clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Should the Spurs go after Andrei Kirilenko?

New, comments

In this edition of In The Bonus, the PtR staff discusses Andrei Kirilenko's potential fit with the Spurs, Splitter's injury, the Thunder's chances of making the playoffs and our favorite off-season "what ifs?"

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

1 - Andrei Kirilenko is reportedly about to leave the Nets. Should the Spurs be interested?

Michael Erler: At the veteran minimum? Maybe. But he'd be the fourth wing at best on a team that struggles to find enough minutes for everyone, and where does that leave Marco? I'd assume Kirilenko would leapfrog him in the rotation because of defense, but I think the guy is pretty much done and the Spurs have a good thing going with their 15 guys, with good chemistry. I wouldn't want to upset that apple cart unless there's a real upgrade in the offing, and Kirilenko is no longer that. He couldn't get steady minutes in Brooklyn, so what does that tell you?

Taylor Young: I am tempted to say yes, but the guy didn't even contribute for Brooklyn. I think the fabulousness in which the Boris Diaw resurrection occurred has really given the Spurs fans too much optimism with situations like this. But, if he's not going to be a team cancer I have no problem with them cutting Austin Daye and getting the AK47.

Bruno Passos: Last year I'd have said yes. Now, I'm not sure what's left in the tank, especially if he's not cracking the rotation of the lowly Nets. Plus, he's never been the kind of shooter that could easily slide into the Spurs rotation. I don't think it's worth disrupting the team chemistry at this stage.

Jesus Gomez: My first instinct is to say sure, why not? The Spurs have a very cheap roster, so creating a roster spot via trade or waive shouldn't be an issue. And almost strictly as a power forward, he could be a good fit. But if the problem in Brooklyn were minutes, there's no way he would be happy in San Antonio. There's some Diaw after the Bobcats potential but there's also some Stephen Jackson pouting in practice potential. Not sure if he's worth the risk.

J.R. Wilco: Full roster issues aside ... from how he's played lately, I'd prefer not. But I remember being nonplussed about the Boris Diaw rumors in 2012. If there's a similar renaissance for AK47 in the offing, I'd be intrigued to see how he'd fit in San Antonio.

2 - Andrew Wiggins' 29-point game combined with the Cavs' struggles started out a little "what if?" debate about whether they would have been better off without making the trade for Love. Are there other "What if?" moments from last off-season that you think would have completely changed the NBA landscape?

Erler: Love to the Warriors would've been interesting I think and a better fit. He'd have been a much better version of David Lee and the pick-and-pop with Stephen Curry would've been terrifying. Moreover, even with Thompson gone there would still be enough wings on the roster with Iguodala, Green, Barnes and Martin (in our little scenario he doesn't fracture his wrist). The Warriors wouldn't be dependent on Love as a defender because that's what Bogut's there for. With Cleveland he's an awful fit. They have nobody to protect the rim. If they had Wiggins they could at least guard the perimeter well and out-athlete you to death in transition.

Young: It's funny that nobody truly respects Houston as title contenders, even with their great start. Can you imagine how different that would be if they had signed Bosh? I am already slowly unfollowing Rockets trolls on Facebook. If they had gotten Bosh that process would have started in July.

Passos: I have to go with Bosh to the Rockets given how well Houston has started. Their defense has looked good (side note: what's up with that, James Harden?), and Bosh's insertion into the offense would've turned their weakest position into another strength. My preseason prediction of them potentially missing the playoffs is looking pretty silly.

Gomez: Embiid staying healthy would have changed a lot of things. If he's healthy, he's the number one pick. I'm not sure the Cavs trade him, so no Love deal or a deal centered on Waiters, Bennett and multiple picks with Embiid remaining in the roster protecting the paint. Either way, Embiid next to LeBron in the Cavs would have been fun to watch.

Wilco: Let's not ignore the biggest "What If" of them all: What if James had stayed in Miami? Remember that his defection to the Cavs was what started all of the dominoes falling across the league. The NBA would be an utterly different place if he'd decided to have another go in Miami.

3- Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are back to training and it looks like RW could be back this week. Can the 3-12 Thunder make the playoffs, considering the West has ten teams over .500 already, or is it too late?

Erler: I've had this discussion with many folks in the media trailer and I'm in the minority when I state that I still am not worried about them. I'm not going to even pay attention to their record until the 25-game mark. If they can go 5-5 over the next 10 (the schedule isn't very hard) that gets them to 8-17 and they'll be okay, needing to go 40-17 the rest of the way to get to 48-34. 5-20 would make it hard. Still, I don't put it past them to have a 45-10 stretch over the final two-thirds of the season. It's not like they're getting blown out now, they're barely losing, without Durant, Westbrook or even Perry Jones, so it won't take too much to get over the hump in most games.

Young: They are competitive right now, so I think they could easily get on a furious roll. It isn't the record that makes me doubt them, it's that they would have to go essentially injury free to Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka for the rest of the year. The amount of games they will have to make up for will mean that those three will have to play a lot of hard fought minutes, with no room to rest. I just can't see them staying healthy. Also, West teams will be so determined for them to miss the playoffs, they will get everyone's best shot.

Passos: It's definitely not too late, but you have to hope they're not going to be rushed back and risk further injury. They had a 33-7 stretch last year and are fully capable of getting hot. If the re-integration is seamless and the role players continue the contribute, I won't count them out.

Gomez: As of now, the eight seeded Kings are projected to win 50 and the Clippers and Pelicans lurk closely. Last season it took the eight seed 49 games to get to the playoffs. OKC would need to go 46-21 the rest of the way to give themselves a chance. It's tough to see them do it with Durant a couple of weeks away. If they can, it will be hilarious to watch how the teams on top, Spurs included, do anything they can to avoid them in the first round.

Wilco: I'm not counting them out until they're mathematically eliminated. It would just be too crushing for me to expect them to be in the lottery, only to have them surge into the playoffs and meet the Spurs in the first or second rounds. No. I will not allow the Thunder to sneak up on me. They're dangerous until they're dead.

4 - Pop keeps saying he has no idea what's wrong with Splitter. On a scale of one to ten, how worried are you about his injury and why?

Erler: I was at 8, based on some rumors I'd heard, but the Spurs continue to vehemently deny that there's any nerve issue so I have to take them at their word. I'm going to say 3. My hunch is if this was the playoffs, he'd be playing and they're taking it very careful with him because A) there's no reason not to and B) they're playing very well without him. Again, I know I'm in the minority, but I think Splitter is a guy who's critical against certain opponents and a luxury against most. Duncan, Leonard and Green are three elite defenders and even Ginobili, Parker and Diaw are good team defenders who know what they're doing. The Spurs continue to have the best balance of offense/defense of any team in the West.

Young: Four. I'll worry if they get into the difficult stretch in their schedule in late December and there's no Tiago.

Passos: Six? The path to the Finals will call for Splitter's particular set of skills, and it's not the small-ball Heat that are waiting once you get there. The fact that he's baffling Pop and, seemingly, modern science puts his long-term availability and effectiveness into question.

Gomez: I'm at a seven. I'm not freaking out because there's not nerve issues but on the other hand, what exactly is going on with his calf? He was cleared to play, was on the court for 11 minutes and it tightened up again. Until I see him out there for a few games and hear nothing about the calf, I'll be worried.

Wilco: I'd have to give it a solid 5, but it's only that low because of how notoriously careful the Spurs are about not rushing their players' recuperation. Also, they want Splitter back for good. My guess is that they really thought he was 100%, played him for those 11 minutes, saw that he wasn't fully back, and decided to be absolutely, positively certain that there was no change of a re-aggravation. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised to see him return with Patty.

5 - The Spurs will have three days off. What they should they be focusing on in practice?

Erler: Figuring out how to reincorporate Belinelli into the rotation without hurting the defense, getting Bonner up to speed and locking Austin Daye in a broom closet.

Young: Once this team gets into a rhythm with each other and regain its shooting stroke, they are going to be so so good. So champs, focus on scrimmaging and shooting this week at your basketball practice. Revolutionary ideas, I know.

Passos: Shooting. Put some money or sandwiches on the line and plan a full session around the Bonner Challenge.

Gomez: Besides trying not to get hit by Baynes? Probably trying to find ways to get the ball to Kawhi in the post more smoothly. It often takes them a lot time, leaving Leonard with not enough time to reset if he can't get position.

Wilco: Same stuff as always. It's about the process, not the results, right?