The NBA trade deadline is just under a week away, and from now until then the blogotwitterrumorsphere is going to be dominated by talk of Player X to Team Y for a package of Player Z, draft picks, and cash. Undoubtedly, some of that talk will be around the Spurs, their skewed front court to back court roster, and the aging of one Timothy Theodore Duncan.The most buzzed about deal seems to involve Emeka Okafor for whatever it takes to make that deal work (Blair and RJ?). Considering he has been sidelined for a good while now with knee pain, I personally feel like that is too much of a gamble – though perhaps the injury report is a rouse to keep him off the court and risking actual injury. Either way, I don’t think subtracting Blair to add Okafor helps the team. If the Hornets would part with their big man for some combination of players not involving Blair (or Tony, Manu, Tim, Kawhi, Green, Tiago, or Neal) I’dbe okay with a deal.
Given the scrutiny any trade involving New Orleans is likely to receive from other owners I just don’t see that happening. What’s more likely is that they (NO) trade parts and pieces to teams under the cap to minimize their payroll and make them more attractive to potential buyers.
As for the Spurs, I personally think that any roster tweaks will be more on the minor side. I could see James Anderson to any one of the eight teams far enough under the cap to absorb his salary for a draft pick or picks (Washington, Denver, and Houston all have a hefty surplus of picks over the next few years). That would help with the tax this year, free up some room on the wings and bench, and grant Mr. Anderson his wish to leave.
I see two other eventualities that might come to pass between now and April 27th: Buy-out Player A and available Free Agent B. I am not going to speculate on potential buy-out candidates as I might just make an ass out of you and me, but I would like to take a look at some intriguing options out there on the market for a team with space both cap and bench.
At power forward, players like Leon Powe, MalikAllen, Joe Smith, and Rasheed Wallace are out there. The center spot offers Kyrylo Fesenko, Hamady Ndiaye, DJ Mbenga, and Marcus Cousin. Will any of these players drastically affect the Spurs' season or their rotation? Probably not. You know what would? An injury to one of the four big men currently on the roster or foul trouble for Tiago or Duncan at a key moment in a key game. Adding a fifth big to the roster would serve as a valuable insurance policy, and given the right match-ups a strategic piece to place on the chess board of the NBA court.
Each of those players listed above could be added with minor impacts on the luxury tax the Spurs look to be paying this year, and with an unguaranteed year or two tacked on to the contractwould give them a chance to make their way back into the NBA long term with a spot in training camp next year.
The major roster tweaks needed to keep the Spurs from fading to the ranks of the mediocre will happen this summer when RJ is amnestied and Duncan re-signs for $10 mil leaving room for their 2012 draft pick and someone like Chris Kaman, Ersan Ilyasova, or Gerald Wallace (remember the market has changed drastically under the new CBA). Still, that’s probably not enough to maintain the brilliance we are used to from the Spurs, but it would be a viable bridge into the re-building mode without blowing the entire roster up.