Recently over at 48MOH Timmothy Varner touched on what kind of asset Tiago Splitter is to be for our Spurs. We won't be seeing him on the court until 2010-2011 season so many fans are clamoring to cash in on his value now via trade.
The fear in trading Splitter is that the return will be mediocre and when Tiago does arrive in the NBA he'll be comparable to Luis Scola; a big who is exactly what the Spurs are in need of. Splitter does not seem to be a type of guy who will just service as a band aid(YB) for our festering wound that is the Spurs other starting big man. Tiago is most likely the cure to every controllable aspect that went wrong the last 2 seasons. Many of us (me included) felt we would have gotten past the Lakers in '08 if Manu had normal functioning ankles and while there are less who speculated that with a healthy Manu we would have made it to the promise land this year, it is still safe to say we would have had at least a punchers chance to win it all. Add in Splitter to the equation and the '08 chip is ours even with a hobbled Manu and would have been front runners for another title this year.
So why dare trade Splitter? I think the dilemma isn't whether or not Splitter can and will fit in with our Big Three but that by the time he gets here it will be too late. I'm not so concerned with Duncan's body breaking down as much as I am Manu's. Tim's game is so efficient that he will be effective as his athleticism declines. Lets face it he's never been the most athletic guy anyway. Manu on the other hand relies heavily on a sort of game that puts his body through torture. He doesn't take a play off ever and the day he becomes a stand still spot up shooter is the day he is no longer The Sickness. I fully expect Manu to return next season and be close to what we're used to seeing: driving through, around and over defenders, step back jumpers, Pistol Pete-esq passes, and causing havoc on defense. He's been accurately described as a swiss army knife type player; a statistical freak. But After next season though what? We have to face the fact that he's on the decline.
It's time to start thinking of Manu as the window-not Tim. And if we consider things in those terms then trading Splitter seems like the best thing to do. Splitter gives teams instant cap relief as they won't have to pay him a cent till 2010-2011 and in these econnomic times cap relief is an easy sell. Couple that with the fact that Splitter is expected to transition to the NBA with great ease and we have a valuable trading piece on our hands. Trading Tiago for a mid to late first round pick in this years suspect draft is too risky but if we can get a Villanueva type player I say pull the trigger. How say you?