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Tag:Spurs
Posted on: December 27, 2009 10:02 pm
 

Spotlight on the Spurs

NEW YORK – Gregg Popovich was a lot more cheery after the game Sunday than he was before, when he openly lamented having arrived at the team hotel in Manhattan at nearly 4 a.m. – 14 hours before the Spurs were scheduled to play the Knicks.

“I think any team that can get in the night before a back-to-back and go to bed at 4 or 4:30 in the morning and play at 6 the next day, I think that’s a good thing,” Popovich said, tongue planted firmly in cheek. “I think it puts a good product out on the floor. … It must be something that I don’t understand, because trips like this don’t make sense.”

After the Spurs’ overnight misadventures between Milwaukee and New York – ice, delays, the whole deal – Popovich actually was in a position to feel optimistic about his team for once. After beating the Bucks 112-97 Saturday night, the Spurs finished off the Knicks with an 11-4 run in a 95-88 victory. Popovich called this San Antonio’s most complete effort of the season in consecutive games.

The closing run against the Knicks was fueled by the Big Three: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. But this season has been about, and will continue to be about, the supporting cast that has changed around them. That’s why Popovich isn’t ready to declare the crisis over.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” he said.

The Spurs, architects of four championships on a shoestring budget, finally took the plunge over the luxury tax last offseason. Realizing that their window was closing while the big-spending Lakers were digging in for another dynasty, San Antonio traded for Richard Jefferson and made this season about paying the price to win.

“The landscape has changed,” Popovich said. “We did it as long as we could, and we were great at it – trying to stay under the cap and still compete for championships. A lot of people deserve a lot of credit on the financial and management side. It got to the point where teams got so good and had so many good players. To stay in the hunt, there was a simple question: Do you want to compete for a championship? If you want to, you’ve got to spend the money. And so we did it this year.”

The result has been an inconsistent team trying to find its way, which is news to the Spurs, who have been a model of stability for much of the past decade. With three new starters and with longtime defensive stopper Bruce Bowen retired, the Spurs aren’t necessarily a better team than they were in the pre-luxury tax era. Just different.

How different? Duncan offered this painfully honest assessment.

“We’ve got to figure out the scheme that works for this team,” he said. “It might not be what’s worked for this team in the past.”

A third of the way into the season, the Spurs are 11th in points allowed per game (96.9), 13th in opponent field-goal percentage (.453), and 13th in points allowed per 100 possessions (102.8). Those are ghastly numbers for a San Antonio team that has built a winning culture around defense.

The offense will come. Duncan, who had only 13 points and seven rebounds Sunday night, is on regular-season cruise control with his minutes being monitored as closely as ever. Ginobili, who had six of the Spurs’ final 11 points, played more freely in the past two games than Popovich had seen him all season. Parker, trying to figure out how to integrate Jefferson into the offense while keeping the focus on Duncan, will do whatever it takes to make it work.

The Spurs have won eight of 10, so it’s hard to nitpick. But they’ve been so good for so long, the standards for those watching them are as high as their own. The most encouraging statistic during this 10-game stretch is that San Antonio has allowed 100 points only twice. The most sobering stat: They lost to the only two teams with winning records that they played (Phoenix and Portland.)

“Look at all the other top teams in the league,” Jefferson said. “You look at Boston, they’re trying to integrate Rasheed Wallace. Look at Denver, they pretty much have their core, everybody back. The Lakers are trying to bring in Ron Artest, but they have everyone there. This is one of the few teams, us and Cleveland, that are good teams, but have a lot of new faces that they’re trying to get into the group.”

Popovich was asked before and after the game how long it should take for the Spurs to become the Spurs again – or become whatever it is they’re going to be. Of course, he said, “I have no idea. I don’t even try to figure that out. When it happens, it happens.”

And if it doesn’t, it could be a long time before the Spurs play the luxury tax game again.
Posted on: July 6, 2009 11:07 am
 

'Sheed gets green

Rasheed Wallace intended to spend the weekend contemplating which of the three teams that wanted him to visit with next. By Sunday night, he decided there was no point. 'Sheed wanted to be in green.

"The important thing is that Rasheed felt this was the best fit for him," Wallace's agent, Bill Strickland, said on the phone Monday. "And he decided, 'Let's not waste other people's time.'"

San Antonio, Orlando, and Dallas were hoping Wallace would delay his decision and hear what they had to say. But when Wallace called Strickland Sunday night, he'd already decided that Boston was where he wanted to sign what likely will be the last contract of his career. It's for two years at the mid-level exception of about $5.6 million annually.

The Celtics' star-studded recruiting pitch, spearheaded by Kevin Garnett, certainly paid off. Wallace was sold on being a complementary piece on a star-laden, championship-ready roster, and was wowed by coach Doc Rivers' presentation on how he would fit in.

"He has respect for the organization, likes the players and respects their abilities," Strickland said. "He has a certain affection for and is sort of a kindred spirit with K.G."
Posted on: July 3, 2009 7:23 pm
 

'Sheed receptive to Celts, but will shop

Rasheed Wallace was receptive to the Celtics' All-Star recruiting pitch, but will be listening to other teams before deciding his future, a person with knowledge of the discussions told CBSSports.com.

The pitch Thursday in Detroit, attended by Celtics players, coach Doc Rivers, president Danny Ainge, and managing partner Wyc Grousbeck, impressed Wallace and was termed "very good meeting." Contract parameters were discussed -- it is believed Wallace would get the mid-level for 2-3 years -- but Wallace wants to hear other offers. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Cavaliers have yet to contact Wallace, indicating their lack of interest. San Antonio has expressed interest, and the Orlando Sentinel reported Friday that the Magic have contacted Wallace's agent, Bill Strickland.

Posted on: July 2, 2009 11:49 am
Edited on: July 2, 2009 5:39 pm
 

'Sheed meeting with Celtics (UPDATE)

The Celtics' star-laden recruiting pitch for Rasheed Wallace is occurring Thursday afternoon in Detroit. CBSSports.com has learned that Celtics president Danny Ainge, apparently flanked by his Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce, will court the former Pistons forward in a matter of hours.

Boston is the first team Wallace will meet with as he weighs his free-agent options. The Celtics' contingent had expressed a desire to meet face-to-face with Wallace as soon as the free-agent negotiating period opened at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, but it was decided that the meeting would take place Thursday, a person with knowledge of the situation said. Celtics managing partner Wyc Grousbeck also is believed to be on the trip.

Wallace's camp has heard from eight or nine teams with interest in signing him, but Wallace will narrow the list down based on the teams' chances of making a deep playoff run and how he will fit in. The Celtics, Cavaliers, Spurs, and Lakers certainly fit those criteria and have interest. Houston initially was a team that intrigued Wallace, but that interest has waned with the news that Yao Ming could miss the entire 2009-10 season with a broken foot. Although Denver officials are big fans of Wallace -- GM Mark Warkentien and Wallace were together in Portland -- the Nuggets are not among the teams that have expressed interest.

UPDATE: The Celtics offered Wallace a contract at the anticipated mid-level exception after the three-hour meeting, according to the Boston Globe. The Big Three, Ainge, Grousbeck, and coach Doc Rivers attended the meeting.



Posted on: June 23, 2009 11:13 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2009 6:24 pm
 

T-Wolves are on the clock (UPDATE)

The keys to the draft are now tucked neatly in the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

A flurry of pre-draft trade activity on Tuesday left Minnesota’s new GM, David Kahn, with four first-round picks – including the fifth and sixth – with clear designs on using at least two of them to move as high as needed to snag Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio or UConn center Hasheem Thabeet.

Or both.

The next 10 picks after the Clippers take Blake Griffin are no longer a bore. And if this works out the way Kahn envisions, neither are the Timberwolves.

To recap: Pending league approval, Minnesota has agreed to acquire Washington’s No. 5 overall pick along with Etan Thomas, Oleksiy Pecherov and Darius Songaila for Randy Foye and Mike Miller. With the fifth, sixth, 18th, and 28th picks, Minnesota is far from finished. A person familiar with the team’s plans said Minnesota is loaded for a run at Rubio, the gifted but raw 18-year-old point guard, and Thabeet, the 7-3 shot-blocker who would finally replace Kevin Garnett’s inside presence. “In a perfect world, both,” said the person with knowledge of Minnesota’s master plan.

Either way, this sends shivers through the Sacramento front office, which seemed to be hoping Rubio would be available with the No. 4 pick. Even more so, Kahn appears to have trumped his former boss with the Indiana Pacers, Knicks president Donnie Walsh, who has done a commendable job persuading some rival executives to believe that coach Mike D’Antoni wanted Rubio. But as much as Rubio’s play-making skills could energize D’Antoni’s free-wheeling, pick-and-roll offense, the player the Knicks covet is Davidson’s Stephen Curry, according to a high-level management source with knowledge of the team’s plans. But the Knicks believe they may not be able to land Curry with the eighth pick, as evidenced by their serious talks with Washington about the No. 5 selection – talks that stalled, according to a person familiar with them, when the Wizards balked at taking back Jared Jeffries and his $6.9 million player option for 2010-11.

Minnesota had to give up two proven commodities in Foye and Miller, and the deal came together like a perfect storm because of Washington’s desire to add veterans to its core of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison. The Wizards entertained numerous offers for the fifth pick, even exploring a deal with Phoenix that would’ve yielded Amare Stoudemire. They backed away from that one when the Suns asked for Butler.

In a draft in which team executives see no can’t-miss stars after Griffin, the Wizards didn’t want or need to pay a lottery pick to join a team that management believes is ready to contend now with a veteran roster and experienced coach, Flip Saunders. The trade also accomplished the Wizards’ goals of creating a roster spot and not taking back any salary beyond next season. The impact on Washington’s 2010-11 payroll is a wash.

The day began with a report that the Celtics had engaged in low-level discussions with the Pistons about a blockbuster scenario that would’ve sent Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen to Detroit for a package including Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and Rodney Stuckey. The talks never went anywhere, but sparked league-wide curiosity about Boston management’s level of discontent with Rondo.

The Spurs struck first in what is shaping up to be a frenzied trading period, acquiring Richard Jefferson from Milwaukee for Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Fabricio Oberto. It was a clear sign that the Spurs are determined to make at least one more championship run with their core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. For Milwaukee, acquiring $11.3 million in contracts that expire after next season clears cap space to re-sign promising guard Ramon Sessions.

Oberto was, in turn, sent to Detroit for Amir Johnson as the Pistons continue obliterating their roster in preparation for the 2010 free-agent frenzy. Joe Dumars now has only three players under contract for 2010-11 – Prince, Stuckey, and Arron Affalo. UPDATE: The Pistons plan to buy out Oberto, thus trimming more payroll for next season.

So, welcome to the 2009 NBA draft, a.k.a. the new trade deadline.
Posted on: June 23, 2009 2:04 pm
 

Spurs on verge of acquiring Jefferson from Bucks

The San Antonio Spurs fired the first salvo of what is expected to be a busy trading period Tuesday, agreeing in principle to acquire Richard Jefferson from the Milwaukee Bucks for Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Fabricio Oberto, a person familiar with the trade confirmed to CBSSports.com.

The Spurs reaffirmed their commitment to making at least one more championship run with their core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili by agreeing to add Jefferson, a gifted offensive wing player who gives them another way to break down defenses and play at a pace more conducive to the transition-oriented teams in the Western Conference. The trade is "real, real close" to happening, said the person familiar with the situation, who expected the deal to gain approval from the league office later Tuesday.

Jefferson, who turned 29 on Sunday, has the kind of toughness and championship pedigree around which the Spurs have built their four championship teams in the past 11 seasons. He also has been bothered by chronic ankle injuries, but didn't miss a game in the past two seasons, including his first with Milwaukee in 2008-09 after being acquired for Bobby Simmons and Yi Jianlian. But the trade leaves the Spurs lacking big-man depth, opening the possibility that they have another deal in the works.

The Bucks get $11.3 million in salary-cap relief in 2010 with the expiring contracts of Bowen, Thomas, and Oberto coming off the books after next season. Jefferson is due $29.2 million over the next two seasons.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com