Actually things are heating up fast with the Spurs so much so, they have become the talk of the NBA this week. That doesn’t sound like a lot for many NBA teams but with the Spurs it is a lot; seldom does the team come up for extensive discussion except for its wins and consistency.
There have been plenty of both over the years to drown out any form of hyper excitement when it comes to the Texas team. However, that has changed the past few days as pundits and fans alike have eyes steered towards the Spurs.
Chances of San Antonio pulling off an unforeseen trade or in house change on the blindside of pretty much everyone is low. So uncharacteristic of San Antonio Spurs, reports surfaced of star Forward Kawhi Leonard’s intention to request a trade in light of having little support from teammates.
Further information regarding the issue indicate Leonard wants another superstar on the roster to stand a chance of competing with defending champions Golden State Warriors.
Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder’s chances of beating Spurs in a seven game series has increased since both teams signed All Star free agents in the offseason.
Due to the retirement of Tim Duncan, age of Manu Ginobili and injuries to Tony Parker, the Spurs are in a spot with just one elite player to count on. Before this season, LaMarcus Aldridge did not produce like the star he was with Portland Trailblazers especially in the playoffs where he fizzled out of games completely. Until he produces like he has so far in the regular season, San Antonio remains a solo star team.
Should the issue persist, the team could be forced to go big in free agency which is something of a rarity in these parts of the NBA. Signing Aldridge two and half seasons back represented the team’s biggest summer acquisition in decades. Conversely, that is also likely to change as the game’s biggest superstar LeBron James is up for the taking this offseason.
King James immortalized his name in the history books by becoming the youngest player to score 30,000 points. Tellingly, he did so at Spurs AT&T Center when the Cleveland Cavaliers lost in San Antono draining a jump shot over former teammate Danny Green. After fulfilling a promise to bring the NBA title to Cleveland and watching his team implode this season, LeBron could be on the move again and RC Buford’s team could be his target. While bigger market teams like Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Philadelphia Sixers are first in line due to the extra goodies they have to offer, the great admiration between James and Spurs Gregg Popovich could prove too strong to ignore. The chance to play alongside Kawhi Leonard and Aldridge is another tantalizing prospect.
Just like other small market teams, money is an issue to keep top players well paid. Leonard is a two time Defensive Player of the Year Award winner and is arguably the best two way player in the league.
Aldridge is at his best when he defers attention to a trusted teammate and with James and Kawhi around, he will have more clean looks on his vaunted midrange shots. That shouldn’t be an issue factoring the consequences of DeJounte Murray’s ascension in the starting unit. The second year Guard’s move from the bench this week highlights Spurs readiness to move on should Tony Parker leave once the season is over.
Should Parker stay, he will do so on a low salary; long time teammate Ginobili is set to retire right about the same time. This means the plus$12 million salary owed to Parker and Manu respectively will be freed to be the foundation piece to build on reaching LeBron’s exorbitant salary. Parker’s reduced influence in the group has been on the wane for the seasons and Popovich introduced Murray to the starting team ahead of the Frenchman. After struggling his first time out in the new role, DeJounte created a lot of buzz around the league as he registered 19 points and seven steals in San Antonio’s win over Cavs.
The signs are clear San Antonio Spurs cannot trek the success road it has plied to five NBA titles; to clinch title six, things have to change.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter