This article is intended to give an in-depth overview of the San Antonio Spurs offseason, including the NBA Draft, free agency, and Summer League.
August 01, 2008
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NBA, NBA Southwest, San Antonio Spurs, History
A Spurs Offseason in Review
My expectations leading up to this offseason weren't very high. Names like Mickael Pietrus, Jannero Pargo, and Carlos Delfino sounded golden to me. I didn't expect the Spurs to make any big moves, so when tj#11 wrote on my wall one day telling me that the Spurs were going to get Corey Maggette and Ben Gordon, I tried to keep my cool.
I ran the cap numbers for the Spurs at the beginning of the offseason, and I was almost positive they were going to be around $8 or $9 million under the cap threshold, but I turned out to be wrong. I overlooked the fact that the further along a player gets in his contract, the more money he makes. Obviously this was the reason the Spurs only had the MLE and BAE to offer. Still, I was excited at the prospect of adding explosiveness on the perimeter, and for a while I thought it could be a possibility.
I grew more and more anxious, as talks of Baron Davis and Elton Brand teaming up with each other in Los Angeles swept the league, meaning that Corey Maggette would join a market not intended for a player wanting a lot of money. He began saying that he wanted to win, and could end up taking a deal for the full mid-level exception, and San Antonio was the frontrunner.
Some were even saying that if Ben Gordon got offered the full MLE from another team, the Chicago Bulls would not match. Though I found that highly doubtful, I couldn't help but get my hopes up.
Then, Maggette signed with the Golden State Warriors for $50 million over five years. I obviously couldn't blame him for going after the money; after all, the market for him was terrible, he couldn't get any offers for what he's really worth.
When a team gives you nearly twice what you would make with another team, it doesn't matter if you can win a championship with that other team. Nine times out of ten, the athlete will go after the money. I was disheartened by this unforgiving news, but I still had Ben Gordon as my hope for bringing another championship to San Antonio.
Those hopes were shattered with the signing of Wizards guard Roger Mason Jr. I didn't watch much of Washington last season, so I wasn't sure how good this signing was. Billtimore and Bueno were raving about his abilities in the Wizards forum, and how big of a loss he was for the team.
Even then, I couldn't help feeling like we made a bad decision. I didn't know what his defense looked like. His scoring was solid, but I felt we should have gotten a better player. Sure, Gordon was a long-shot, and rumors of the Bulls not matching his offer could have been false, but I would have loved him as a sixth man or starter at shooting guard. He would have provided versatility and explosiveness on the perimeter to the Spurs, something they lacked tremendously last season outside of Parker and Ginobili.
I was soon able to get over missing out on Gordon, and instead focused on the Spurs' Summer League squad. I wasn't impressed by first round pick George Hill's shooting performance, but his penetrating abilities and defense were able to (somewhat) make up for my lack of intrigue of his play.
He still looked like he needed to adjust to the point guard position, but he showed some promise if he would work on that shot. Second round pick James Gist impressed me with his energy and athleticism, and free agent Anthony Tolliver was a very consistent threat to hit three-pointers on the perimeter (as a post), and he would eventually sign a contract with the Spurs rewarding his solid performance. I was not impressed at all by the play of Malik Hairston, whom we traded for in the second round.
Ian Mahinmi was probably the most exciting young player that I got a chance to watch. He still seemed a little raw, which is to be expected at his age, but he showed promise, with his great length and athleticism. He played hard with energy, and he looked like he could be a solid addition to the big man rotation.
Though he seemed like he could be a regular in the big man rotation, I still felt like we needed to bring in another big man. We were able to re-sign Thomas, but I still felt like we needed more. Anthony Tolliver was signed to a contract, and that pretty much ruined any hopes I had of getting another big man next to Duncan.
Today, I'm confident that the Spurs have their roster settled, and aren't going to make any more additions (via free agency; trade is still a possibility). Michael Finley is expected to be re-signed, but other than that I see us staying put with what we have.
San Antonio currently has six post players, so even though we have money left over, I don't see us adding to that number anytime soon. A sign & trade with New Jersey would be intriguing, as we could net restricted free agent Nenad Krstic to play next to Duncan and stretch the floor. I don't see the Nets agreeing to that offer, however, and due to our lack of trading assets outside of The Big Three, we likely won't be adding another big name.
My grade for the Spurs offseason so far would be a B. We actually managed to put ourselves in contention for a couple of big-name free agents, but we weren't able to close a deal. We added a young guard in Roger Mason Jr. that should help us score on the perimeter, and we were able to go "out with the old, in with the new". We look to have fresher legs for the upcoming season, but I'm still not sure if these additions will get us back to the NBA Finals. The Lakers and Hornets still look stronger, but with a healthy big three, I think anything can happen.