LMA Is A Spur For Even Longer

If we were wrong about it seemingly like the Spurs wanted LMA to feel more wanted in this town, today’s news does not support that.

LMA reportedly singed a big extension that will keep him in silver-and-black for a while.

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That is good? I guess?

If nothing else the getting paid like he is super-important may help LaMarcus play like he is super-important. Honestly, after the offseason in which the Spurs considered dealing him and trading for maybe Kyrie and making a run at CP3, the Spurs went and cemented their commitment to last season’s plan.

Meanwhile the division competition is making excuses, maybe.

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Spurs Season Is Nigh

I am an old basketball soul and my biorhythms are accutely attuned to the NBA cycle. That is to say that it does not quite feel like basketball season just yet.

And yet, we are a mere six days away from the opener against the Timberwolves.

What madness is this? Well, it is the the NBA’s way of addressing the resting epidemic popularized by San Antonio’s own Gregg Popovich.

As a rule, I do not pay much attention to preseason. Still, I have noticed Rudy Gay looking good in silver-and-black even if the uniforms do not. I am nervously awaiting the announcement of a jersey-sponsor that I find gross.

The new Spurs jersey looks . . . off. I don’t know. Maybe I have truly become the Scrooge I was meant to become. So it goes.

Meanwhile, the Spurs have a billboard with Aldridge peaking over his shoulder with his nameplate prominently displayed. Somehow I feel like the marketing arm of the Spurs is doing their best to make him feel wanted.

I mean gaze upon this:

We all consider Kawhi the face of the franchise but it seems like these billboards and advertising campaigns are here to make you feel better about LMA. The thing is, I would feel great about him if he played up to his talent level.

No amount of advertising will make me less frustrated with his performance in the second half of game one against GSW.

If he plays like 1st Qtr LMA? Well, then yeah.

Finger: Kyrie Talk, Aldridge Burn

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As a counter to this, some will point to the Spurs’ acquisition of LaMarcus Aldridge, and how that has not quite met expectations. But if there have been any issues in that arrangement, it is not because Leonard hasn’t given Aldridge a chance to be assertive. It’s because Aldridge hasn’t taken him up on it.

That about sums up everything I have written about LMA. Emphasis mine.

I’ve heard that some players think Kawhi is a “system” guy whose success is dependent on the scheme, that a handful of other guys would be doing the same were they in his situation. This is a version of something even guys that are big fans of the organization have said, including Stephen Jackson.

Bob Horry even went so far to say that established players need to dumb down their game to play in San Antonio.

The thing to take from all this is that 1. This system isn’t for everyone. 2. Everyone isn’t for this system. The players that want to do the things to win value organizations that do so consistently. While Kyrie Irving looks like he is fleeing the greatest player of this generation for some substandard situation, he actually is taking control of his fate: LeBron is not long for Cleveland (because Dan Gilbert is a clown) and Irving wants some place where he can do his thing without uncertainty. San Antonio may not be ideal for his ego, but it is a model of consistency.

Uncle Drew in Silver and Black?

The NBA’s silly season just got sillier, as Brian Windhorst reported that Kyrie Irving wants out of Cleveland. This news is amazing in and of itself, and if Kyrie gets his wish before next June we can give up any hope of seeing a competitive NBA Finals matchup whatsoever.

What made it even more intriguing for we San Antonio Spurs followers was this from Woj:

Well then. The Spurs have had a relatively disappointing offseason and are mired in their own Trade Me saga in LaMarcus Aldridge. Kyrie is certainly no Chris Paul but he is the type of super star scorer the team only has one of. Winning in this league requires more than one guy nowadays, and getting one of the guys that partnered up to eliminate the Warriors would be a great step toward achieving that next year.

This is all part of a larger drama that stems back from the pre-LBJ-Return days, according to Windhorst, and exacerbated by the incompetency of one Dan “Comic Sans” Gilbert. David Griffin held it together and helped build a title-winning team and now he is gone and everything is falling apart.

The multifaceted question: Should the Spurs try for Kyrie?

The exceedingly simple answer: Hell yes.

There is a lot to consider, including whether Kahwi would be cool with deferring offensively to Kyrie, whether the Spurs care about that. It is all speculative at this point but I do not think the Cavs would be happy with LaMarcus Aldridge and change for Kyrie Freaking Irving. But then again, who knows what is going on with that team.

Link Post: Filling Out The Roster

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Paul Garcia of Project Spurs has a post summarizing Euro Hoops for us and adding speculating about the rest of the roster. The Internet has been wondering about defensive specialist Adam Hanga. Garcia:

For Hanga, he’s already 28 and just came off one of his most productive seasons with Laboral Kutxa, where he was named the Euroleague Defensive Player of the Year. For now, it’s about two waiting games. Does he wait for decisions by Simmons and Ginobili, in the event they both leave, that would open minutes for him and possibly a higher salary? Or, does he take the offers overseas before they’re off the table and go to another free agent?

From an earlier post on Euro Hoops:

It’s not a secret that the Spurs are closely monitoring him, specially the last two seasons and the time for him to play in the NBA has come, according to sources close to the situation.

The situation is ripe with speculation, and only “sources” are cited.

This could mean anything and is true enough that we cannot dismiss it. Yes, the Spurs are closely monitoring their draftee. It does not take close sources to suss that out, however. We do not need super detective powers to figure out that SA cannot offer much to any free agent at the moment.

As Zach Lowe put it yesterday:

Last summer’s spending orgy, amid a one-time-only mega-spike in the cap, soaked up more of this season’s space than anyone expected — especially when the league’s projected cap fell from $107 million a year ago, to $101 million, and then finally to $99 million. (The league’s most recent projection for the 2018-19 season, sent to teams last week, sits at $102 million, per league sources — a tiny uptick.)

The team missed on Chris Paul in part because of the Aldridge drama, and settled for Rudy Gay. The tight market has created a quirky scenario where the Spurs are waiting on a guy to retire and another G-Leaguer to make a decision.

The bargain-bin season is upon us. Last year the Spurs picked up two quality guys in David Lee and Dwayne Dedmon, getting big minutes from both throughout the season. We never did find out exactly what it was that caused DD to find himself in Pop’s doghouse, nor what David Lee was thinking he could get by opting out.

(Speaking of David Lee, he is in England for Wimbledon.)

Neither signing was thought to be huge, but they were notable. I am leaning toward a Serbian signing given the abundance of wings at the moment. While Rudy Gay and Kawhi can and will get minutes at the 4, an actual big man to set screens and battle is useful against the Thunder, Pelicans, Kings and other big front courts.


Further reading:

[PS]
[Eurohoops]
[Zach Lowe’s FA column]

Rudy Gay Signed For 2-Years, $17 Million

When I think of Rudy Gay, I think of this definitive Grantland piece that highlighted all that was wrong with “The Great Rudini” during his career.

He was inefficient, a criticism that Rudy Gay himself did not dispute, and was offloaded to make room for the DeRozan and Lowry’s development. This was a smart move, considering the Raptors went on to have their greatest seasons without Mr. Gay.

About five weeks ago the Raptors traded Rudy Gay to Sacramento. Since then, he’s looked like a marvelous scorer (not a typo). As a Raptor, Gay was using an insane 31 percent of Raptors possessions (a mark higher than Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, and LeBron James); he was easily on pace to set his career high in that category. Coincidentally or not, Gay was also on pace to bottom out in a lot of efficiency measures.

Most importantly for our purposes, is this:

Despite his increased efficiency, Gay is still not worth $17.89 million per year. This is not his fault […] Players don’t build rosters, they don’t write the contracts, and they don’t design the offenses. Rudy Gay, the player, has been traded two times in the last year. But it’s perhaps more accurate to say that Rudy Gay, the contract, has been off-loaded twice.

Rudy Gay was — for a time — inefficient and not worth the contract he was being paid. That said, he declined something to the tune of $14 million for an two-year MLE in SA for a total of $17 million. As Kirk Goldsberry wrote, Rudy Gay is better when he is not taking so many shots.

That is likely what the Spurs saw in him in his Sacramento career. He was taking about 15 shots a game and making good use of those. The Spurs will not ask him to change much of his game offensively:

Next to Boogie as a clear-cut No. 2 option for a season and a half, Rudy Gay finally found the best possible version of his game.

During that season and a half, in games in which Gay played, the Kings went 46-77 for a winning percentage of .374. The best possible version of Rudy Gay was the No. 2 scorer for the equivalent of a 30-win team.

This is the problem with Rudy Gay: He is a scorer only, and an old-school, mid-range scorer at that. He’s not in any sense a point-forward, he’s not an elite defender, and he’s not a dead-eye shooter. If he is your No. 2 scorer and you don’t have a world-class team defense, your team is going to stink. If he’s your second-best player overall, you are in a world of hurt.

Hurm. We can inelegantly put his 18-per ahead of LaMarcus’ 17-per and that would, in fact, make him the Spurs’ second-leading scorer with a world-class team defense behind him. So that’s good, right?

We hope so. The lineup is still in flux, with LaMarcus likely still on the trade block and Pau, Simmons, Manu still unsigned. If the roster consists largely of the previous incarnation but with Gay in place, that is doable. This does likely mean Dedmon will not return.

This makes the Spurs more versatile offensively. Rudy Gay can carry the load offensively for stretches while Kawhi sits. Imagine those dry spells trying to force the ball into an off LaMarcus being Rudy Time, where he is free to get buckets. The Spurs have had a tough time scoring against the Warriors in the Kerr era and despite what we saw in the first three quarters of the WCF Game 1 matchup, the struggle-fest is more likely than not. Getting Gay is a nod toward solving those problems and untying the Spurs from LaMarcus Aldridge as second-option.

Given that he is a veteran looking to win, he will do the things required. That is to say he will buy in defensively. Even if he is a poor individual defender, as long as he can execute the game plan he will be useful. For historical reference, simply look at Pau Gasol who was instrumental shutting down the Rockets.

Welcome Rudy Gay. You are a Spur now.


More Reading:

[Grantland]

[SBNATION]

[BBall Breakdown]

_Image via evs

Summer League Dreams 17: Forbes-ing

Bryn Forbes has always been very intriguing. He is a sharpshooter in a relative slump for the year. He has not had a memorable Spurs-moment and is not the shooter of the future the average fan thinks of — that would be Davis Bertans. Forbes has managed to hang around the organization for the season, which indicates the staff like what he can brings.

That was the stage for tonight’s performance where Bryn looked like the guy from Baylor. He torched the net and displayed some dribble-drive scoring ability — is it me or does he have a little of Derrick Rose-style wide steps?

While Dejounte Murray was not particularly impressive, he attacked the middle of the floor and found shooters. This is not a bad way to play. (Please know I write that knowingly). Blossomgame and White look solid, and Davis Bertans helped carry the load as we expected. We did not see too much off-the-bounce game from him as he predicted, but more of the same long-range bombing that we expected.

More as the summer league continues.

Summer League 2017

Last season Dejounte Murray was interesting. This season he is the old veteran and Derrick White is going to be the intriguing freshman. The Spurs released the Utah Summer League Roster this week.

Via Spurs.com:

Some observations

  • Murray is younger than Derrick White
  • So many 90s babies
  • Bertans, Forbes, Murray are the players to watch. Simmons balled out in two straight summer leagues and now is getting paid.
  • Another go ’round for Livio-Jean Charles
  • Will Hardy alone coaching. :(.

FREE AGENCY

Patty Mills re-signed.

Jonathan Simmons is going to date around before he commits, and given his origins that is good. Let him go and see what the market will pay for his services and if the Spurs will match it.

Given the lack of offers for LaMarcus Aldridge and the strange trades (Paul George to OKC for nothing, Jimmy Butler to Minny for nothing, CP3 to Houston for consolation prizes) there is no obvious move that makes the Spurs significantly better. In fact, coming back with the same team keeps the Spurs’ institutional advantage that other teams mixing in new players lack.

The looming Warriors Question is unanswerable. No move outside of signing LeBron James makes any team serious contenders for dethroning Golden State. Andre Igoudala taking a peek at offers is the first crack in the dynasty-in-progress and injuries, random occurrences, and the disease of more can always happen.

LaMarcus Aldridge being anything less than 100% committed to the team is an issue, but there is no move to make at the moment. And so we wait.