Shhh! Do you hear that? Ya, me neither. Silence. Silence from our front office is something that we as Spurs fans have become somewhat accustomed to over the years. Our patentience in the face of such silence has time and time again been rewarded with great suprises. Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe that what we are experiencing right now is the calm before a storm. So follow me past the jump, cause I smell a trade-a-brewing...
Being the product of a public education, I'm accustomed to writing my thoughts down in a 5 paragraph essay format with a preview in the intro, 3 seperate points for body paragraphs, and a nice rosey conclusion at the end. And while that format is useful, it sucks and I hate it. That being said, here's a little preview. First I'll touch on why I think our current position indicates that a trade is on the horizon, then I'll talk about why the Spurs ought to pull the trigger on some kind of trade, and finally I'll look at some possible scenarios which I think would be plausable trades for us to complete before the season starts. NOTE: THIS IS NOT A TRADE TONY RANT ONE WAY OR THE OTHER, THE MAN IS STAYING IN SAN ANTONIO FOR NOW, DEAL WITH IT.
Why do I smell a trade you ask? Wouldn't we have heard something by now? Probably not. Rarely in my memory as a Spurs fan can I recall any hint of a Spur trade being leaked before maybe the morning of that trade going down at the earliest. The one exception that immediatly comes to mind is when Brent Barry phisically went up to Pop in the middle of a broadcast of a game against Seattle and whispered "Get me out of here!" into his ear on live TV. Even then we didn't know exaclty what Brent had said until after the fact. Does anyone remember even a hint of the RJ trade before it went down? I remember hijacking my buddy's ESPN insider account last off season and checking the rumors page every morning to see some clue about what we were doing and still news of a move by the Spurs tends to break in the local media first. Ticket 760 breaking the Tiago signing before the national media had a file photo on him should prove the point.
Moreover though, we can all feel that something is up. Why isn't RJ back yet? If another team was gonna sign him, it would seem that it would have probably happened by now. Every day the teams with cap space spend a little bit more and the already remote possibility of him signing with someone else seems less and less realistic. Perhaps the Spurs were using Gee as a bargaining chip and were waiting for him to show off in summer league to make RJ sweat and lower his asking price, but that seems like a really elaborate and cheap ploy by our front office who is already lucky to be saving as much as they are on RJ. Thanks to him opting out of his contract, the Spurs could re-sign him and still save somewhere in the neighborhood of $15mil+ (assuming for example he re-signs at 5mil/year the spurs save 10 mil plus whatever the luxury tax bill would have been on his salary, plus the fact that not being a luxury tax paying team makes you about 3 mil in taxes redistributed from the tax paying teams). So it seems really petty for the Spurs to play hardball like this over mayber 1-2mil a year after RJ graciously saved them all this other money. To me, the only reason to wait so long before re-signing him, is that the Spurs are rightly unsure about the SF position and are looking for a better option whether its finding RJ a better back up or trading him for a better starter. If the Spurs wanted to trade RJ (or were at least willing to do it for the right price) they would wait to make his salary match up with the deal for whatever player we trade for, basically allowing his recieving team the courtasy of writing RJ's new contract.
So why a trade is our logical next step? In the game of RISK as in the NBA, when you have 3 cards of the same kind, you trade them in for reinforcements. The spurs have the luxury of having 3 or more desireable players and young talents at the guard positions. We're mostly solid, or maybe a vet signing away from having our PF and C positions ready for the season, but we have a gaping hole at the SF position. We in fact have too many gaurds to sign all of them and the ones we do sign will already be battling for min. The smart thing for the Spurs to do is to decide which of the guys from the summer league team they like and want to keep, and take the rest and package them with possibly a future pick or our rights to some overseas player for reinforcements now.
What kinda trades am I talking about? It doesn't have to be a block buster. My gut tells me that the safest move would be to keep RJ (on the theory that he'll have the 2nd year surge) and package a few of our young guys for a different young guy but at the right position. For example, say the Spurs decided they wanted Gary Neal from our summer league team for his knock-down shooting, the problem is behind TP, Hill, Temple, Manu, Anderson, and Hairston, where do we put him (he doesn't sound interested in the D-league). The Spurs could package Hairston and say Curtis Jerrells for say Chase Budinger. A small move like that would give Houston a back up SG and PG (they only have one of each right now), and give us one of their 4 SFs. I'd rather have Chase to put in for defense in certain situations than Gee, Budinger has more size and gives us more flexability.
Other young guys that we could package whose rights I believe we hold are SpurNando's rights (where will we ever find a small PG without him), Gist or even Gee or Temple if the price was really right. I know it sucks, I like these guys a lot too, and I'm not saying to get rid of all of them, but we can't keep all of them either. Of the guys who were supposed to star on our summer league team: Temple, Hairston, Gist, Gee, Jerrells, Squeeky, and Neal - we realistically only have room for 2, 3 tops, and while we don't hold Neal's rights, we're probably in the best position to sign him, and I think we might need his shooting.
If we realy wanted to swing for the fences we could package RJ up in a sign and trade for Teyshaun Prince for example, but I find that much less likely.