Theo Ratliff is a San Antonio Spur!!!! Fire up the outboard on your river float. Another championship is coming our way! What? You don't think Theo is the missing piece of the puzzle?For your listening pleasure while you read, I present Radio Citizen featuring Bajka doing The Hop. I really like Bajka. I didn't select this for any reason. It is what started playing on Radio Paradise when I started writing this.
Now, About That Roster
With the signing of Theo Ratliff, the Spurs have 15 guys under contract for the 09-10 season. However, the common belief is that Malik Hairston and Marcus Williams have unguaranteed contracts. Odds are, the Spur have the option on these until after training camp. However, that is just speculation on my part. I'm not sure when their contract guarantee dates are. The current roster is:
- Tim Duncan
- Tony Parker
- Manu Ginobili
- Richard Jefferson
- Antonio McDyess
- George Hill
- Roger Mason
- Michael Finley
- Matt Bonner
- Ian Mahinmi
- DeJuan Blair
- Marcus Haislip
- Theo Ratliff
- Marcus Williams
- Malik Hairston
Lots of discussion has arisen regarding Theo being our 7th big. I'm not sure it really can be seen as much of anything. I don't think it is an indicator of future moves. I think it was more a case of something that was the best thing to do at the time. Here's why.
I can't speak to Theo Ratliff's skills and whether or not he fits the Spurs system. If the Spurs front office signed him, I have to think they think he will be useful. You know, because that is what they do and it is NOT what I do. I give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to evaluating talent and how it fits their system. I'm benevolent like that. You may bow before me and my magnanimosity (I spelled that correctly without even looking it up. Score).
What I can say, is that he was CHEAP. He signed for the veteran minimum. He's an old vet, which means the league picks up the tab on like half his salary. Maybe it doesn't even count against the luxury tax which makes him that much more of a bargain.
The Spurs System and Balance of Skills
Before bashing the front office for signing a 7th big, I think you have to look at how the Spurs seem to put pieces together. In general, over the last few years, the Spurs have constructed the roster so that we didn't have many duplicate parts. Different people brought different things and nobody was redundant.
In many ways, the Spurs consider their 4's and 5's to be interchangeable so I don't think it is worth breaking down into PF and C. The fact that we call Matt Bonner a center is proof enough.
In the front court, Kurt Thomas was a banger and had a mid-range jumper. Fab was a banger with passing ability and no jumper. Matt Bonner had 3-point range. Francisco was a jumper who could run.
Last year we had: Tim, Matt, Kurt, Fab, Ian, and Drew Gooden
This year, up front, with Tim are Antonio, Matt, Ian, DeJuan, Marcus, and Theo. We have quite the variety of skills and a little more depth. In addition, Haislip can be considered a 3/4. Last year we didn't have a 3/4.
The Spurs also use their 2's and 3's pretty interchangeably. On the wing, Bruce played tenacious D and hit the corner three. Ime was a power defender who could handle the rare powerful small forward that gave Bruce problems. Brent Barry was the 3-point specialist who could pass and was good if the other team didn't have a wing that required a good defender. We were as likely to see Manu and Finley as Manu and Barry or Finley and Bruce.
I think the place we got the extra room for the 7th big is at the point guard. We have always carried three point guards. Three true point guards. Tony, Nick, Beno. Tony, Beno, The JV. Tony, George, The JV. Ok, I'm busted. George isn't quite a true point guard, but I think he is close. NOTE: I use true point guard and not pure point guard. By true point guard, I only mean somebody who adept at getting the ball up the court and the team into their offense. For all the knocks we throw at Tony, you can't pressure him. He would destroy you.
This year, we have Tony and George. In addition, two of our wings are capable of running the point as well. Both Roger Mason and Manu can get the ball up court and the team into their offense. With that flexibility, I think the Spurs front office felt they didn't need to sign the third point guard. NOTE: I know Tim at 48MoH is big on Marcus Williams as a point forward. I'm not hopping on that bus until I see him do it a few times. Even if it is in the preseason. I'll acknowledge that Tim has me intrigued and I would like to see it, but I'm not counting as a yardbird just yet.
I think it is method. I think we used the extra point guard spot freed up from the flexibility of our guards to add some flexibility and insurance to our frontcourt.
We have a lot of youth in our frontcourt and we have a lot of age in our frontcourt. I don't think we can expect a lot of production out of Blair, Mahinmi, and Haislip. I'll take it. I just don't think we can count on it. I don't think we can expect a lot of minutes out of Tim, Antonio, and Theo. And, in fact, I won't take it. I don't want them a logging a lot of minutes this season. I want them to be healthy at playoff time.
If you think about it, their isn't a lot of redundancy. Maybe Theo and Ian would be providing similar things. Maybe Haislip and Bonner are providing similar things. If Ian and Marcus end up being good enough to make Theo and Bonner not useful, that's a good thing, right?
I think the 7th big is a very good thing. I don't think it is costing us anything from our squad by doing it.