2015/16 Record: 67-15 (2nd round exit)
|Pau Gasol||FA – 2yrs / $32mil|
|Dewayne Dedmon||FA – 2yrs / $5.9mil|
|David Lee||FA – 2yrs / $3.2mil|
|Dejounte Murray||DR – Pick 29|
|Livio Jean-Charles||FA – 5yrs / $9.6mil (Non guaranteed 3rd year)|
|David Bertans||FA – 3yrs / $2.7mil (Non guaranteed 3rd year)|
|Bryn Forbes||FA – 3yrs / $2.7mil (Non Guaranteed)|
|Ryan Arcidiacono||FA – 3yrs / $2.7mil (Non Guaranteed)|
|Patricio Garino||FA – 3yrs / $2.7mil (Non Guaranteed)|
|Nicolas Laprovittola||FA – 2yrs / $1.6mil (Non Guaranteed)|
|Boris Diaw||TR – Jazz|
|Rasual Butler||FA – Unsigned|
|Boban Marjanovic||FA – Pistons|
|Ray McCallum||FA – Grizzlies|
|David West||FA – Warriors|
|Matt Bonner||FA – Unsigned|
Off Season Analysis:
The Spurs’ disappointing end to their 2016 campaign drew the curtain on one of the NBA’s all time great careers. Tim Duncan has been everything the Spurs have stood for since their good fortune (or good tanking) way back in 1997. 5 NBA Championships and continued relevance through each of the past decades has been a phenomenal run, and it is going to be very strange seeing the Spurs without Duncan in the 2016-17 NBA season. However, the Spurs have quietly (or not so quietly) been rebuilding on the fly, the rare team that can build toward the future while not compromising the now.
The link between Spurs champions of the past and the hopeful Spurs champions of today remains with Parker, Ginobili and Popovich. While Duncan’s body finally gave way last season, Pop has expertly managed the playing time and availability of his aging stars well into the twilight of their careers. Parker in particular remains a threat on offence, but he is starting to show the wear and tear of playing deep into May/June each year. The Spurs biggest concern must be how the 34 year old can match up with the elite point guards that litter the top of the Western Conference; Curry, Westbrook, Paul and Lillard aren’t going anywhere, and while Parker will have his moments, defensively he will get carved up by the likes of these guys without Duncan’s interior defence to save him. One has to imagine that the Spurs will be going hard after one of the prime PG targets in the 2017 Free Agent pool (looking at you, CP3).
Losing Duncan was inevitable, but they found an ample short term replacement in Pau Gasol. Pau had an impressive 2015/16 season for an underachieving Chicago team – 16 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 yells per game for a guy who is 35 years old is no mean feat. Offensively, he’s as good a replacement for Duncan as the Spurs could find – unselfish, a deft passer and touch out to the three point in line these days. The potential issue is the fit of LMA and Pau on the defensive end, although perhaps Gasol is more adept on that end of the floor than the eye-test shows. Surprisingly, both LMA and Gasol finished top 20 in defensive win shares and defensive rating – we’ll see if that continues when they’re paired together. The other elephant in the room is Gasol’s age – while it is kinda funny that signing a 35yr old actually makes the Spurs starting lineup average age younger, the decline that many thought was going to happen when he signed in Chicago may finally be due.
If Gasol or LMA aren’t getting the job done defensively in the interior, the addition of Dewayne Dedmon should assist in that area. Dedmon hangs his hat on his ability to alter shots and bring energy – kind of like Biyombo, albeit slightly more under the radar after Bismack went HAM in the playoffs. If injury strikes, he will be handy insurance policy. Ironically, the Magic paid Biyombo the big Biyom-bucks to be their version of Dedmon, whereas the Spurs netted Dewayne on a very cheap deal – particularly when considering what Center’s were going for this off-season.
The most confusing addition of the Spurs off-season was the low cost addition of journeyman PF, David Lee. Lee is now on his 4th team in 2 years, with the NBA’s fascination with small ball essentially making his game extinct. Lee is a good teammate, an unselfish and willing passer (dude has had a few huge triple doubles in his career) – but he’s a woeful defender. It will be interesting comparing what the Spurs get out of Lee in comparison to what the Jazz get from Diaw, who has been a key reserve for Pop over the past few years.
The Spurs also lost their PER wonder, the Skyrim giant himself, Boban Marjanovic. Boban was the Per 36 minute GOAT last season and had his fair share of impressive moments for the Spurs in 2015/16. He will be missed, although his role was fairly limited. One hopes for a Psycho-T reunion for more hilarity.
One thing that I’m very interested to see is whether Danny Green returns to form in 2016. After watching this guy light my Heat on fire in 2013, I was stunned to see him brick so many wide open looks last season. Green regressed in just about every key category last season, and it looked like the classic case of a guy getting paid and falling off the perch. Danny underwent LASIK eye surgery in the hope it will help him rediscover his shooting stroke, but he must shoot better than 37% from the field for the Spurs to have a shot, pardon the pun.
The Spurs draft was quite nondescript, however they did pick up an intriguing talent in Dejounte Murray. Slated to be picked earlier, the Spurs swept up the 6’5″ point guard late in the first round. He has flashed some impressive traits already in Summer League and pre-season, and will be well tutored by Parker and Ginobili on the crafty skills required to be a high level guard in this league. Murray will need to put on some weight to deal with the more physical style of the NBA game, but his peers already see him as one of the steals of the draft.
I couldn’t go through this entire article without referencing the Spurs new foundation, Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge. LMA had a solid first season in San Antonio after crossing over from Portland, but his offensive numbers really took a hike in the playoffs – where he looked much more like the Aldridge of old. Now that Duncan has moved on to the retirement village, his role in the offence will likely increase again.
The NBA’s cyborg, Kawhi “The Claw” Leonard, took the leap in his 5th NBA season. Leonard made his first All-Star game, won his 2nd Defensive Player of the Year trophy and finished runner up in MVP voting. While he has always hung his hat on the defensive end, Leonard’s offence really came on in 2016 – perhaps under Kobe’s tutelage. There’s no one move that is quintessentially Kawhi, however he has mastered the art of efficient offence. He is my pick to win MVP this season, mainly because I want to see those hands dwarf the MVP trophy. He is on his way to becoming the best 2 way player in the game today. Can you imagine Indiana with him and Paul George on the wings? That George Hill deal can officially be added to Larry Bird’s fuck up list.
While the Spurs have lost some depth, adding Gasol to replace Duncan was their big splash in Free Agency 2016, with likely bigger things to come in 2017. In the meantime, improvement will have to come from within and with the top end talent that the Spurs possess – that should be achievable. The Warriors are going to be an exceptionally tough out this season, but if anyone can do it, its gotta be Pop and the Spurs.
2016/17 Prediction: 60-22
League Pass Meter: 9/10
The Spurs are always basketball poetry, and feature two of the top players in the game today. Some might call it boring basketball, I call it beautiful.
Salary Cap Situation:
2016/17 Salaries: $109,764,700
2017/18 Salaries: $71,044,740
Max room: $31 mil
Min room: $1.8 mil
2017 2nd (Hawks)
2022 2nd (Jazz)
Can Kawhi win MVP?
Will the Spurs go further than the 2nd round?
Can Danny Green hit the backside of a barn?
How does the LMA/Pau frontcourt work defensively?
Will one the Spurs youth movement state their case for a bigger role? (Murray, Simmons, SloMo)