To the Spurs, team chemistry is everything. It is one of the foundations of everything that the Spurs have achieved has been built upon. We have always looked at players through the lens of, "how will it affect team chemistry?". Often the Spurs have opted for the low reward player with his head in the right place than the high reward player who could be a little bit of trouble. But one has to think, in the twilight of the Duncan Spurs era, does this thinking need a little more leeway?
One of the players available right now, perhaps cheaply, is JR Smith. He's young, athletic, and a good three point shooter. An expiring contract to boot. A guy with a bit of a rap sheet, yes. Would you take him on?
The knee-jerk reaction to this would be pretty much a straight no. It wouldn't be the greatest thing for team chemistry. But at the same time you have to think, the Spurs only have so many good championship contender years left. Duncan isn't the same Duncan from 5 years ago anymore, he's needing more and more help around him. Once he's gone, the whole dynamic of the team completely changes because Duncan IS the Spurs. At this point, can you be very picky when it comes to getting talent?
There's nothing wrong with the "don't mess with chemistry thinking". Of course not. But it's infinitely easier to do that when you have a 25 year old Duncan, not a 34 year old one. The window is shrinking, as good as the pieces we are adding in are. Because Tim Duncan IS the window. Unless we add a bonafide allstar, the hopes and dreams of the Spurs still rest with him. And he isn't a spring chicken anymore.
Consider that the current champion Lakers only improved themselves by adding in Matt Barnes, Steve Blake, and retaining all their significant pieces. The Heat are looking like a formidable challenge to any team that doesn't have multiple defensive stoppers. Dallas added Tyson Chandler. With so much talent pooling on solid teams, can you still afford to do it with 3 stars and role players? The Celtics and Lakers ushered in the 4 star era to replace the Spurs 3 star era. Teams are now so stacked, can we afford to be say no upgrades in talent because of chemistry issues?