There’s no doubt the San Antonio Spurs lost some people some money in the NBA betting world this year. They were supposed to be big players this year, having added major beef up front via LaMarcus Aldridge and David West, and with defensive ace Kawhi Leonard leading the way, they looked every bit the part of an NBA Finals contender by winning nearly 70 games and losing just one game at home all year.
In their second round defeat by the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder, they lost two games on their home floor and didn’t look much like a title contender at all. The age of the “Big 3”, consisting of Tim Dunan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili seemed to catch up with them, while the Spurs seemed to ditch their team ball for iso work for Leonard and Ridge far too often. Their aging trio is what was really disappointing, however, as Duncan was a ghost for much of the playoffs and Parker was so bad that he didn’t even sniff the fourth quarter in their game six loss on Thursday night.
So, what now?
The Spurs understandably have a lot of questions to ask themselves, the first being whether or not they believe they’re close to winning a title. It’s tough to say, too, as they lost to the Clippers in the first round last year and even with reinforcements, we’re able to even get back to the Western Conference Finals – let alone the NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors are without a doubt the cream of the crop in the conference (and likely the league) and now OKC may have moved back past the Spurs.
Is that the reality now, or will the Spurs come back more determined than ever? Or will they even re-tool again in an effort to gain just a little more of an edge?
First thing’s first, the Spurs are going to need what veterans they’re working with. Duncan and Ginobili will be 39 and 40 come this summer and both have been considering retirement in recent years. Duncan looked fine for most of the regular season, but before showing up with 19 points on Thursday, looked completely done through two rounds of post-season play. He’d also been losing his role on the floor and the same can be said for Ginobili. It’s possible both see the title window closing with or without them, or they just realize their roles aren’t big enough and feel it’s time to call it quits.
Then again, they both probably have a good amount of fight in them, so coming back for one more hard go at it makes sense. They already had shrinking roles, but their playoff experience counts for something.
Free Agency Part II
Getting Aldridge last summer was huge and he ended up being a good fit, but the Spurs clearly lack stable youth and athleticism. They need to find a way to get a little bit better so they can compete with some of the younger, faster teams. Rumors suggest the work could start at the point guard position, as Tony Parker is 34 and regressing, while backup point guard Andre Miller is 40 and could retire.
Mike Conley is the hot name to watch, per reports, as he’s scheduled to hit free agency and is considering leaving Memphis now that the team let go of head coach Dave Joerger.
— News 4 San Antonio (@News4SA) May 13, 2016
Conley can defend at a high level, create offense and even hit the outside shot, so at this point he’d serve as an upgrade over Parker and would also help the Spurs on both ends of the court. His interest in seeking a title combines with their interest in improving a key position, so it could be a perfect fit.
There is also the issue of David West, who took a payment cut of about $11 million for a shot to chase a title with the Spurs. That didn’t go as planned, so he could decide to opt out of his player option in order to seek a little more cash with a bigger role elsewhere. If the Spurs bring in Conley and keep their aging veterans, however, he also may see a chance for a better run next year.
San Antonio could also decide to seek a little more consistency on the wing, where Danny Green provides elite defense and some outside shooting, but is probably one of the more streaky shooters in the entire league. Even if they brought in someone just to put behind him or replace Ginobili, it’s something to consider. San Antonio could also always give backup shooting guard Kevin Martin a bigger role.
At this point, the Spurs are officially not guaranteed of anything. We can’t say for sure that Duncan and Ginobili will be back, we can’t say for sure if Parker will hold onto his starting job, West could opt out and even Andre Miller could retire. Their roster could look completely different come next season. All we do know is their moves probably start and end with what their two aging vets want to do. If they decide to stick around, it could be as simple as convincing West to stay and getting Conley in to run the offense. Even then, the Spurs aren’t locks to win it all. But they’d at least remain in the conversation to give it a solid try.