Well, here we are now. As I’m concluding this piece, it is Monday, February 11, 2019. The squad that San Antonio has right now, is the squad that they will take with them into the rest of the year. It has been an interesting week and a half since I last spoke with Y’all. Some drama, mixed with some somewhat shaky play. To top it all off, I know that is a ton of restriction coming from the fan base on why San Antonio didn’t make a move. These will all be things broken down throughout the piece. Normally, you see me go for the happy introduction, today, things might be a little different. It is time to really check back in, deeply into reality.
Currently riding a four-game losing streak is rough. When you look into these couple of games, there’s a lot to be said as to why there’s been a struggle.
1. DeMar doesn’t look 100% healthy. I’m not saying that he’s dealing with something drastic, but over the last month or so, he has looked like a different player. While at times he shows the aggression to actively get to his spot on the floor and pull-up, we’ve seen it become a little inconsistent. While this isn’t a shot at his play, (still putting up 22-6-6 on 47%) you can tell on the court he’s been playing a lot more passive than usual. He’s been willing to kick and not aggressively engage throughout the entirety of a game. Not due to lack of “want to” but more in a sense there’s not really a comfort there for him.
On the other end of the court, while he’s never been an “ALL-NBA” defender, he’s stayed relatively good at being a solid team defender throughout the year. As of recently, he hasn’t been quite as effective on that end. I know he’s been dealing with a slight knee problem, and Pop has made reference to rest “to lessen the load” also, to not rush to bring him back in any matter. DeMar has been on record saying: “Couple of years ago, I’d be playing. Just trying to be smart. Down the road, I don’t want to have anything nagging or bugging me. I want to be as fresh as possible down the stretch.”
2. Lackluster bench play. I know in Spurs history everybody laughs at the clip where the reporter asks LBJ & DWade, “is it your lackluster offense, or lackluster defense” back in 2014. In all seriousness though, the bench production has been very hit or miss. Like all NBA teams, you can’t expect your bench to give you 60 points a night. It’s not reasonable. Recently though, the bench has struggled a bit. Guard play has been hurting mightily on both ends of the floor. While Mills has struggled, Bryn has as well. The shooting hasn’t been where it was, and the defense has been shockingly inconsistent.
Defensively they’ve been good team defenders as well, but that has skid a bunch through this stretch. Passing hasn’t been as good either, I believe it’s truly just a slump in this long NBA season. Marco has been somewhat inconsistent all year, seemingly makes every off-balance, 1 leg above his head 3 pointers though. It’s so dope to see honestly. He’s a guy who really shines in the playoffs though. I expect him to show up around that time. Lastly on the bench, Pau Gasol. I’ve been told I’m a little hard on him, but now I hope everybody sees what I’ve been saying. This isn’t a personal shot, I don’t care for any of that, this is just more so reality. When he plays in a game, the Spurs are considerably worse.
Defensively, he offers not very much. If this was 28-year-old Pau, I’m certain things would be different. Offensively he is a solid passer but doesn’t offer you anything else besides that. While he wasn’t playing, San Antonio was giving big minutes to Jakob Poeltl. They played so much better with him, offensively he is a good passer and a great finisher at the rim. Defensively, a solid rim protector who can really rebound well. Now, with the return of Pau, the chemistry and play of the second unit (primarily Jakob) really has been hurting. They can’t seem to find that rhythm that they once had, and I’m not putting this solely on Gasol, but he’s a big key to that. (This won’t be the last time you hear about this, either.)
3. Lastly, transition defense. According to Team Rankings, the Spurs are 25th in transition defense and I’m surprised we aren’t worse. With injuries and losses to guys like Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Kawhi Leonard & Danny Green, even slow-mo Kyle Anderson, you would have to expect that. This really has been a struggle all season though. I’m sure San Antonio is really paying attention to the buyout market currently, but they really are struggling in this department. They haven’t seemed to find a way to consistently stop teams on the break, and it’s hurt them tremendously. While I do believe this can be fixed, they definitely need to bring some juice to that defensive unit. Even if you can sign someone who isn’t the best offensively, if they can make up for it defensively, I don’t see why you shouldn’t or wouldn’t bring them in.
Trade deadline, Buyout market, Pau Gasol trade demands:
Before I get out of your hair, this is how we will close this game. Y’all know I’m like Kyrie when it comes to closing these out, straight cash every time. So let’s get it wrapped up.
I am very proud to say that I am plugged into the Spurs community. With that being said, I understand and saw all of the frustration as to why the San Antonio Spurs didn’t make a move at the trade deadline. If you are looking for a reason, I can put it as simple as this. This is not a rib, after speaking to someone that is close to the Spurs, I have gained the knowledge that San Antonio wasn’t willing to give up anyyoung player or any draft picks whatsoever at the trade deadline. Which honestly, does make sense. The young guys that the Spurs have, really have come on this season.
While they have been inconsistent, that’s what you expect from young players. San Antonio has a very complex system, if these guys are picking it up and doing so well at it, I wouldn’t be very quick to trade them. If we are talking about older players who could already have their replacements on the squad (Pau, Patty) then, of course, you move on! Be realistic, who is going to give up something of significance for over 30-year-old players, on medium to big sized contracts? It’s just not going to happen. It’s frustrating, I know. You see all this movement and you wonder why your team doesn’t add something as well, but I see it like San Antonio is really playing for this coming off-season. They have a couple of players who will need money come to this off-season.
I’m sure they’ll move on from a couple of guys, but they are playing for the bigger play here so to speak. I know this isn’t how they are thinking, but the way I see it, why make a significant move when in reality you have absolutely no shot to win this year. Play for next year, more money, better opportunity, use this chance to really elevate and evaluate your young talent. Even if Kevin Durant gets hurt, or Steph Curry gets hurt, Golden State is smacking everyone in the NBA in a seven-game series. Alexa, please play “Sad But True” by Metallica.
Now, as to the buyout market, I don’t have any significant interest in anyone outside of Markieef Morris. I wouldn’t mind the Spurs adding a true C like a Robin Lopez just to help LMA play his normal PF position for a now majority of the time. Markieef though can give you length and athleticism at 6’10, and a decent 3 point shooter. He can play some defense too, he really is a solid player. He is a ham and cheese kind of guy, I mean good ham and cheese, not the trolling I did a couple of days ago.
Lastly, Pau Gasol trade demands. The funny thing about all of this is that you wouldn’t have expected him to make a demand, I thought it would’ve mostly been the Spurs just outright trading him but I doubt that was going to happen.
The Spurs are a very loyal franchise to the players and always make sure that they are taken care of. Which at times, really bites them in the behind. You don’t really hear much about trade demands coming out of San Antonio, it hasn’t really been talked about much. To him, I say though, good luck in all your future endeavors. If I’m San Antonio, if you can get a 2050 conditional 2nd round pick for him, I would take it. For taking that contract alone, do it. Now, I’m sure if he’s with San Antonio after this year which he obviously will be, they will most likely buy him out. It has been a Wild Ride for him in a Spurs uniform. The big contract has proven to fail, as he hasn’t done anything significant to bring this team to the next level.
At a price tag of 16 million, you would’ve expected different from the HOF Center. This isn’t sour grapes, but man, Pau Gasol really demanded a trade? Spurs fans wanted to move on from him, as did the team at the deadline. The thing is, Pau Gasol isn’t the yellow brick road to getting any talent or much use, in return. The contract and the subpar play doesn’t equal young talent or anything significant in return. I figured he was going to stay a Spur for the entirety of this contract, but looking at it now, I doubt he lasts past this season. Good day, Pau Gasol.
Ending on a positive, Congratulations LaMarcus Aldridge for making the All-Star team, and being picked by LeGoat James! I am very appreciative of what you bring to this organization game in and game out. Hopefully, we get both you and DeMar a little extra orange juice, and bring in Tobias Harris? Who knows. Enjoy some breakfast tacos though bud. Good job.