It's not easy getting over the end to the Spurs season, especially after an injury plagued, first round playoff exit to our rival Dallas Mavericks. But, ever the optimist and "glass half full" guy, I'm going to look forward to our off-season and next year's championship run. Let's begin with this summer's draft.
JUNE'S NBA DRAFT
Despite what the experts say about the quality of this year's draft class, I'm sure everyone would agree that the Spurs could be extremely productive with a 1st round pick, whether by including it in a trade to upgrade the current roster, or by finding another late round gem, a la George Hill. Unfortunately, we don't have our 1st round pick. At the time, just after last season's trading deadline, I was skeptical of the Spurs willingness to include this year's #1 pick in the deal for Kurt Thomas. Obviously, Seattle/OKC wouldn't have done the deal without it, but I imagined a situation just like this where it would come back to bite us in the ass.
But, that's ancient history. So, due to some previous trades, we do have three 2nd round picks in this June's NBA Draft. Last year's Hairston swap with Phoenix also netted us Golden State's 2nd rounder, #37 overall. Along with Bonner and Eric Williams, we got New Orleans' 2nd rounder, #51 overall, from Toronto for Rasho Nesterovic in 2006. And because of that despicable Scola deal with Houston, we received this year's Rockets 2nd rounder, #53 overall. We would've had a fourth 2nd round pick, #54 overall, but we gave that away to Charlotte for Melvin Ely, another wasted transaction, in my opinion.
What are we going to do with those three 2nd rounders? At #37, we should be able to add a quality player who possibly slips down some teams' draft boards. I've heard rumblings that San Antonio has once again targeted another foreign player, and based on their success in the past, I trust their judgment completely. From what I've read, Israel's Omri Casspi is not even 21 yet, almost 6'9", about 225 lbs., and has played in the Euroleague for several years. He's probably not ready to contribute in the NBA just yet, but we could keep him stashed in Europe for another season or two until we're ready to bring him over. He profiles as a small forward, with potential to be a great defender; he declared for the '08 Draft, but withdrew after not getting a first round guarantee from any NBA teams. I doubt he'll get that guarantee this summer, but with another season under his belt, he might decide to remain eligible for this year's draft and hope for the best.
This is what our roster situation looks like as of today. Out of the 15 guys we had in '08-‘09, Timmy, Tony, George, and Ian are signed "long term", four are unrestricted free agents, and seven have only one year left on their current contracts, meaning we could have as much as $32 million coming off the books in 2010.
Tim Duncan, PF Age: 33 Contract status: Three years, $62.1 million
Tony Parker, PG Age: 26 Contract status: Two years, $26.1 million
Manu Ginobili, SG Age: 31 Contract status: One year, $10.7 million
Bruce Bowen, SF Age: 37 Contract status: One year, $4 million
Fabricio Oberto, C Age: 34 Contract status: One year, $3.9 million
Kurt Thomas, F/C Age: 36 Contract status: One year, $3.8 million
Roger Mason Jr., SG Age: 28 Contract status: One year, $3.8 million
Matt Bonner, F/C Age: 29 Contract status: One year, $3.2 million
Michael Finley, G/F Age: 36 Contract status: One year, $2.5 million
George Hill, G Age: 22 Contract status: Three years, $3.2 million
Ian Mahinmi, C Age: 22 Contract status: Two years, $2.6 million
Drew Gooden, F/C Age: 27 Contract status: Free agent
Ime Udoka, G/F Age: 31 Contract status: Free agent
Jacque Vaughn, PG Age: 34 Contract status: Free agent
Marcus Williams, SF Age: 23 Contract status: Free agent
As Mike Taylor has repeatedly said on Ticket760's STSA radio show, Manu owes San Antonio an entire season of healthy, All-Star level basketball; that means all 82 games and the playoffs. Ginobili is also in his contract year, and with impending free agency as a motivator, I think he'll be out to prove he's still an elite player. Plus, he doesn't have any Argentinean international competitions to participate in, so he better fucking take the summer off, lock himself in a cryostasis tank, and not release himself into the wild until training camp starts.
OPTIONS and BUYOUTS
Let's assume that Finley exercises that option of his. Who are we kidding, the economy is in shambles, the salary cap is gonna decrease, and he's 36 years old; I don't think he's gonna pass up that much guaranteed cash. We'll also go on the assumption that R.C. Buford isn't going to "buy out" Bowen or Oberto. Yes, it would free up a roster spot, but that's just throwing money away; I think we can make use of these players and their contracts. I still feel as though Bowen serves a purpose on our roster, despite his AARP membership and ability to withdraw Social Security. I mean, who else is going to play the starring role in all those H-E-B commercials? Seriously though, he still plays superb defense, provides some much needed toughness, and he's earned the right to retire a Spur, in my opinion.
OUR OWN FREE AGENTS
I fell in love with Gooden, oh about his third game on the court in a San Antonio uniform. The guy is only 27; he is the most athletic big man we've had in a while, and at 6'10", he's got the build to bang with the big boys under the basket. I didn't see him miss too many assignments on defense, and the junk he's got in his low-post game far outweighs any shortcomings he has on the other end of the floor. I believe he is a must to re-sign.
I'd love to have Ime back, mostly because he reminds me so much of a younger Bowen. He's no spring chicken himself, I know, but he still has some prime years left. If Udoka would take a similar deal to the one he signed in '07, with a decent raise, I'd do it. In addition, I believe San Antonio shouldn't even hesitate to bring James Gist over. Don't think about it, just do it. Give the Gist a contract, and automatically get younger, more athletic, and more exciting. Do it right fucking now!
As for the JV, you guys have done enough ragging on him already this season, so I won't belabor the point. I hope he's played his last game in a Spurs uni, nuff said.
Williams looks like he has potential, shit, that's why we drafted him in the early 2nd round. But Popovich has an aversion to giving young guys like him a shot, so he might be back with the Toros again. But, I wouldn't be surprised if we have one of the DLeaguers next season, Williams, Malik Hairston, or Desmond Farmer, on a non-guaranteed, minimum salary deal.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
San Antonio will only have the Mid-Level Exception to work with this off-season, and with 11 players already under contract, I don't expect much to happen in this category. You can forget about guys like Ben Gordon and Trevor Ariza, it ain't gonna happen. Even if we are lucky to re-sign Gooden and/or Udoka, that would take up most of our MLE right there.
The one fascinating name that's been linked to the Spurs is Rasheed Wallace. Intriguing, at least to think about. He's on the downside of his career, has already made his big bucks, and most likely just wants another chance at a championship, so he might take a smaller deal to play for a contender. But in our position, we won't have the luxury of getting both Gooden AND Sheed, it's going to be one or the other. Yes, Wallace is 6'11", an above average defender, still pretty athletic, and for a big man can step back and shoot the 3, but if I had to choose between the two, I'll take Drew in a heartbeat.
Recently, Antonio McDyess' name came up as a possible acquisition. But I'm even less excited about him than Sheed.
During this year's trading deadline, the rumor was the Spurs were ever so close to acquiring the Clippers' Marcus Camby. The price would've been steep: our stud rookie George Hill, Bowen, Oberto, and probably some cash. However, the thought of teaming a legitimate shot blocking, rebounding, big man next to Duncan is too good not to dream about. So, I suggest revisiting this deal with LA. I propose sending Oberto, Thomas, and two of our 2nd rounders (#51 and #53) to the Clippers for Camby. Why would LA do a deal like this, you ask?
The Clippers did a 180 last year after having such high expectations going into last off-season. They got shafted by Elton Brand and got stuck with Baron Davis and his albatross of a contract. They're back in rebuilding mode, and were not so subtle about their desire to dump both Davis and Chris Kaman this past February. And as we all know, the entire league is gearing up for the 2010 free agent bonanza, and expiring contracts are gonna be treated like gold. According to HoopsHype.com, Camby is under contract for TWO more seasons at $8 million next year and $7.65 million in '10. So we could offer them an opportunity to get another $8 million under the cap, and they can bring in some more young talent with the two draft picks. Maybe a little farfetched, but definitely possible.
Tyson Chandler's name has also come up, but despite New Orleans' attempts to trade him at the deadline, I think he's even more of a reach than Camby. Chandler may be younger, but they're both injury prone, and given his contract, Chandler seems less likely to wind up in Silver and Black.
MY DREAM ROSTER FOR '09-'10
STARTERS: BENCH: RESERVES:
PG Tony Parker PG George Hill G/F Ime Udoka
SG Roger Mason Jr. SG Manu Ginobili F/C Ian Mahinmi
SF Michael Finley SF Bruce Bowen F James Gist
PF Tim Duncan PF Matt Bonner
C Marcus Camby C Drew Gooden
So, there it is. Any thoughts? Feel free to question, comment, ridicule, blast, or add to my post. Be honest, I can take it.