As you know, I have my own blog about stuff aside of the Spurs, but I do write about them consistently as a fan. Here's a post on my site about the trade yesterday. Thanks fellas.
Nothing could compare to yesterday. Not anything since the unexpected 2007 NBA Title run when I believed we were destined to lose to the Suns before Horry hip-checked Steve Nash into the NBA Playoffs on TNT sign. Nothing.
June 24th, 2009 gave me the type of event that ‘might’ (I stress that work) make me forget about Fisher on Barry, Manu’s injury and Jason ‘The Paper Plane’ Terry running his mouth and spreading his wings all over the AT&T Center. But that all depends on the results it produces.
It was just another day at work. I was on AIM with a friend who’s a big Knick fan. We were going back and forth about how Brandon Jennings would handle NY if he was drafted here when he interjected:
‘Bro are you on ESPN.Com’
‘Not as we speak.’
‘Do you want to go or do you want me to break the news to you about the team I thought was finished?’
‘Which team? Wait, don’t tell me the Spurs made a trade? You can’t be enthusiastic about us if we got that salary cap killer Vince. Who is it?’
‘Welcome Richard Jefferson to the Spurs for Bowen, Oberto, and Kurt.’
My first reaction to this news was: ‘Isn’t this the same Richard Jefferson I couldn’t stand during the 2003 NBA Finals. The one that talks like he’s a top 20 player, but more like top 40-60 (but is 35th highest paid in league). The same RJ I called over-rated. The one who I lumped into the ‘Kidd Product’ category?’ Yes this was the RJ we traded for.
The second reaction was: ‘Alright Kurt and Oberto are gone. I know despite their minor contributions to our run, that we as Spurs fans never had much of an emotional attachment to them. But Bruce? Damn…we got to give up Bruce?’
Now any Spurs fan knows whether they are deep in the heart of Texas or up here in NY as I am, that there were three options for Bruce as we noticed in this years playoffs.
#1 Come back this year with the Spurs (if not traded) and play minimal minutes. Be a class act and wonder why Kobe, Lebron and company are torching Finely and Pop isn’t giving me minutes.
#2 Get traded this off-season because of my attractive salary.
#3 Get dumped at the trade deadline for some mega-star wing player or big man.
Option #2 and #3 occurred though I wouldn’t call the wing player we landed a ‘mega-star.’ But its better than having Vince shoot fadeaway threes for the next three years and become as cancerous as our fellow Texan and his cousin T-Mac right?
For all the joys of yesterday, sadness was an overwhelming emotion. When you’re a small market team, you are used to the same faces. These guys were basically part of my family. This wasn’t the Knicks or the Yankees; this was the Spurs. We don’t trade, sign, release. We sign and keep. I built a love/hate relationship with all these guys; but a lasting one in the end.
This was a team with the same 3 centerpieces for the last six years. A team who had a majority of their players from the last two championship runs. We can blame it on our small salary cap, but I put it all on the loyalty Pop and RC had for their players.
Many times throughout the last decade, we got sick of Pop depending on old, tired legs. We felt his loyalty to players who have run their course was laughable to outsiders and frustrating to us. But we didn’t say much when Finley played like he was 10 years younger the last two months of the season. When Oberto would show minor flashes through some important games; and when Kurt, despite his lack of lateral movement, still showed up and provided toughness and that soft jumper from 15 feet. But I still can’t wrap my head around the idea that #12 might be worn by someone else. Someone who can’t fill those shoes.
Now, before I go too far, let’s first rule out the scenario that he might return if Milwaukee buys him out. Let us not ever forget that this was the guy that gave us the answer to Kobe Bryant. A man who wasn’t afraid of him nor a guy 6 inches taller than him in Dirk. The man who rained 3’s on the Lakers in the playoffs that one year. A man who irritated every shooting guard in the league without saying a word to them. Let’s go down the list - Allen, Martin, Carter, Terry, Francis and McGrady. Everyone except Kobe was psychologically affected by him. Don’t forget his karate kid episodes with Amare and Paul. You just have to love him.
But most importantly, this was a man who has contributed to the local community and is as much a representation of our organization as our franchise player is. But at the end of the day, we can all be real with ourselves and say that Bruce was on his last legs. His defense wasn’t there, Pop took him out of the rotation, and his salary was coveted. What happened yesterday was expected. But there’s still the slight possibility that he comes back after the Bucks cut him and retires a Spur. It would be exactly what the basketball God’s want.
But the Basketball God’s haven’t shone brightly on us these last two years after securing close to half the titles this past decade. Everything from injuries (Manu) to refereeing (Barry’s foul) to last second fluke shots hurt us (Fisher). But has ‘change’ finally come to San Antonio?
Yes it has and its not in the presence of just Richard Jefferson, but the Spurs front office’ willingness to make a trade for a high-salaried wing player they’ve been petrified of doing for years. A come to grips realization that we can’t just depend on Manu or Fin-Dog to turn back the hands of time.
So in light of the trade, the question we now ask in jest is: ‘Did the Spurs pull a Chris Wallace on Milwaukee’s new GM David Kahn?’ Yes and No.
Yes because the impact Richard Jefferson can have on the Spurs; a team with already the best trio in basketball could result in a title.
No because the Bucks made a financial move that makes sense for them. They can either bring some veteran players in to mentor and mix in with their youth; or they can cut all these players loose and look forward to the 2010 free agent class. But who wants to go to cold Milwaukee anyway? Even with Brett Favre no longer in the spotlight, it doesn’t seem attractive.
- Richard Jefferson provides us with an athletic swingman who has defensive ability. Is it the same as it was for the Nets when they were tops in PPA early this decade? No. He’s gotten older and he played in Milwaukee which will decimate anyone’s penchant for defense. But under the Popovich regime and with a chance to win a title, attitudes change. Just ask one of the NBA’s biggest knuckleheads, but Spurs resident angel Stephen Jackson.
- Despite his many years in the league, for the last two seasons (knock on wood), he has been extremely durable and hasn’t missed a game. This is extremely important for us especially considering how Pop loves to sit down Duncan at times; and how Manu has a lot of mileage on him. It gives us another scorer to depend on in these situations.
- He has playoff experience. You can’t buy that; just ask Orlando.
- Its only a 2 year deal. The deal ends a year before Duncan’s contract is up and if we want to make one last shot with TD again, we can trade him for another valuable piece.
- It basically scraps our 2010 summer free agent plan. The 2011 and 2012 free agent crop is weak and unless someone is demanding a trade we’d be interested in, then we’re stuck with this team for years to come.
Concerning this year’s class, It would be hard to bring folks to quiet, old San Antonio anyway. But, we did get a bunch of guys to come here for less like Finley, Hedo and Derek Anderson. AAt this point, all we can do is reel in someone with our MLE. Just please don’t let it be Rasheed. Please…
- So we are banking our championship hopes on RJ and possibly bringing some old dog, big man to support Duncan. Why am I bit pessimistic?
- So now we have a big four, but what else? Let’s be real - We don’t have any idea what Miahmini will provide us with. The only two options we know we’ll have off the bench depending on lineups is Manu/Mason and George Hill.
With a team like the Lakers and Denver, we have to go 9-10 deep atleast to counter them. I’m not sure we are there yet despite my belief we are the #2 team in the West right now.
- RJ is on the downside of his career. I know, I know, he isn’t being asked to do much in terms of scoring. But he’s been in the league for plenty of years and has been to the playoffs numerous times. As the years pass, we will notice he isn’t the high flyer he used to be. Oh, and God knows the man hasn’t learned how to pass a ball with Ramon Sessions or Jason Kidd as floor leaders with him for over half a thousand games. Passing is integral to our offense so let’s hope he is as unturnover prone as he was in Milwaukee.
- I think Pop and RC overestimated his 3 point shooting. Fine it was at 39 percent last year in Milwaukee. But is that something we can expect on a normal basis or is it a fluke? I don’t think Jeffersons 3 point shooting from all parts of the court will ever be as valuable to us as Bruce’s in the corner which was spot on.
The arrival of RJ should mean one thing and one thing only; that’s that we now have another slasher. Forget him buying property at the 3 point line. We haven’t had a high flyer since Derek Anderson. We need RJ to be the high flying RJ. Not the 3 point bombing RJ.
- I fear what this means for our beloved Manu. Does this mean if Manu has a stellar comeback year, we won’t be able to afford him? Is this the Spurs way of saying goodbye to possibly the most loved player in our franchise outside of TD and Drob ever? I sure hope it isn’t.
The last thing I want is the Spurs to look at this trade as a durability one and if Manu decides to walk, we have someone younger and more healthier than him. Look, I don’t care how much younger or more durable he is than Manu; when Manu is healthy, he’s a top 15 player in this league - like it or not he is. Just don’t let Manu go. He deserves to get his ransom and retire a Spur like Gwynn did with the Padres.
My biggest fear:
That our defensive philosophy is poof vamoose and Pop saw a bit too much of Stan Van Gundy’s Magic this offseason. If he thinks for one second that:
will win us a title, then he’s as clueless as he was for points on the sidelines for some of this past post-season. I fear that lineup is starting to look like one we all detested:
Now we may be more talented than that lineup. But tell me you don’t see the similarities. To me, they are eerily similar and we all know how far those Phoenix teams went.
Look, I don’t mind seeing fast breaks, but I don’t want to see them half of the game either. I don’t want Duncan to become an afterthought in this offense. I don’t want Mason, Jeff, Manu and Bonner to become our Lewis, Turkoglu, Alston and Pietrus. I want no part of that.
The only reason aside from Manu being out that we didn’t beat Dallas is because we weren’t big enough. For God sakes, Ryan Hollins was screaming on us. Until we get help for Duncan and I’m not talking about scoring, but defensive help, we will not win another title. That’s a face.
Say what you want about Rasho and Nazr, but in those two title years, they did what was asked of them. With the Red Rocket Matt Bonner guarding the paint, there is no chance we will win another title. Not with Rasheed or Dyess either. We need a shot blocking big reminiscent of David in his older years. Not a outside shooting big man who is past his prime.
Let’s look at the options:
Now those aren’t the most attractive names, but all we need them for is rebounding, shot-blocking and to mentor Miahmini. If we don’t go after any of these guys, please let’s not draft another 5 year project center from Europe who will never sign with us i.e. Tiago Splitter.
In the end, its funny because everyone claims that with this trade the Spurs are now the #2 team in the West. But as Spurs fans, we all know, #2 isn’t enough. We were the #2 seed this year and look where it got us. I wouldn’t be surprised if we got far next year; but not as far as us spoiled Spurs fans are used to. We’re not into progress, we’re into championships.