With 10 free agents, including Duncan and Ginobili, it's a virtual certainty the Spurs will lose important pieces this summer.
I read that in yesterday's piece by Dan McCarney on the uncertainty, and opportunity, of the upcoming summer for the Spurs. I hadn't really allowed myself to start thinking about the changes that are coming this offseason, but the time is here now, earlier than any of us would have liked.
For me, then, the first thing I want to get down is just how special this latest version of the Spurs has been. I'm talking about the past three or four seasons. This has been an incredible team to root for. Back to back trips to the finals. A championship. Amazing winning streaks. The Big Three surpassing so many other legendary basketball greats. The emergence of Kawhi Leonard. The storybook answer to a devastating defeat. All in all, it's been awesome. This little era is likely coming to some kind of close very soon. How will the team transform? What other players will don the silver and black? Have we seen the last of some of our beloved Spurs? Will Kawhi take further steps and develop into a consistent NBA great?
Lots of questions, and the answers will start coming soon.
As far as the 2014-15 season goes, it was a pretty exhilarating, if bumpy, ride. The Spurs never quite hit transcendent mode, never built up any kind of consistency. They had moments of greatness, and a lot of close-but-not-quite. The Clippers series was a microcosm of this season.
Maybe they had that post-championship lull. These guys are human. Especially after the incredible focus of the previous season, maybe they just weren't quite up for the intensity of a title defense.
Maybe the Spurs spent so much energy down the stretch of the regular season trying to reach that 2 seed that they had too little left once the playoffs began. Missed jumpers and free throws may just be a symptom of overall fatigue.
Maybe age is finally catching up with some of the players. (Apparently not Duncan, though.) This idea has been proven wrong so many times, but eventually it will be true. Right?
Maybe Kawhi Leonard is not quite yet ready to be handed the keys. I think he will be soon, but the twenty-three year old still has some growing to do.
Maybe there were simply too many injuries to too many players for the team to achieve the level of play they were capable of.
I'm sure all of these maybes, and others I haven't thought of, will be explored by people who know a lot more about basketball than I do. I think each of these angles has merit, but I wouldn't look for a smoking gun here. We want to make this into a simple story, but it's complicated. None of these things in and of themselves prevented the Spurs from living up to their potential this season. But you add up enough little things together and they make a big difference. In a championship season, lots and lots of things have to go right, even for a great team. It just seemed that this year the wind was blowing the wrong way. I'm not one of those who believes in fate or the basketball gods. The season was frustrating and disappointing in the end. I don't know exactly why, and probably never will.
Popovich said this team knows how to win, and this team knows how to lose. Even in loss, the Spurs make me incredibly proud. Like we say, they are so easy to root for. They are also worth suffering with, and that's what I'm doing right now. Thanks to all my fellow Pounders for again adding a layer of support, knowledge and fun to my Spurs fandom this season.
The future is coming, and it should be interesting.