By Michael De Leon, Jeff Garcia and Jordan Rivas
Generally winning a championship leaves most teams feeling satisfied. But then, most teams feeling satisfied generally don’t win more championships.
Even after four titles in nine years, the Spurs have never repeated. And thus, not long after their Finals sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Silver and Black should be (and are) already considering the moves to keep them in contention ahead of the pack.
One of the issues that isn’t pressing, but important nonetheless, is the point guard spot. Now I know what you’re thinking, Tony Parker won the Finals MVP. I noticed. What I’ve also noticed is that Jacque Vaughn (an unrestricted free agent himself) isn’t getting any younger and Beno Udrih wasn’t getting anymore experienced while he was glued to the bench during the playoffs. Tony Parker is great, and the Spurs’ current backups are serviceable, but some additional depth and competition for the spots behind Parker wouldn’t hurt, and so long as it doesn’t cost the Spurs too much, it should only help.
Steve Blake, DEN (unrestricted)
If I had to pick one point guard free agent most likely to come to San Antonio and actually work out it’d be Steve Blake. He didn’t get much playing time with Milwaukee, but the move to Denver helped him tremendously, as he started 40 of his 49 games there. It may be a tad unlikely that he’d pass up potential starter money and court time elsewhere, but I think most teams still view him as a back up – a damn good one. Blake isn’t anything phenomenal, but he just knows how to run a team efficiently, distribute the rock, and you don’t have to worry about him making too many bad decisions. Plus he’s a good shooter who knows how to stay within himself and take open shots in rhythm. His style of play and head smarts would fit perfectly with the Spurs.
Chucky Atkins, MEM (unrestricted)
Acquiring Atkins may not be easy, because so long as NBA GMs haven’t all gone brain dead, he should be a highly sought after commodity. Chucky is a veteran lead guard who simply knows how to play. He can run your team and spread the ball around, or provide a burst of points off the bench. He could start on some teams, and easily be the number one backup for any team that wants him. Atkins would be the first true, clear-cut number two point guard the Spurs have had since Speedy Claxton, and while that may stunt the growth of Udrih, the competition may push him to get better, and in the immediate future it would help the Spurs.
Jason Hart, LAC (unrestricted)
I always liked Jason Hart when he was with the Spurs. After a whirlwind trip around a few different teams in the league to grow and develop as a player, I wouldn’t mind seeing him return to San Antonio. Hart is a tough, hard-nosed, heady player that could come off the bench and make a contribution. While his jumpshot has never been great, Hart is a hustler, who plays great defense, and is an underrated passer and distributor. He would be a great replacement for Vaughn and offer a great change of pace and variety when coupled with Udrih coming off the bench.
Since Sean Elliott retired, the one thing Spurs fans have been yearning for is a young, athletic swingman, preferably a small forward. Not that we don’t appreciate Bruce Bowen and his defensive prowess, but it’s clear that’s one of the Spurs’ oldest positions. Will James White be the answer? Even if he turns out to be a good young player, the Spurs still need to prepare for the future.
Gerald Wallace, Charlotte Bobcats (Unrestricted)
If I could pick one of any players on this list of forwards or for that matter this entire list that I want the Spurs to make a run at the most, it would be Gerald Wallace. Wallace is a freak. He’s athletic to boot and a multi-dimensional player the Spurs could use. That’s why he’s one of the most coveted fantasy NBA players. Last season after a rough start, he finished the year averaging 18 points, seven rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot per game. If the Spurs were somehow able to pull this off, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them play Wallace at shooting guard with Bowen keeping his starting spot.
Andres Nocioni, Chicago Bulls (Restricted)
Nocioni is restricted, which means the Bulls can match any offer sheet he signs, but he became expendable after Luol Deng had a coming out party in the NBA playoffs. Over his three-year career, he has become one of the NBA’s most efficient three-point shooters. Last season he averaged 14 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, but those numbers dropped to 8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game during the playoffs. Nocioni would give the Spurs their third Argentine player and three members of the Argentine Gold Medal team.
Mickael Pietrus, Golden St. Warriors (Restricted)
Before the playoffs, word was that the Warriors would not match offers Pietrus got in the offseason. While his numbers may not look too impressive, (14 points and 4.5 rebounds per game) when you see that he did that in 6 minutes per game last season, you wonder what he would do with in increase in floor time. Besides that, he’s young and he has gradually improved throughout his four years in the league. He would most likely come in as a backup, but with the potential to eventually start.
Matt Barnes, Golden St. Warriors (Unrestricted)
Barnes has bounced around quite a bit throughout his four-year career. He’s never done much to really get my attention until the 2007 NBA Playoffs. While he did well offensively, his work on the defensive end is what impressed me the most. He was given several different defensive assignments in the first round against Dallas, including defending Dirk Nowitzki, and the job he did there helped the Warriors give the Mavericks a first round exit.
Devin Brown, New Orleans Hornets (Unrestricted)
Devin is actually a guard/forward. He played both positions during his stint with San Antonio and I would not mind him coming back. In fact as soon as he was traded to Golden State before last season and then waived, I thought the Spurs would definitely sign him. New Orleans ended up picking him up when they had several injuries and he really got to show what he’s capable of. He averaged 11.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 58 games for the Hornets and would bring an athletic 2/3 who can also rebound quite well for his size. In fact he is UT- San Antonio’s all-time leader in points and rebounds. Is it time to bring him back home?
With the Spurs drafting Center Tiago Splitter from Tau Ceramica, the Spurs are clearly showing the need for a legit center. Though Oberto does play well at times and Elson, well….sucks ass, the Spurs need to address the hole in the middle. With Tiago not coming to the Spurs until at least next season, there aren’t many free agent centers the Spurs could look at for some immediate help but here is one that can definitely help.
Mikki Moore, NJ Nets (Unrestricted)
Coming off a great year, Moore, the one time Spurs, could bring energy and hustle to the Spurs. Much more active than Oberto and Elson, he could be a viable Center to play along side Duncan. He avergaed 9.8 points per game and shot 61% from the field. Only knock against him is that he doesn’t rebound as much.
Darco Milicic, Orlando Magic (Restricted)
Yes we all know he was a bust after being drafted so high by the Pistons, but last year with the Magic, he showed he has a good jump shot, great rebounder and blocked shots. Problem is that he may want a contract close to 50 million.
By Michael De Leon, Jeff Garcia and Jordan Rivas