Now that the season has ended, it's time to not only continue the autopsy but to look ahead to next year. Tim C and SpursfanSteve started a roundtable discussion and graciously allowed others to join in. Add your thoughts to Part 1 of the discussion after the jump.
1. Is the Spurs' title window closed?
Big50: No. They proved that this year. That doesn't mean they shouldn't try to improve the team, but as long as guys like Parker and Ginobili can play at a high level and they've got a solid cast around them, they'll have a shot. WCF is not the same as missing the playoffs people, come on!
SfS: Whereas last year we were a couple pieces away, this year, I think, we were only one away. I don't think the window is closed, and if our recent additions (Green, Leonard, and Diaw) stick around and continue to gel with the core, then the Spurs have pushed the window open farther.
Trey Felder: Absolutely not. Given the near-legendary performance the team exhibited this season, and doing so with minimal time to truly gel, to me solidifies the fact that the Spurs are still among the elite teams in the league, and as such, still have a legitimate shot at a title. If Kawhi and Danny continue to make huge strides in their game, San Antonio may have propped open their window much farther than many realize.
Tim C: No. At least, not in theory. But it's going to take more than a tweak here and there. The Spurs need big improvements from Kawhi and Tiago. With his work ethic and BBIQ, I think Kawhi could even end up winning Most Improved Player. I'd like to see Tiago work on adding a post move or two, so that he's not so one-dimensional, but he'll be playing in the Olympics. I also still think the Spurs need another defensive-minded big man, but those aren't exactly gowning on trees. And that's only if we don't see a significant dip in the abilities of any of the Big 3.
silverandblack_davis: A very cautious "no". It's hard to tell how much of a drop-off the Big Three will experience in terms of their bodies aging year after year. In a way, this shortened season was nearly the perfect storm for our group, but for Tim Duncan, especially. He looked very spry and energetic, but after another playoff exit, we are further affirmed that he seriously needs some help defensively in the frontcourt. The core can only get better, and usually smart organizations like the Spurs don't get rattled into blowing up the team. Expect RC, Pop and co. to give their young players time to develop and improve chemistry. And oh, a full training camp and summer leagues can be very helpful.
CapHill: Although the window has closed slightly, it is still open. Improvement by the role players could throw it wide open again or a rash of injuries could slam it shut. What we discovered during the WCF though is that while the Big Three are still awfully damn good, they can no longer carry the team alone.
2. Charles Barkley thinks Tim Duncan should retire - was Duncan more of an asset or a liability, has he declined too much to stick around, and do you think he's coming back next year?
JRW: I think Barkley makes some pretty smart points when he's not making snap judgments, but in this case I'm going to give my answer as much time and effort as Chuck gave before blurting out the first thing that entered his head when it was his turn to vomit sounds into his microphone.
So, I think that Tim argh palm beshaz und alfalfa, and that his braap maol grits on dun trunk mop. While it's true that larth befaln qurek delschon bort, I don't expect that to shuzzle column llab cetla befeft mohannin. Shritz?
Big50: Barkley is a moron. 24 points, 14 rebounds and 2 blocks in Game 6. Tim Duncan is still an elite defender and a top flight big man. There's a reason that he was the only big on the floor late in games in the WCF for this team. I think he'll be back. He's still has game and can contribute to really good team.
SfS: I understand what he's saying, and I think what he says has some (little) merit. I don't want to see Duncan retire, but I also don't want to see him play too long and make us want to see him retire. He's still elite. I don't know how much he'll decline next season (his per 36 numbers are still basically the same). As long as he signs for less than 8-10 million per year (my guess is that's a realistic figure), I'm willing to trust his judgement.
Trey Felder: To me, it seemed Barkley was trying a little too hard to fit Duncan's legacy into the "changing of the guard" narrative that TNT was unabashedly pushing throughout the series. I see no good reason why Timmy cannot still contribute at a high level for another couple of years.
Tim C: I most certainly do not agree with Charles. Timmy is still one of the best big men around, even if he's only a shadow of what he once was. Strangely, the time off during the lockout may have bought him some more time, as the extended rest seemed to rejuvenate him. That said, he can stick around as long as he wants without needing any excuse.
CapHill: I love Charles Barkley - he's highly entertaining. It's like watching a car wreck in progress. But Timmeh's not dead yet.
3. Which Spur(s) is (are) most likely to not be around next year?
SfS: Most likely to be gone: James Anderson and Patty Mills (unfortunately). Less likely but certainly possible: Green, Diaw, Neal, Blair, Bonner, Splitter.
Big50: Anderson and Mills. I hope we see Green and Diaw stay, but I think they may get more money than the Spurs can pay.
Trey Felder: Anderson and BAKER'S MAN (a.k.a. Patty Mills) top my list of those 2012 Spurs who won't be donning the Silver and Black in the fall. I'll miss that Aussie, though--I think he deserved a better shot at backing up Tony Parker at the point.
Before the Thunder series, I probably would have added Green to that list. But his well-documented struggles offensively during the series probably drove down his appeal to other teams this offseason. Quite frankly, he proved that he's not quite ready for the sport's biggest stage, though I'm confident he will attain those heights eventually if he continues working.
Tim C: Anyone not named Tim Duncan could feasibly not return (on the off chance he retires, that just becomes "anyone"). But I suppose I'll rank everyone else in order of likelihood they won't be with the Spurs next season in my mind: Anderson, Byars(lol), Mills, Green, Diaw, Joseph, Neal, Blair, Bonner, Jackson, Splitter, Parker, Leonard, Ginobili.
CapHill: &erson is gone. Sigh. So much of the roster next year will be predicated on whether PATFO can sign both Green and Diaw. If not, I could see a draft day trade with the Spurs using Blair and/or Neal as bait. But after this year's run, I doubt RC is looking for wholesale changes.
4. On a scale of 1-10, how disappointed should we be in Tiago Splitter?
Big50: A 5 maybe? Initially, I was hoping he'd be more than he has been, but after seeing him last year, I think he's a decent player and not much more than that. A solid rotation big man, but not a game changer at this level. The Spurs could still use another big that they can trust to help spell Duncan.
SfS: Depending on my mood, I'm somewhere between a 7 and an 8. This is what we waited all those years for? I knew he wasn't going to be Tim Duncan. But I was expecting a less good Tim Duncan. He's clearly not good enough to build a team (or even a unit) around, which makes him a role player. What role does he play or excel at? He's not an "energy guy" nor a "floor-spacer." He's got a decent post game, provided he can back his way down to within 5 feet of the basket. He can set good screens and as long as nobody contests the catch, can catch and finish on the roll. He's not an excellent shot blocker/rim protector, but he's good enough to be a backup. In his second year, the lasting image of Tiago will be a blown rotation and Pop screaming at him to sit down. That's probably not fair, because he did improve this season (or at least got more minutes) but as far as moving into the future, my expectations for him have been lowered so drastically that they'd be nearly impossible to meet. I think we're looking at a solid career-backup or marginal starter. I don't think there's any scenario where he starts on a championship team. But, hey. At least he's pretty.
Tim C: I'm at a 3. Then again, my expectations of his offensive game weren't as high as a lot of folks. He's the same player he was in Europe, but as I mentioned in the first question, I'd like to see him develop another post move or two so that the defense has to at least think about guarding him on the low block.
silverandblack_davis: I'll say 6, but half of those are Pop's fault. He played Tiago way too few minutes even if Splitter's good play in stretches obviously merited more, and to ask him to suddenly make a consistent impact in the playoffs is not fair to the guy. Tiago also did not go deep into the playoffs with the same momentum as the rest of the team, as he got injured in the first round, lost rhythm, botched free throws and eventually lost confidence.
CapHill: 5 - he needs to be more aggressive in the paint and develop another post move, but I've overall been pleased with his defense. Tiago is a rhythm player and Pop has messed with his role way too much this year. Splitter needs to be the first big off the bench next year, consistently playing > 25 mpg.