Sunday, February 24, 2008

Smart Trades? Spurs Know What’s Good, What’s Less Good

Unfortunately, basketball is also a business. I will definitely miss Brent Barry - a class act through and through. My wish is that when Brent retires, he retires to do basketball broadcasting. In San Antonio, of course, and with his brother Jon. Cisco Elson you too will be missed. Good luck to you both and God bless you and your families. On the other hand, I am very happy with this trade because I wanted us to go after Kurt Thomas when I heard he was first available. This is a definite positive move for our Spurs to repeat. In fact, this was a great trade by Pop and RC. It will not receive all the media attention that Shaq, Gasol (this is due, LA is unstoppable with him) and Kidd received, but it may be bigger than all of those. Kurt Thomas will come in and guard all the big men, giving Duncan more freedom and energy on the offensive end. I’m not that worried about trading Elson and Barry, Francisco just wasn’t motivated and hungry like year ago and Barry's still not ready to play and probably won't be ready till the end of the season. If you haven't noticed Manu, Finley, Bowen and Udoka have been solid with their three point shooting all season long, especially Manu and Fin. You don't keep a player to infinity just because you like him and he's a fan favorite, you do what's best for the team now, not what's best for one player who makes funny commercials, it's all about championships. Thomas was also traded for his rebounding and ability to bang inside and to shoot his 15-foot jumper and is a tough dude. I don’t think Pop will hurry him into heavy load early, don’t expect him in a starting 5 tomorrow against Atlanta. Plus Popovich (as ever) doesn't want to show his playoff poker hand so early with so many games left. Good news again: Kurt does know a little bit about Spurs offense or defense - PJ Carlesimo is running almost the same type of offensive and defensive schemes out there in Seattle.

Now, new developments... Shaq is back in the West and if you think he’s washed up, don’t buy it. He’s still good for 3-4 shattering dunks per game and his massive size does count, too. It’s like you put a piano in the middle and then play. (Want to make a drive against piano?) Now we have Kurt on him and Tim won’t average as many fouls as in the past, when he plays something like 44 playoffs-minutes. I'm not gonna lie you: upon seeing the Thomas trade, I pumped my fist in the air! I can’t believe that Phoenix is gonna try to win playoffs without both Kurt and Matrix, their (formal) best defenders... what a turn of times, now Kurt is on our side. (As for that Ron Artest trade rumors - just a rumors, Pop would have never tried to add such an unstable player during the season. In the offseason, maybe.)

Again folks, there is no room for sentiment in sports. In the many years I have been a fan there has been so many trades/leaves for some of my favorite players including Antonio Daniels or Malik Rose or Stephen Jackson, etc. What’s important more than sentiment - reality. Spurs have adequate 3-pt shooters and they cannot have all of them on the floor at the same time. Back to court, to Kurt - here’s my insder’s take on this trade: *O what a great trade. Congrats to Pop and R.C. Most everyone will focus on the loss of Barry and the charisma he brought to the team as an indicator that Spurs blew it, but this was a very shrewd interchange. The loss of the 1st round pick hurts because Spurs need an infusion of new blood due to their high average age, but the fact remains that Ian Mahinmi and Tiago Splitter are waiting in the wings, more so Splitter. Now Pop will have the flexibility to go with a Duncan/Thomas/Bowen frontcourt set in a halfcourt game ending situation or a Duncan/Oberto/Udoka in a faster pace game. Bowen and Udoka complement each other beautifully as it seems that Udoka is Bowen's heir apparent. For this year a Finley/Ginobili/Bowen/Udoka rotation at the 2 and 3 positions is perfect. Once Parker is 100%-back, the combo of Vaughn and Stoudamire also complement each other well - one known for his running of the offense, the other more of a scorer/outside threat (whatever the situation dictates). The wild card here will be Horry, which I don't think will be as automatic as in years past. If he does pull it off in the postseason, there is no doubt he has to be regarded as one of the top 2 or 3 clutch players of all time. Again congrats to the spurs front office.* Seems like a positive move, right?

We’ve got to be prepared not only for Lakers, Suns, Rockets or Mavs (don’t forget Jazz & Hornets), but also for either Celtics (with KG/Big Baby post players) or Pistons (a very good frontcourt) in the Finals (and don’t count out Cavs, now LeBron got a big help, although it’s risky ‘cos of chemistry issues... but again Big Ben, Wally World, Joe Smith and Delonte West will help). To Spurs fans who doubt the Kurt move: the bottom line is, Spurs just improved themselves. Improved. Upgraded. For those that do not understand the decision... just wait and don't be so negative. Spurs do nothing without giving it plenty of thought. Just like last year, when they did nothing at all. If you are doubting this trade, relax. You don't know as much about basketball as you think.

I’ll go as high as saying that we now have a virtually impenetrable interior and perimeter on defense and we should dominate the boards even in a much larger Western conference. What Spurs sorely need in bigger quantities are rebounds. “Thompson” (as some fans posted on should take care of that. Additionally, Spurs are under the luxury tax and that’s only good. They’re not like Cuban who makes risky trades (read Kidd) which cost him millions of dollars, even if it’s not sure he improved his team. OK, Kidd is a good leader and a fantastic passer, but they got away a lot to get him. Mavs are going nowhere from a championship standpoint, I guess... They’ve no chance against, say, Lakers. Great headline-like move for them, yep, rings, nope.

Just another insider means: *I've always admired how Kurt was able to defend Duncan. Kurt Thomas will be a valuable addition to Spurs. If left wide open out of a double team from Duncan or Ginobili, he can knock those jumpers. But Pop got him for defense. He can't block as good as David Robinson, but if you look at the twin towers before, the player against either Duncan or David has a hard time going past one guy only to confront the other. I like to see this in Thomas... Thomas will harass the guy he's defending till he's tired, then TD will just come over either just help or block it. And Spurs need rebounds, I don't think Elson could give them that RPG and D like Kurt. As for Barry, Udoka's a better defender than him, way tougher so Popovich will take his chances on a good defender and a proven shooter than Brent's good 3-pt %. Besides, Ginobili's really doing already well in that department. I’d not really gonna cry about losing Elson when come to think of it, Splitter and Mahinmi might come next year. This trade will help Spurs THIS year (short term), but their future is not that compromised... and please, before you call out such a genius like RC Buford for complaints, please please, you don’t know what you’re doin’.*

Also remember that Kurt Thomas used to play for Suns, he has practiced against Amare and probably knows his weaknesses. So that should help a lot. Back to rebounds: Spurs need to stop giving up so many offensive rebounds. Count the number of second chance points Spurs give up and then look at the difference in point totals when we lose. If we stop giving up offensive boards (which have plagued this team for years), we will win an extra 20 games during the season and the playoffs. Well, Spurs do not get younger, but those other teams aren’t much younger. If you want a title, you have to battle for it. All those words like “potential” and “great future” are nothing, they’re just kind words but give you no rings. When you have a chance to win a title, do it, don’t care if you win it with a bunch of 35-year-old players or whomever. While everyone keep saying Spurs are old, hey just look at Suns! Their window of opportunity is smaller than ours. They’re old (Shaq, Nash, Hill, Bell) and have a very little depth. Why’s not anybody saying this?!? NO DEPTH! Especially when Shaq (and Grant Hill, too) is so injury-prone, they have seven (again seven!) guys who can play in the playoffs. Shaq, Amare, Hill, Bell, Nash and on the bench are Barbosa (who disappears in big games) and Diaw (who is unreliable). The next one here is Skinner who’s comparable with Matt Bonner and Bonner is Spurs’ 12th/13th man right now. Maybe I should be less optimistic about the Kurt trade, he didn’t do anything yet, but... defense wins championships! And Spurs seem to be adding another defenseman. As of right now Udoka is playing his best basketball for Spurs, can you see it now. It's the Playoffs with a few minutes left in the game and Spurs are ready to shut down the other teams offense and Gregg Pop sends out Timmy, Thomas, Bowen, Udoka and Manu. You can pretty much guarantee the paint has just been shut down and shooters will not have a chance to shoot any easy shots with three of the league’s best perimeter defenders. And don’t forget Tony Parker. Like everybody forgot he’s still a Spur! He is and he’s a great scorer.

The smartest part of the trade is that Brent Barry just got bought out in Seattle, so I’m not saying goodbye to him yet. I just hope David Stern or someone from league office doesn’t read this blog lol... I know Brent will come back after 30 days. He’ll be rejuvenated, healthy and we can use him for his instant treys. Besides, he’s a great lockerroom presence and a funny dude. (Mark Cuban has to bang his head against the desk, because Stackhouse is such a moron... his open mouth messed the better Kidd-offer for Mavs.)

Overall, a very smart trade. Things are lookin' good for San Antonio. Things are lookin’ good! Back-to-back, yeah!

p.s.: once all the expiring contracts have expired, the sonics will have enough cap-free bucks to buy donald trump. (-charley rosen)
p.s.2: tim duncan on robert horry's two-handed dunk - *It's been like 1963 since rob two-hand dunked like that.*
p.s.3: i mean, even if you got back a dead body for larry hughes, it would have been a moral victory. (-bill simmons)
p.s.4: if you had told a bulls fan two years ago that everything was leading toward a 2008 deadline deal that netted them larry hughes and drew gooden, they would have punched you in the face and then they would have punched you in the face again. (-bill simmons)

Posted by Foreigner in CS - Feb 24 2008 12:34PM

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