will never need to search for a new jersey to wear?