Go Spurs Go
1999 - 2003 - 2005 - 2007 - ?
Guaranteed spots on the roster:
Tony Parker (28) / George Hill (24)
Manu Ginobili (33) / James Anderson (21) / Gary Neal (26)
Richard Jefferson (30)
Tim Duncan (34) / DeJuan Blair (21) / Matt Bonner (30)
Tiago Splitter (25) / Antonio McDyess (36)
Who else? The roster reflects that Alonzo Gee, James Gist, Curtis Jerrells, Bobby Simmons, and Garrett Temple haven't yet been cut.
The Spurs need a third PG, since Hill plays a lot of SG. Of the players currently on the roster, I think Garrett Temple is a beter option than Curtis Jerrells.
The Spurs also need a backup SF to play defense on the perimeter. Gee, Gist, and Simmons are the candidates. Gee was a star on the Toros . Gist is big enough to guard both forward positions, but he's an international basketball journeyman. Simmons is an NBA vet who can shoot 3s and guard reasonably well.
There was a recent rumor that the Spurs were going to trade a pick for Wilson Chandler, to facilitate the Melo trade.
- The only new face in the probable rotation is Tiago Splitter. Last season, McDyess, RJ, Bogans, and Blair were all in their first year with Pop. (Bogans is gone now.) They say a player really starts thriving under Pop in his second season with him. Apparently, RJ spent much of the summer working out with Pop and Blair worked on his outside shot. Hopefully, they will better understand their roles and show their comfort in the Spurs system. Same goes for McDyess, but he's old and probably won't be playing big minutes.
- Tiago Splitter. The Spurs have needed another big man for awhile. Tim Duncan has carried quite a load since the retirement of David Robinson. Rasho Nesterovic has probably been his best big man partner. (Horry and Blair and McDyess have all been solid, off and on.) There will be a transition and acclimation period for Splitter, but having a young 7 footer who can play big minutes will be huge for Duncan. *My God, I wish the Spurs had kept Scola*
- Tony Parker is in a contract year. As Manu and Duncan get even farther on the wrong side of 30, Tony Parker is in his prime. He had an off year, mainly due to injuries and somewhat due to incorporating all the new faces into the offense. But, as I noted, this is Year 2 for this version of the Spurs. And Parker wants to get paid. I expect a big year from him.
- George Hill and DeJuan Blair. I love these guys. Especially Hill.
- No significant NT competition this past summer. Parker and Manu rested. Splitter played some for Brazil, but he's young.
- Age. During the championship years, the Big 3 were either young or in their prime, while the rest of the roster was filled with old, grizzled, crafty vets. Now the Big 3 is old, but the rest of the roster is filled with young, relatively inexperienced role players. It's a completely different dynamic. Back in the mid-2000s, the age thing was always a stupid criticism. But now it's significant, since the most important players are breaking down and oft-injured.
- Tony Parker is in a contract year. As mentioned, this can be a good thing. But it can also mean that Parker is disgruntled and frustrated that Manu got an extension and he didn't. Parker has also mentioned that this is the last chance for the Big 3, with Duncan getting too old to truly dominate.
- Still no Bowen replacement. The Ghost of Bruce continues to haunt Pop. Bogans and Udoka were failures. RJ is a good, not great, TEAM defender. Who can be that versatile perimeter defender who can also hit the corner 3?
- Still no Horry replacement. Well, kinda. The Ghost of Horry also continues to haunt Pop. Bonner was supposed to be that guy -- a big who plays on the perimeter and stretches the defense -- but he lacks Horry's toughness, defense, and intangibles.
There's much more to say, but I've already spent too much time on this. One of these days I'll actually make a prediction about record, playoffs, etc.