I think the Spurs still have a number of assets left, beyond looking to the free agency for a big. Okay, so they don't really have a whole lot to offer to teams except maybe some expiring contracts and the stuff, but nonetheless, it's better than nothing. I believe that for whatever the Spurs do end up giving up, it's easier to find a wing in free agency than it is to find a big, especially given the list of bigs that I've seen in free agency. More elaboration after the jump.
Okay, so what do the Spurs have left to trade? Well, since Michael Finley has opted in, we have Finley's $2.5 million contract, Matt Bonner at about $2.98 million, and Roger Mason Jr at $3.5 million. Now, I believe half of the Spurs fanbase is probably getting ready to stone me or something for wanting to trade Mason, who was so clutch last season, but in all honesty, I believe that the 11.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, with 2 threes on 42.5% shooting and 42.1% from beyond the arc, for the most part can be replicated effectively enough via the free agency and/or even D-League more easily than the greater need of a effective big be addressed via the current free agency.
First, let's look at the likely frontcourt rotation on the Spurs as is:
PF - Matt Bonner, Dejuan Blair, (maybe James Gist?)
C - Tim Duncan, Ian Mahinmi
Now when we consider that this year's free agency is lush with undersized banging power forwards, we can begin by eliminating a number of names because they just simply don't add what the Spurs need next to Duncan. If we look at the years of past success with the Spurs we see that paired with Duncan have been a perimeter oriented David Robinson, Rasho Nesterovic, and Fabricio Oberto. What they all have in common is that they can hit the mid-range with regularity and therefore spread the floor for Duncan to operate in the low block. I still hold that Spurs success will still have Duncan operating on the low block, not as the perimeter oriented big, I don't think that relegating Duncan to a David West-type mid-range shooting big will be effective. Furthermore, what all three of the previously mentioned centers had in common were that they were effective in defending opposing centers in the pivot as well. Now let's look at the free agents available:
Let me first start by eliminating David Lee and Paul Millsap as they will easily run for much more than the Spurs can afford, and even should the Spurs be able to throw something at them, it wouldn't be for any amount that New York or Utah cannot easily offer. Let's throw Lamar Odom into this category.
Also, I'd like to eliminate Leon Powe and Brandon Bass, as they fit the undersized power forward mold, which is suited as a backup to Duncan, however, I'd sooner take my chances with Blair and Gist than add a redundant player.
I'm going to eliminate Marcin Gortat, Chris Andersen, Chris Wilcox, and Zaza Pachulia on the basis of their skill, or lack thereof. Of the three, I would only take Gortat, but he hasn't really shown a penchant for a mid-range game. Therefore, I wouldn't really be keen on taking him, since he would push Duncan out of the paint on the offense. He also runs the possibility of being too expensive for the Spurs.
Continuing on, I want to eliminate from consideration Drew Gooden and Charlie Villanueva. While they do add the skills needed, are enormous liabilities on defense, not something the Spurs want. Obviously Gooden last season produced, but didn't really fit well with the team, Villanueva I see as a similar type of player.
Who does that leave? Well the obivous answer is Rasheed Wallace, but also Antonio McDyess and Rasho Nesterovic, maybe Joe Smith, possibly Anderson Varejao (who I think will end up being way more expensive than he's worth). As I said, there really isn't a whole lot to be had in terms of bigs in the free agency.
With that, I would personally think to move Mason, Bonner, and/or Finley, a combined salary of about $9 million, somewhere for some big. Naturally, Mason would probably be the biggest selling point, and after that the fact that all three are expiring contracts. The question is what teams are looking to move bigs, either for a need or to cut costs, and which ones fit within the system. Therefore, it's a question of what's realistic.
I think it's unrealistic that the Spurs somehow land Mehmet Okur should he opt out because he'll be commanding much more than the MLE, additionally, should he stay, I don't think are that desperate to cut costs (and possibly retain Millsap) to run a 3-for-1 (Mason, Bonner, and Finley for Okur), if it does happen, then RC Buford is the most amazing GM ever.
Another possibility, considering their glut of bigs and the promise to be had in DeAndre Jordan, is to run a 3-for-1 for Marcus Camby. While he's not a stalwart in post defense, he does add a shot blocking presence, and has a decent mid-range jumper, and is serviceable enough for me to consider having met our needs. He's not a 3 point threat like Wallace, but hey, I'm not going to get picky, neither was Rasho or Fab.
I'm not sure where the Wizards are moving as they appear to be cost cutting but also trying to contend at the same time, but if JeVale McGee is really the future, perhaps Andray Blatche for 2 of the 3. However, given that they just moved Etan Thomas and Darius Songaila that might not be as big a possibility as I thought.
Finally, one last player I've thought long and hard about, is Jeff Foster. Roy Hibbert is obviously the Pacers' center of the future, so the question is, are the Pacers trying to be players in 2010? Are they trying to cut costs? More than any need for players like Mason, Finley, or Bonner.
Afterwards, there are a number of off guards that can step into the starting role to be had at the MLE or less after trading for a big. Immediately, Marquis Daniels and Josh Childress come to mind. Furthermore perusal of the free agent list brings up names like: Flip Murray, Gerald Green, Dahntay Jones, Von Wafer, Fred Jones, Damien Wilkins if he opts out (though I don't know why he would), and Anthony Parker.
Granted there might not be many takers for a trio of expiring contracts featuring the shooting talents of Roger Mason Jr, but hey, I think it's easier to land the kind of talent the Spurs are looking for, especially since there isn't a whole lot of it in the free agency. Involve a third team if necessary, but I think that there are significantly more possibilities this way, it's always easier to find a wing player than a big, so why limit the list of bigs to the free agency?