The San Antonio Spurs don’t need an overhaul. They just need another big.
The media’s frequent use of the word overhaul in reference to the Spurs following their first round defeat by the Memphis Grizzlies is a horrible case of sensationalism or a gross misunderstanding of the word. The Spurs won 61 games this season. Their offense and defense were in or near the top ten. They lost to a fast up-and-coming team. Memphis is not your usual barely .500 team creeping into the playoffs because you need eight teams per conference in the NBA brackets. The Grizzlies went 33-16 after settling their rotation during the holidays (I’m discounting their last two games when they rest their starters). Over 82 games that’s a 55-27 pace. If a 61 win team loses to a 55 win team during a playoff series, the cause is usually a bad matchup and that’s what happened here. The Spurs lacked the interior depth to match up against the Griz big men, especially Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
And since facing the other members of the Western Conference elite going forward will mean staring down a barrel of duos like Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka, or Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowtizki, it’s imperative that San Antonio improve their frontcourt depth. For years, the allowed Tim Duncan to practically go it alone in the paint. They can’t do that anymore. What they need isn’t the next LaMarcus Aldridge, but someone to replace Antonio McDyess’s minutes. This won’t be the hardest thing in the world to do (Jeff Foster, anyone?), and it certainly won’t amount to an overhaul.
Denver doesn’t miss ‘Melo as much as it misses Chauncey.
When the Denver Nuggets offense stalled late in the games during the first series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the howls went out for how much they miss Carmelo Anthony, who was traded to New York in February. True, ‘Melo is a great late game shot maker, but handing the ball to someone and getting out of the way is also a broken down offense. What happened repeatedly in late game possessions for Denver was that the OKC defense sniffed out the play Denver was running and shut it down. Former point guard Chauncey Billups, who went to NY in the ‘Melo deal, commanded the floor well enough to change a play if it was failing; his successors, Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton don’t impose that level of authority on the team. Thus the Nuggets struggled late, lost three close games, and are watching the rest of the playoffs on their big screens at home.
The New Orleans Hornets Face the Most Interesting Offseason
Simply put the league owns the Hornets, and the team has key free agents in forwards David West and Carl Landry. Letting West walk in particular would probably lead all star point guard Chris Paul to follow him out of town next year and devastate the franchise for years to come. Unfortunately the recent history of leagues running franchises isn’t pretty.
That was fast.
Two and half weeks ago, the Portland Trail Blazers were the consensus pick as the underseeded team that no one wants to play. Now, in the harsh, morning after, light of their six game elimination by the Dallas Mavericks, they look like another capped out team that is over dependent on frequently injured talents. Sports is cruel like that. It turns out the underseeded team was in Memphis.