2012 NBA Off Season Preview: San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio Spurs

2011-2012 Record: 50-16, 1st in Southwest
Stat Leaders: Tony Parker, 18.3 ppg, 7.7 apg. Tim Duncan, 9.0 rpg, 1.5 bpg.

Depth Chart

C - DeJuan Blair (TO)
PF - Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner
SF - Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Jackson
SG - Manu Ginobili
PG - Tony Parker, Patrick Mills (PO), Cory Joseph

Unrestricted Free Agents: FC Tim Duncan, GF James Anderson, GF Derrick Byars, FC Boris Diaw, GF Danny Green, G Gary Neal

Tim Duncan. Not a man who cares about
a 21 million dollar haircut.
The Good: Every year people want to write off the Spurs, and every year they just continue to contend. San Antonio had the best record in the NBA and won 10 straight playoff games before the young legs of the Thunder proved to be too much for them. Still, this season was a huge success for the Spurs. Tony Parker might have had his best season as a pro, averaging a career high 7.7 assists to go along with his usual 18 points. He really is one of the most underrated players in the league. He really stepped up in the playoffs, shouldering the scoring load for the Spurs. Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan both had good seasons, even though their minutes were severely limited during the regular season. That strategy paid off, as both players were healthy and able to play big minutes in the playoffs. Gregg Popovich seems to know what he is doing occasionally. Besides the big three, several other players stepped up at various points of the season. Most notably Kawhi Leonard, who showed during the playoffs he should be that fourth guy the Spurs need to rely upon. He could take off in 2012-2013 as the team's starting small forward.

The Bad: The Spurs age showed when the Thunder ran them off the court during the Western Conference Finals. Trading for Leonard was a good start, but this team needs to get younger and more athletic. Patrick Mills was actually the teams fourth leading scorer, showing they really don't have much other then their big three and an emerging Leonard. San Antonio has money to spend and will need to bring in a few players who can contribute, especially since they will most likely limit Duncan and Ginobili's minutes again.

Key Free Agents: It starts and ends with Tim Duncan. The Big Fundamental has a million miles of wear and tear on those old tires, but he isn't ready to croak yet. He is still a very good rebounder and shot blocker, and as he showed during the playoffs, he can still drop 25 points on any given night. Boris Diaw was a nice mid season pick up and could be brought back for depth. Gary Neal is probably more valuable to the Spurs then he would be to another team. Same with Danny Green.

Projected Cap Space: $8,737,028. The Spurs will resign Tim Duncan, but not for anywhere near the 21 million dollars he made last year. That will eat into most of their cap space, but the team should have money to spend on a free agent or two. If the Spurs want to go for it one more time they can resign Duncan for one year, then after this season Manu Ginobili and Stephen Jackson will come off the books. That would be another additional 24 million dollars in salaries.

Amnesty Possibilities: The Spurs don't have anyone who is terribly overpaid. Ginobili and Parker make big time money, but they don't sniff the NBA Finals without either of those players. If they are serious about spending money on free agents this summer they could cut loose Stephen Jackson and the 10 million dollars he is owed next year. He was a good backup for the Spurs but with Kawhi Leonard and Gary Neal ready for big time roles he might not be needed.

Free Agency Possibilities: For the first time in years the Spurs will actually have some money to spend on free agents. They would love to add someone like Roy Hibbert or Brook Lopez to play along side Duncan, but both of those guys are restricted and will probably be resigned. Chris Kaman would be a possibility, as he would like to play for a contender after spending his career languishing on terrible teams. He has a good all around game and would be the best center Duncan ever played next to. Kevin Garnett is another possibility, or perhaps an option to go along with Kaman. He could be had for 5 to 7 million a year and showed during the playoffs that he clearly has a few years left. He could rotate with Duncan with each player playing around 24 minutes per night and both would be fresh for the playoffs.

Draft Possibilities: The Spurs do not draft until the 58th overall selection. Which means they will probably draft a foreigner who will come over in a few years and become an All Star. Then they will sign an undrafted free agent who will end up being better then half of the players taken in the first round. That is the Spurs way.

Contending, Rebuilding or Status Quo?: Funny how ESPN went from calling the Spurs the greatest team in the last 12 years to finished in a matter of four games, but that is ESPN for you. As long as the Spurs have Duncan, Parker and Popovich, they are contenders. The team has money to add to an already deep bench and give the old three enough help to get through the regular season. Once the playoffs roll around they should be one of the top four teams. The past two years the Spurs have shown their age in the playoffs, however, and you have to wonder if the old guys can get this team to the Finals one last time. I wouldn't count against them.

All logos courtesy of http://www.sportslogos.net/

Jonathan Carrano

Phasellus facilisis convallis metus, ut imperdiet augue auctor nec. Duis at velit id augue lobortis porta. Sed varius, enim accumsan aliquam tincidunt, tortor urna vulputate quam, eget finibus urna est in augue.

No comments: