|Never change Spurs. No seriously, you're never going to change. (Getty Images)|
I. How they finished 2012: By losing four straight games. Which came after winning 20 straight.
The Spurs evolved into some kind of unstoppable machine by the end of last season, running over any team in their way. They won 10 straight games to finish the regular season -- by an average of almost 20 points a game -- then swept through their opening two playoff series without breaking a sweat.
And after they opened 2-0 on the Thunder in the Western Conference finals, the questions were about if the Spurs would ever lose a game again, not if Oklahoma City could come back.
But the Thunder obliterated San Antonio in Game 3, got a virtuouso fourth quarter performance from Kevin Durant in Game 4, stunned the Spurs in San Antonio in Game 5 and finished things off back in OKC in Game 6. It's still hard to process it happened so fast and so stunningly.
II. Needs entering the offseason: Really, I'm almost stumped. Because what do the Spurs need? On the surface, nothing. They've got an elite point guard, they've got a brilliant shooting guard. They've got a young, talented small forward. They've got maybe the greatest 4 of all time. And though their center isn't ideal, he fits the plan perfectly. The bench is strong, they've got shooters all over and everyone understands their role.
But what got the Spurs beat against the Thunder wasn't their advanced age, but their lack of versatility. They couldn't adjust to OKC's lineups, couldn't keep pace with all the different combinations. The Spurs can go small with Duncan at center, but they lack the kind of personnell that allows them to continue to defend when that happens.
Because against OKC, that was the problem: The Spurs couldn't stop the Thunder. With Boris Diaw an Tiago Splitter as the two centers on the roster, something big inside to seal the paint could help. And maybe another big versatile wing defender to go with Stephen Jackson and Kawhi Leonard.
III. The Draft: Uneventful is the word here. The Spurs didn't have a first round pick as they dealt it to the Warriors in the Jackson-Richard Jefferson trade.
They had one pick -- the 59th overall -- in the draft and spent it on Marcus Denmon. It's no guarantee he'll make the final roster, but if he does, you can be sure he'll plug right in to Gregg Popovich's system and be hitting corner 3s in no time.
IV. Free Agency: The Spurs basically just tidied up their own house in free agency. They re-signed Tim Duncan to a new deal that essentially ensures he finishes his career in San Antonio. They re-signed marksman Danny Green to a multi-year deal. They re-signed Boris Diaw. They signed 2009 draft pick Nando De Colo to a deal. And they re-signed Patty Mills.
They didn't pursue anyone on the open market and while there's still a chance a player like Andray Blatche could intrigue them (I mean, isn't that the perfect fit for both sides?) the Spurs basically held firm with the team they liked so much last season.
They're a year older, yes, but as they continue to prove, age is just a number. They've evolved from Duncan's team to Ginobili's team to now Parker's team. They have a superstar in Parker, a playmaker in Ginobili and a bedrock inside in Duncan. The Spurs don't have a ton of room to wiggle because there isn't much they truly need. It's just a matter of if what's there is good enough.
V. Overall grade and accomplishments: N/A. I think the right question to ask about the Spurs is, "What offseason?" How can you grade what didn't really happen? It would be unfair to give them a bad mark and it wouldn't be right to give them a good one. They didn't really do anything which makes sense. But it also didn't really improve last year's roster either.
San Antonio's offseason might've been uneventful, but it was effective. You don't mess with someone as well oiled as this.
There are still some questions surrounding DeJuan Blair and his future with the organization. He could be traded soon, maybe in a deal that solidifies the interior a bit more. So maybe, possibly, the Spurs could do something.
For now though, the Spurs are banking on their four-game losing streak to OKC being an abberation. An accident, a mistake. They still like their team, like the way it's built and feel like it's good enough to be right back in the mix next season.
And you know what, as is almost always the case, they're probably right. Those Spurs seem to know what they're doing.