NBA Legend and Hall of Famer
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Land of 16 NBA Championships
Actually, I just found this in "hoops world dot com."
Spurs Throw in for Bonzi Wells
By Bill Ingram
Jul 29, 2006, 14:37
There are two schools of thought when it comes to the San Antonio Spurs' offseason. The first goes something like this: The Spurs, who finished the season at 63-19 with the best record in the Western Conference, should make as few changes as possible. Maybe make a tweak here, a tweak there, and try to duplicate the success of last season. After all, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili are the primary players and as long as they're in place the Spurs will be contenders again in 2006-07.
The second school of thought goes like this: The Dallas Mavericks gave the Spurs a run for their money in the race for the best record in the Western Conference, and may have lost out due to injuries more than anything else. If the Mavs are healthy next season can the Spurs, who ultimately lost to a healthy Mavs team in the playoffs, hope to maintain their advantage in the regular season without making any significant improvements?
I know the Spurs are high on Jackie Butler and Francisco Elson, but from a neutral point of view it's hard to understand where there is any advantage here. Rasho was more expensive, so the Spurs saved some money, but if Popovich is going to try to beat the Mavs at their own game instead of forcing them to play Spurs basketball, the end result will be the same - because Pop won't use these centers, either. Nazr was a much better player than either of the new Spurs' big men, yet he couldn't seem to get playing time under Pop's confusing second round rotation. Frankly, the reason Nazr told HOOPSWORLD that he left San Antonio was because he didn't know for sure that he would have a role. Considering the Spurs had just traded away their only other center, that's a significant statement.
The Spurs have not improved yet this summer, and time is running out. Eric Williams is hardly an impact player. Matt Bonner is a great locker room guy, but does he make you a better team? Doubtful. Michael Finley is a year older, Robert Horry looked a decade older in the playoffs, and the highly-touted Fabricio Oberto seemed to be join the forgotten men (Rasho, Nazr) on the end of the bench. So it's safe to say the Spurs have not yet made any major improvements.
What are they waiting for?
Frankly we do have to give them some credit for trying. Francisco Elson was not their first choice - it's just that Ben Wallace, Alonzo Mourning, and even Joel Przybilla (?) all said no. If the Spurs had managed to lure Wallace or Mourning we wouldn't be having this conversation. Instead we'd be singing the praises of the Spurs' front office and marveling at how they always seem to get the best players and be the odds-on favorite to win it all at the beginning of the season. But that's not where we are.
On Friday we learned that the Spurs have thrown their hat in the race to sign the only remaining big-name free agent: Bonzi Wells. The Spurs know better than any other team what Bonzi's value is, as he was the reason some pundits began predicting a first-round loss for the Spurs. Bonzi was nothing short of a Spurs killer in the first round, averaging 23.2 points, shooting 61% from the field and grabbing 12 rebounds per game.
The Spurs are not the front-runners for Wells, but they are now officially on the radar. The question now becomes whether Wells would rather play with his buddy Jermaine O'Neal in Indiana, as was originally planned, or play for a title in San Antonio, Miami, or Detroit.
The Kings are open to a sign-and-trade, meaning the Spurs could unload some of their redundant talent. Brent Barry's name has been mentioned in almost every trade rumor involving the Spurs, but more recently Oberto and Beno Udrih have been on the table in discussions, as well.
One thing's for sure - the Spurs haven't yet made the deal that makes them better than division rival Dallas. The Mavericks have made some nice upgrades, locked Jason Terry in for the foreseeable future, and had a solid draft. They have not been content to stand pat. There is no question they have improved. It may be that Bonzi Wells is the only way left for the Spurs to keep pace with their Texas Triangle rivals.