2011 NBA Offseason: San Antonio Spurs

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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San Antonio Spurs (Last Year: 61-21)

2011 NBA Draft Team Grade:

With very solid depth at the point, the Spurs were very active on Draft Day in trying to move up in the first round. That is exactly what they did in dealing George Hill for Kawhi Leonard, who should fit in perfectly with the Spurs and possibly serve as Richard Jefferson’s potential replacement, and a sweet stroking 6-10 youngster in Davis Bertans who will probably be the next foreign steal for the Spurs. Snagging Cory Joseph at the end of the first round was shocking, but he should benefit learning from Tony Parker and could develop into a solid player once he gains more experience. (Team Grade: Makes sense)

Live 2011 NBA Draft Grades:

15. Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State
The Spurs acquired Leonard from Indiana for George Hill. With Tony Parker and Gary Neal capable at the point, Hill was expendable. Leonard will fit in perfectly in San Antonio and be groomed as a replacement at small forward for Richard Jefferson. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT!)

29. Cory Joseph, G, Texas
NOBODY had Cory Joseph as a first round pick. The Spurs have a history of finding late first-round steals but this is a huge reach. They did just trade George Hill earlier in the night so grabbing a young point guard makes sense, I just do not see Joseph making an impact in the league for a couple of years. (Pick Grade: HUH?)

42. Davis Bertans, SF, Latvia
Considering I had the Spurs taking Bertans at No. 29, getting him at No. 42 (the pick they acquired from Indiana in the George Hill trade) is tremendous value. He won’t come to the NBA for a couple of years as he continues to fill out his rail thin frame, but he is a 6-10 prospect who can stroke it from deep. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT!)

59. Adam Hanga, SG, Hungary
If there is a team I trust drafting a foreign guy who will pan out, it is the Spurs. They may have landed two future pieces to their puzzle in Bertans and Hanga. (Pick Grade: Makes sense)

*** 2011 NBA Offseason Needs and Free Agents listed below this comment box. ***

2010-11 Season Summary:
The regular season was quite standard for San Antonio as the Spurs exceeded the 50- win plateau for a remarkable 12 straight season. All that success over the 82 games went for naught though as the Spurs were bounced from the first round of the playoffs being upset by the eighth-seeded Grizzlies.

The most jarring development of the season was the major dip in production from the Big Fundamental, Tim Duncan. His 13.4 points per game was his lowest single-season scoring total by about 4.5 points per game. He also failed to top the double-digit rebound average for the first time in his 14-year career. While there are a lot of miles on his legs, head coach Gregg Popovich also purposely cut into Duncan�s minutes to keep him fresh for the postseason. Even with Duncan playing the least minutes of his career, the Spurs were able to win 60 games. However, that freshness was meaningless in the postseason as his court time increased, but his offense actually dipped ever more.

While the team still relied on Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, there was more of a team approach as eight guys averaged at least seven points per game. Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess and Matt Bonner added to the experienced core of this team, while young guys like George Hill, DeJuan Blair and rookie Gary Neal all meshed in with their roles.

This is the annual part of the Spurs season recap where I ask, “Is the end in sight?” Well judging by the fact that they won 60 games and still have a solid combination of veterans and young players, the window has not closed. But as I heard after the Spurs were eliminated from the Playoffs, “the difference between a veteran team and old team is winning and losing.” As long as the Spurs continue to hang 50-plus wins in the regular season and have a legit chance come postseason time, they are a veteran team. However, the fall to becoming an old team can happen in the blink of an eye.

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Tim Duncan/Tiago Splitter

PF: Antonio McDyess/DeJuan Blair/Matt Bonner

SF: Richard Jefferson/Kawhi Leonard

SG: Manu Ginobli/James Anderson

PG: Tony Parker/Gary Neal/Cory Joseph

NBA Free Agents:

G-Daniel Green (UFA)

SF-Steve Novak (UFA)

PG-Chris Quinn (UFA)

Offseason Transactions:

Spurs acquire SF Kawhi Leonard and SF Davis Bertans from Pacers for PG George Hill

2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $71.9 million

NBA Offseason Needs:

1. Size: It appears as if Antonio McDyess is going to retire, and with the Spurs likely to treat Tim Duncan like a rookie pitcher and limit his minutes, the Spurs could use another big body inside especially since DeJaun Blair is undersized, Tiago Splitter struggled adapting to the NBA in his first season, and Matt Bonner is best suited as being an energy guy coming off the bench and occasionally getting hot from three.

2. Small Forward: The fact that Richard Jefferson opted out of his contract last season that would have paid him somewhere in the ballpark of $14 million and yet the Spurs stilled re- signed him to a 4-year deal worth nearly $39 is still one of the great mysteries of my lifetime. He brings solid experience and leadership, and is an effective role starter, but is far beyond the pinnacle of his career, and it will look hideous when he is earning more than $11 million dollars during the 2013-14 season. Without a true reserve, the Spurs should look to add a younger small forward to back up Jefferson and give them more depth on the wing.

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