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San Antonio Spurs: That looked like the end of an era, but can one big move revive it?

May 10, 2010, 5:09 PM EDT

NBA_Parker.jpgPhoenix’s defense is getting a lot of attention — everyone from Gregg Popovich on down is saying it’s better, even if the stats don’t really say the same thing.

Whatever. That’s not why the Suns swept the Spurs aside in four games. The sweep happened because the Spurs were not the same defensive team they were even three years ago.

Those Spurs teams were physical, they slowed the Suns down, and they hampered the Steve Nash/Amare Stoudemire pick and roll. The Spurs were a great defensive team that beat the Suns offense in a battle of strengths.

Not anymore. Tim Duncan has gone from the best pick-and-roll defending big in the game to pretty average. And Nash eats pretty average up and spits it out. The Spurs rotations were slow to the arc, the Suns got up court fast, found the mismatch and exploited it. That didn’t used to happen, but it does now. The Spurs are not a bad defensive team, but they are no longer elite.

The Spurs dynasty era looked over.

It leaves their General Manager RC Buford with a big question: Do you tweak the existing roster and think with some good role players this team has one more run in it, or do you go for the big move?

The Spurs have some good young pieces — DeJuan Blair and George Hill — at affordable salaries. But Duncan, recently-re-signed Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Richard Jefferson combine to make almost $59 million by themselves. The Spurs have seven guys under contract next year and are already bumping up against the luxury tax.

Buford made the “win with this core” move last year by bringing in Jefferson, which didn’t work as he hoped. With the salary restrictions, the tweaks for next year would not be big, it would mean counting on an aging core to play better.

But a big move would come at a big price. The Spurs are not going to move the iconic Duncan, they just re-signed Manu and nobody is giving anything of value for Jefferson.

That leaves Tony Parker in a sign and trade. He is in the last year of a deal paying him $13 million, and he will be just 28. Still a top-flight point guard so a team may trade for him to get a good year then free up salary as the new Collective Bargaining Agreement comes in. That is the kind of name that could get you a big name free agent — Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson and others.

The Spurs dynasty looked done in the last four games. To win another title with Duncan will mean breaking up the band, moving one of he big three.

Will the Spurs really do that? Going to be an interesting summer.

  1. Bushka - May 10, 2010 at 6:06 PM

    Not to forget that the spurs are very much looking to bring over the top Euro Big Tiago Splitter next season whose rights they own and who can now sign on for more than the Draft restricted pro rata salary (he will hopefully be the spurs MLE).
    Thats a big move for them to add a guy that has excellent fundamental pick and roll D as well as a good post game.
    Dejaun Blair with a jump shot plus a healthy Tony Parker and suddenly thats not such a bad summer.
    Of course finding a Kevin McHale to take R.J and give us back a legit small forward is going to be more difficult. Malik Hairston is an excellent young prospect and may actually make the jump next season.

  2. Adam T - May 10, 2010 at 6:41 PM

    They need to target Bosh. I don’t know if Toronto would be really interested in TP with Calderon and Jack, but he’d be a definite upgrade. Perhaps a deal involving TP and Jefferson for Bosh and Calderon would make sense. Jose backing up Hill, then the Spurs fill starting 3 spot with the mid-level. Both Jeff and Parker will be expiring and Toronto gets something back, maybe a first rounder too. Also, Bosh is a Texan so you know he’d be down. It would definitely put the Spurs back in the mix in the West.

  3. geno - May 11, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    r u serious, yall r da stupidist fans ever. The spurs need to keep to top three players together and trust me George Hill can’t do what Parker does against a defence which showed against pheonix in the playoffs. I mean Nash was guarding him the whole series and Hill never attacked him. What the spurs need is a new big man and a three point shooter which was another problem in the playoffs which led to the doubles teams against Duncan because nobody was afraid of the spurs hitting a three pointer anymore. And That affected tony and manu while driving in the lane. So know what you are talking about before posting something online you idiots.

  4. Rick - May 12, 2010 at 1:25 AM

    Duncan, Manu and TP can still play…Hill is a nice young plater, as is Blair. Jefferson is a bust at that price however and we need some legitimate depth and a legitimate 3-point shooter. I can’t see trading TP, and there is no room for Bosh given the cap and the inability of moving RJ…So look to the draft and possibly picking up some bench help…Other than that, blow it all up and start over.

  5. myke - May 13, 2010 at 2:51 AM

    I dont believe any trade with tp should be done he has a unique skill set thats hard to find in a point guard . Now if you can eat some of jefferson money and pay someone to take him @ half the cost for a chris Bosh or Joe Johnson thats a buyable option you dont let much go and u get a big return the spurs need another big man and I forgot the hard noes defender on our bench he can be our new bruce bowen .But by no minds do u break up the tony parker ,tim duncan connection .we talk about TD taking to much punishment in paint if tp isnt there he will take alot .but i do agreen we need a player like a Joe johnson or chris bosh but i rather have a big then a small if Ginobili plays like he has with Tim duncan and parker, Bosh with be that messing piece

  6. Jack - May 13, 2010 at 8:51 PM

    Geno…look at reality man. Yes Parker can still play, but Hill is going to get better this off season and so is Blair. The spurs have so many young guys that really didnt get much time. A lot of Spurs fans and media are trying to get the Spurs to be this showtime team and that’s not what they are. If the Spurs do go after and get bosh (the best available and makes the most since). Then that will work for tony and the Spurs (being that Tony’s wife works in Cali). The only other thing that I could see and this is a long shot in the dark, but is for te spurs to trade for Chris Paul and the sign like Dirk, by letting Jefferson go and saving 15 million being that he is on the ETO in 2010-2011; or someone like a Tyson Chandler, Yao Ming(probably never gonna happen), or a person that I like that could replace Jeffersons’ spot and is still a young guy at 25 years of age is Adam Morrison. He only is making 5 million this year and the spurs can offer him a MLE or somewhere around 3-5 million if he’s willing to sign. What I’m saying is is that there are plenty of players out there that the Spurs can go after, they just need to try and get them. Take a look for yourself if you’d like

  7. vicegomez - May 13, 2010 at 9:54 PM

    here’s the new roster

  8. vicegomez - May 13, 2010 at 10:05 PM

    it is not the end of the world guys
    we have to keep a balanced team of veterans and young blood
    the new members will be replacing the aging big three and this will the new spurs team 3 years down the road
    the free agency has lot of good talents it is up to the spurs mgmt if they are willing to spend and match the ever tough western conference. remember after 3 years the big three are gone and that is not the time to rebuild. now is the time while we have the opportunity to pluck guys like bosh, j johnson and kyle korver
    james gist and anthony tolliver are just more than happy to be in the spurs roster and they have bright futures
    kyle korver is the guy we need for the steady dose of 3 points
    we should rebuild now
    oh forgot to mention raja bell

  9. rjrobert - May 13, 2010 at 10:35 PM

    I think we lack depth behind Duncan and really a solid 2nd big man that is a threat in the front court. We lack three point shooters when we won in 2007 we had finley, barry, horry, and even bowen made some big threes from the corner. I think Bosh would be the ideal aquisition now if that means trading Tony Parker maybe its worth it maybe its not there really isn’t any way to know that for sure but when Parker is healthy he is one of the best point guards in the league. But to have a solid big man like bosh to help spread the floor as well as protect and provide shooting in the paint would be huge. Now everyone is talking about Tiago Splitter he is a solid player but he does not have a consistent jumpshot but he would proivde solid defense without a doubt the only problem is whether or not he will sign with us. I think jefferson could get better next year but i think to be able to sign bosh and more players than the 7 we have under contract we will need to either restructure RJs contract or release him because he doesn’t have alot of trade value. I think this summer could be vital, Duncan and Ginobli have a good 3 to 4 years left and i think with a viable bigman opposite duncan and improved three point shooting that Pop can coach them up on defense and we could be serious contenders but i really don’t know i’m just throwing that out there i would hate to break up the big 3 but i don’t see anyway around it if we are to aquire a difference maker

  10. frankie - May 17, 2010 at 10:04 AM

    ok i see what everyone is saying and yes…joe johnson would be nice or chris bosh but lets be reasonable RC buford is not going to make that move i think David Lee from NY would be a good PF move Duncan to C and look for someone that can shoot the 3 ball like yes Kyle korver or we can go in the direction like Travis Outlaw who is long and and can score at the SF or Tyson Chandler at C and my Favorit if we can pull him cause i know he is a restricted free agent is Rudy Gay.

  11. Mark - May 26, 2010 at 5:01 PM

    Spurs need to draft solid big men to play along side Duncan no more weak centers lets spread the floor stuff, if possible maybe trade parker or jefferson they never play good together and parker doesnt play good d hes an offensive point and with hill on the rise he can be a solid point with defense. Get some young guys to surround the core and bring back the classic defensive minded spurs.

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