The following started out as a simple reply to a reply that PtR member Spurchief posited to AusTechSpur (Wayne) on Matthew’s last post. Follow all that? Good. As is my nature, my answer grew longer and longer, so I decided to make an entry out of it, partly to defend Matthew a bit (not that he needs defending for anything but his personal life) and partly because I’ve grown weary of seeing the same post headlining our sweet blog for a week.
Spurchief wrote to Wayne:
..but you have normally weighed in with rational viewpoints and this one is no exception. I don’t think this position is much different than Powell’s but he is much more indignant about the lack of moves by the FO than you (or I are). I choose to believe that the lack of progress by the FO is not the result of intent, but a lack of opportunities to improve given the parameters of:
1. Don’t exceed the cap
2. Find a guy who fits, chemistry-wise
3. Ability to defend is important
4. Defer to the Big 3 offensively
5. The team has to be contenders every year
Who in the last 3 years of free agency has fit that bill? And as for the draft, while I agree that RC’s rep is overblown in this regard (although a great season by Ian may change that), most rookies don’t make an impact and SA needed immediate impact (see #5 above).”
I never had pie-in-the-sky dreams for someone such as Maggette. All I wanted was Azuibuike and I think he would've fit in perfectly fine with conditions 1 thru 5 on your post. Anyway, it appears that's not happening now, and when the Clippers front office is more forward thinking than ours is (getting Camby for nothing? I mean, WTF?), it may indeed be a sign of the apocalypse.
So far all we know is that the Spurs drafted three young guys and signed another relatively young one in Roger Mason.
Now we have to play the waiting game. We'll have to be patient to find out if A) Pop and the FO drafted guys worth drafting in Hill, Gist and Hairston, B) if they have the guts to put a couple of second rounders (or maybe even an undrafted guy such as Powell or Tolliver) on the regular season roster and C) if Pop has the patience to ever play them (as well as Mahinmi) when the games count, instead of "proven" i.e. old and slow, veterans.
Past track record and all available evidence suggest that the answer to all three questions will be a big, huge, sloppy, NO.
I'm not sure if I'm on the same page with Matty, Wayne or the majority of PtR with their offseason wish-lists or battle plans. Obviously, some opinions matter more to me than others, but I haven't taken the time to research what everyone here thinks we should do and don't plan on doing so.
I think that Matthew's point in this post was that for some time now there has been a massive talent gap between the third best player on the roster and the fourth best and as our entire roster, especially the role players, continue to age, the gap continues to widen, which is not good, as I hope everyone would agree. The best chance for the Spurs to win a title in '08 and beyond is for the gap to narrow. Our fourth best player has to be able to hold Tony Parker's jockstrap, figuratively speaking (although if he literally wanted to do so, it would certainly create an interesting new angle on the team's locker room dynamic that would, I am certain, make the Spurs all of a sudden more "interesting" to ESPN and bloggers worldwide).
Anyway, the Spurs are going to stay under the cap. You know it, we know it, everyone knows it. To wish otherwise is akin to wishing for a bigger winky - grow up already, because it's just not going to happen. For the team to field a fourth (or fifth, or God help us, sixth) guy who can actually play he'll have to be young. Young players come cheap because they're not who they will be yet, known commodities, and with them you're just basically hoping and guessing. Veteran players who've proven themselves in the NBA are expensive. If you find yourself a cheap veteran player, like the Spurs have filled out their rosters with all these years, then guess what? It means, with the odd exception here or there, the guy sucks.
I don't think either Matthew or I are guilty of not having the proper respect and reverence for the past four titles. We're very thankful, believe me and personally, living in the Bay Area, I know it could be much, much worse. Here, people soil themselves just for making the playoffs and the Warriors have never been a legitimate contender in my two decades of following basketball.
I'm not going to cry or act like an asshole if the Spurs never win another one, but that doesn't mean I can't still root for them to win and criticize those responsible when I feel they're making mistakes. Pop's legacy is assured. For that matter so is Robert Horry's and Michael Finley's. Their lives will not be affected one way or another by me caring about their follies or foibles.
The point is, I have to care about their fuckups and call them on it. I have to. If I stop caring about it, then why be a fan in the first place? Why write about it? Blogging is no place for a "C'est la vie" attitude.
As Duncan and Manu continue to age, we need more help from the rest of the roster, not less. Barry had a good run as a Spur and Horry and Finley were serviceable. The time has come from new blood and the answer is youth, not experience. Our big three hid the weaknesses of the others by being young and in their prime. That luxury is gone forever and now a new formula is needed. Whoever will be the savior for the Spurs, if such a person exists, he will not be over 30 years old. For years now the big three have had to compensate for the lack of athleticism of their teammates, a task that has grown more difficult with their owned diminishing physical ability. I think they would welcome the chance and the opportunity for once to be the less athletic than their teammates and to instead compensate for their experience. You can teach people how to play team ball, you can't teach them how to run and jump.
While it appears that the Spurs have shown more commitment and willingness to give younger unknowns a chance this year, they haven't said they will do so definitively and the front office hasn't exactly established a track record of being honest with the press, especially the non-local press. Not that I blame them, as most of the non-local press are fucktards. Still, the only reason the Spurs now have all these roster openings this year for younger players is because not enough precautions were taken two years ago or last year during the off-season. The front office gambled with old, crappy players instead of mining for youth and exercising some patience, and two of the past three years, no matter how the losses transpired, the bottom line is they lost.
I'm not bitter about how 2008 ended the way I was about 2006. I'm convinced Pop blew that one with his Van Exel over Udrih foolishness, as well as his over reliance on Tinyball. 2008 was different, maybe less unavoidable, for a variety of circumstances. I just want to make sure that the front office has learned from past mistakes, that's all, and I think Matthew would tell you the same thing.