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Report: Spurs being very aggressive in trade market to upgrade roster

Jan 10, 2014, 1:50 PM EDT

San Antonio Spurs v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

We all know the San Antonio Spurs came within a Ray Allen three — or just a couple made free throws — of winning the NBA title last season (Spurs fans would like to stop reliving that, thank you very much). We also know that they are 28-8 this season, the best record in the West.

But are they really that good? Are the “aren’t they too old yet” Spurs really contenders again?

There are some troubling signs. The Spurs are 10-7 against teams .500 or better, just 1-5 against the top four in the West or the top 2 in the East. Both Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are playing well but have come down from their uber-efficient numbers last season. There are legitimate questions about if this year’s Spurs can compete with the league’s best.

In a sign the Spurs’ management isn’t sold they are being aggressive in talking trades, reports Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.

The Spurs have been unusually aggressive trying to upgrade their roster in the trade market, a signal to rival execs that Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford realize this might be the final shot at a title with the triumvirate of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Duncan, 37, has a $10.4 million player option for next season, and Parker’s future also has to be addressed; only $3.5 million of his $12.5 million for next season is guaranteed.

The conventional wisdom around the league is that the Spurs were going to go this season and next with that core, even if next season was more of a farewell tour.

But they don’t want to go around the league collecting rocking chairs and framed mementoes. No doubt this Spurs team is good, and depending on health could well be in title contention again. It sounds like management wants to ensure they are in that mix. They can worry about the rebuilding down the line.

  1. apkyletexas - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    A Miami Heat that is statistically last in the league at rebounding might not survive the East playoffs this year, so the Spurs may have a legit shot.

    • antistratfordian - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:21 PM

      Miami was last in the league last year. It’s not that big of an issue for them. The last time they were top 10 in rebounding they lost in the finals.

      • apkyletexas - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:38 PM

        The Knicks killed them on the boards and beat them handily yesterday.

        You think the Pacers aren’t paying attention?

      • antistratfordian - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:51 PM

        The Pacers already know this – they, like everyone else, have been trying to capitalize on this perceived weakness for years now, to no avail.

        The Knicks killed them on the boards because everyone has been killing them on the boards for the last two seasons. That stat isn’t as important for them as it is for other teams who can’t make up for it.

        Miami makes up for it partially by leading the league in forced turnovers and FG% – they’re the only team shooting over 50% from the field (51.2% – the next closest team is the Spurs at 48.9%).

        The Heat are on cruise control right now. The only threat to them in the East is Indiana and they’re only so dangerous with that poor offense.

      • casualcommenter - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:51 PM

        apkyletexas wrote: “The Knicks killed them on the boards and beat them handily yesterday.
        You think the Pacers aren’t paying attention?”

        …Did you just start watching the NBA last week?

        The Pacers have known for the past 2 years that their best bet at beating Miami is staying big and trying to kill them on the boards. That’s been their strategy for the past 2 years in the playoffs, and the Pacers were competitive in a 6 game series in 2012 and a 7 game series in 2013 against the Heat.

        The Pacers aren’t looking to the New York Knicks for ideas on how to match up against the Heat.

        And as much as a I hate the guy, antistratfordian is correct – the Heat were awful last year in rebounding and won it all.

      • cramsinned - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:26 PM

        Heat are last in rebounding but they also allow few rebounds to opponents. Their rpg is 36.4 and they only allow their opponents to 40.3 rpg (3rd best in the league) so their rebound differential is only 4. They’re also allowing opponents to attempt 78.6 FG per game (also 3rd best in the league). They shoot the ball efficiently and force many turnovers (16.9 topg) against opponents, that’s why there are only few available rebounds.

      • elcapitanfiscal - Jan 10, 2014 at 6:25 PM

        Also, the Heat are number one in shooting percentage

        I guarantee lebron will beast it on the boards this postseason just like every other year.

        Didnt Ray Allen hit that 3 in game 6 off an offensive rebound from Bosh?

        Pacers may be better at rebounding, but Miami is arguably better at everything else..oh yeah and they have Lebron

  2. nghtrder169 - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    “Hey Spurs I got a great instant offense player for your bench… And get this his name is only 2 syllables – JR”

    - A begging Steve Mills (Knicks GM)

    • apkyletexas - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:41 PM

      Package him with Steph Currey in a 3-team trade and you’ve got yourself a deal. As long as SA doesn’t have to actually keep Smith.

  3. legend30 - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:13 PM

    How big of an upgrade they want? Because only trade assets they have is K. Leonard and D. Green. Both of them aren’t playing up to their potential this year. I don’t see the Spurs trading K. Leonard, but we have seen stranger things happening in the NBA. You could also add Marco Belinelli, but I also don’t see Spurs trading him. Only player I can see them trading at this point is D. Green. What do you guys think?

    • savvybynature - Jan 10, 2014 at 9:15 PM

      Bonner is also a tradeable asset. He isn’t a game changer by any means, but he is a solid rotational big and stretch 4s seem to be more and more valuable the direction the league is headed.

  4. themagicfanguy - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    Afflalo, Nelson, an Glen Davis are always available.

  5. jbeagles23 - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    The pacers know they can crush the heat on the boards. They did last year too. How’d that work out?

    • asimonetti88 - Jan 10, 2014 at 4:02 PM

      Because last year has a ton of bearing on THIS year.

  6. lemfaxx - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    Bynum… lets see how tough he is under coach pop..

    • spursareold - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:13 PM

      The words ‘Bynum’ and ‘tough’ should never be used in the same sentence.

  7. coldarcluck - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    Afflalo!!

  8. freeworld - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    big four wont get traded. duncan will retire to save the team, manu stays, resign parker small pay cut and lock down leonard.

  9. freeworld - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    players like greg monroe @ C, avery bradley @ backup PG, terence ross backup SF, gordon hayward @ SG could help the team

  10. mrlaloosh - Jan 10, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    Popovich is the best coach since Phil Jackson. If he the talent Jackson had he’d be in the conversation of best ever. No doubt.

    • antistratfordian - Jan 10, 2014 at 4:38 PM

      Pop is overrated. Duncan might be slightly underrated. Duncan would have more rings if he was coached by Jackson instead.

      Pop should just retire when Timmy does so he doesn’t get exposed.

      • edwardemanuelson - Jan 10, 2014 at 5:17 PM

        This guy hates the Spurs! It never fails. Every time. It’s laughable.

      • antistratfordian - Jan 10, 2014 at 5:33 PM

        Lies from a lie spreader! I love me some Duncan, Parker and especially Manu. I’m not a big fan of Pompous Pop’s arrogance, but it is the often repeated/parroted balderdash about Pop being the best coach in the league which I find most bothersome.

      • azarkhan - Jan 10, 2014 at 5:27 PM

        Hey antiShakespeare, you’re a joke. Crawl back under your rock.

      • antistratfordian - Jan 10, 2014 at 5:34 PM

        cry more, hater.

      • elcapitanfiscal - Jan 10, 2014 at 6:29 PM

        Are u serious anti?

        I will not take any of your future posts with any seriousness, I hope you are trolling..if you really believe whay you said then you need to get your brain checked, you might be suffering from a case of Stupid

      • antistratfordian - Jan 10, 2014 at 6:33 PM

        I didn’t think anyone was taking them seriously anyway. But, yes, I’m 100% dead serious.

      • davidly - Jan 11, 2014 at 7:31 AM

        I have slight issues with Pop’s arrogance, and the player/personnel side of that org deserves major credit, but the coach has really made the most out of those teams over a lot of years and has racked up so many wins that I think he should be considered an elite coach by default.

        I’ll grant you that there are aspects that are not as good as, say, Jackson–not least of which might be the occasional brain-choke in the playoffs. But there are aspects to Pop’s coaching that are superior to the Zen Master as well, like the ability to stay put and deal with the cards you’re dealt.

        Would PJ get more out of Duncan and co.? Maybe. But just about anyone else would not have anywhere remotely in the neighborhood of 1000 wins in the regular season with the same cards. He’s doing something right.

      • antistratfordian - Jan 11, 2014 at 10:40 PM

        Well, I don’t know about that… Pop is like George Karl with better players.

        I lean towards the greatness of Duncan. Pop though, for some reason, is more acclaimed than Duncan – even though everything he’s accomplished is because of TD. People talk about Pop as potentially the best coach in history (!!), whereas Duncan is only cited as the best PF – but never in the top 5 – and if he makes the top 10 it’s usually as the 10th selection.

      • davidly - Jan 12, 2014 at 6:16 AM

        You make a good point about Duncan’s low-ranking amongst the all-time best as a conundrum, considering one often hears him presented as the best big in the game. Whether or not he gets enough credit certainly depends on who you’re talking to; he certainly doesn’t get enough across -the-board amongst the universal peanut gallery, which is, by definition, I suppose, underrated, and has just as much to do with his style of play (goes off glass too much, for example).

        Popovich, however, receives the across-the-board respect he does because he makes it work on both sides of the ball consistently and with a more diverse range of line-ups. So, yeah, he is Karl with better overall talent. I would bet that if you looked at all the games without Duncan, though, he’d have a pretty decent record as well.

        As far as greatest of all time goes, that really depends on what the criteria is–and I don’t really believe it’s possible to make such distinctions, try as we might. Hell, I think Larry Brown might be the greatest of all time, until he isn’t. Then there’s Wilkins, Auerbach, Sloane, Riley, Jackson, who have all shown a exceptional ability to mold a team personality towards the pinnacle of success. I don’t know how one leaves Popovich off that list. But, yeah, greatest of all time? I’m wary of arguments laying claims to one’s greatest of all time-ness.

    • azarkhan - Jan 10, 2014 at 5:28 PM

      Pop is already the conversation for best ever.

  11. 2late2matter - Jan 10, 2014 at 4:27 PM

    The article didn’t provide much detail as to WHAT the Spurs were aggressively doing to boost their so-so bench depth. That “the team is too old” is what the NHL has been saying the past 22 years about the Detroit Red Wings, who have managed to collect a number of trophies, division titles, and playoff berths for 21 consecutive seasons, moving into this year. So, teams can win with older players while reloading the other cylinders.

    What is it the Spurs need? Experience, not necessarily youth, to push them to that NBA finals trophy they just missed last year.

    • antistratfordian - Jan 10, 2014 at 4:40 PM

      The Spurs need Duncan to be 28 again.

  12. kingjeremi84 - Jan 10, 2014 at 6:00 PM

    Gasoline for first rd pick.I know it won’t happen.but it would immediately help them out

  13. a0kalittlema0n - Jan 10, 2014 at 6:24 PM

    Anti, who is the best NBA coach? I don’t think there are too many coaches much better than Pop..

  14. weaselpuppy - Jan 10, 2014 at 8:16 PM

    Can we get a deal centered around Kawhi Leonard and Greg Monroe worked out?….I can’t take much more of Josh Smith playing the 3….

  15. savvybynature - Jan 11, 2014 at 2:59 AM

    I imagine the Spurs are being aggressive because an inordinate number of teams have decided to tank based on the promise of the upcoming draft. That should make some valuable assets very gettable as teams look to shed salaries and possibly try to get worse.

    Of course they have a small window left, but I don’t think they are worried about their team. They may not have a “signature win,” but they do have the second best record in the league and the best in the West.

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