The San Antonio Spurs were one made free throw, one defensive rebound, one blocked three, or even one Ray Allen tactical mistake away from their fifth championship. It’s as if Tim Duncan’s languid expression had been painted on his face for his whole career awaiting for that soul-sucking moment. There’s no point in keeping their heads hung low deep into the 2013-14 free agency―this summer is about looking forward and not back, and some strategic acquisitions will be the perfect side dish to a squad doing plenty of looking inwardly, i.e., soul searching.
As Popovich so philosophically noted during the 2013 NBA Finals: “this is just a job” after all. And the Spurs have a job to do with no time for sentimentality. With that, they’ve kicked into full-out free agency window shopping in hopes of filling in the cracks that cost them their fifth chip.
So far, it’s looking as follows:
The Spurs Split With Splitter, Complete A Foreign Exchange
With Marcin Gortat replacing Splitter in the Finals, the Spurs win the championship and “The Block” never happens, me thinks. The Spurs might be of a similar mindset as reports state that they’re looking into a Gortat-for-Splitter swap.
With the Spurs making a qualifying offer to Splitter it seems that San Antonio’s big men stay put (Boris Diaw has decided to also remain a Spur), so rumors of the swap might be overblown. But I won’t put it past a team like the Blazers to offer Splitter a near eight-figure deal which would mean that the Spurs would most likely refuse to match. In that scenario―which might be the best for the Spurs anyway as Gortat has a good mid-range game, can defend about as well as Splitter, is more of a bruiser, and can play the pick-and-roll to the strengths of the Spurs―the Spurs would have to look elsewhere for a Duncan sidekick.
Gortat wants out of Phoenix and could help them sneak back into the Finals. Look there.
Likelihood: 65%, Which Is Dependent On Other Teams’ Interest In The Spaniard
The Kirilenko-avian comparisons are many, but the Russian forward is a deceptively compact player (6’ 9”, 235 pounds) who can bother opponents like LeBron, Curry, and Durant with craftiness, length, and dependability. As a small forward, he’d give Leonard needed rest during playoff games and could make the young All-Star-in-the-making a better offensive threat with downgraded defensive assignments.
But AK-47 opted out of $10.2 million year with the Timberwolves to test the free agency waters. If he wants more than that the Spurs won’t take him. Of course, as a wily veteran perhaps Kirilenko’s heart is in the right place. Perhaps he pulls an Allen and goes to the championship-ready Spurs for less money. Miami contrarians could only hope.
Likelihood: 50%, Depends On Whether Kirilenko Values Money Or Glory
Manu Ginobili Downgrades Pay So Spurs Can Upgrade Roster
The Argentinian will absolutely have to take a hefty pay cut to remain a Spur and let his beloved team open their doors to good pick-ups. In the 2012-13 season, Manu made $14.1 million. It’ll have to be less than half that for the Spurs to go after 1-2 necessary pieces.
Keeping him could still work wonders for the Spurs, especially if he’s no longer pressured to be their third scoring option. With a dependable backup point guard, he could also see his facilitating responsibilities drop to his level of reduced efficacy, also lessening any burdens on his free-for-all tactics.
Likelihood: 90%, Depends More On Whether Ginobili Retires Or Not; Don’t See Him Leaving For Another Team
Stealing Greg Oden From The Heat
Either the Spurs trust that Oden can overcome his injuries woes, or they’re coyly trying to nab him from the Heat. If the 25-year-old can finally put his knee injuries behind him and not under him, he could help solve Miami’s inside-game woes. Knowing that, the Spurs might be doing their best to keep Oden away from South Beach and could use Greg as a serviceable backup big man if Splitter stays or Gortat comes into the fray.
Sources say that the Cavs and the Spurs are the likeliest spots for the former Blazer. Miami might lose either way.
Likelihood: 40%, Think He Ends Up In Cleveland
John Lucas III As a No. II Option
The Spurs know that Lucas can play big games against the Heat, plus he’s a proven bench upgrade wherever he goes. So they’ve been courting him.
In all likelihood, they’ll settle for a taller, more defensive-minded backup point, and Pop might be better off without a trigger-happy floor manager (he already has one in Gary Neal).
Likelihood: 30%, Don’t See This One Materializing
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