Monthly Archives: February 2013
The more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s another NBA season, and somehow in the year 2013 the San Antonio Spurs are one of the top teams in the league. “Experts” have been trying to bury the Spurs since their 2007 title, yet the Spurs keep on trucking. The Spurs have the best record in the West, and after their beat down of the Clippers, are now even the darling of ESPN. The media is done trying to dismiss the Spurs, and have finally accepted what south Texas already knows, The Spurs will not die.
The main reason the Spurs were supposed to be done competing at a high level was age. The Spurs were always known as the old team, so everybody figured they’d get too old real fast and would stop dominating the western conference. Yes, Duncan and Manu have aged, and are no longer the mega stars the once were. The Spurs saw this coming, so they’ve quietly assembled some young pieces around them, guys like Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter and Gary Neal. Kawhi was a high draft pick, well high for the Spurs, acquired after trading fan favorite backup point guard George Hill. At the time it was a very unpopular trade, but now Spurs fans are loving Kawhi, and he is seen as the future robin to Tony Parker’s Batman.
Speaking of Tony Parker, the fact that he’s developed into a legit top 5 player in the NBA has helped the transition into the new decade. As Duncan and Manu got older, Parker got better. Tony Parker gladly accepted the role as leader of the team, and has elevated his game and this franchise to the top. When people talk about the Spurs great coach, they think of coach Pop and his long relationship with Tim Duncan. In my opinion, coach Pop’s legacy should truly be measured on how he made an undersized 18 year old from France into a league MVP candidate, and 3 time NBA Champion point guard.
Which leaves me to my last point, the rock that holds this franchise together, the architect of the best sports franchise of the last 15 years, coach Pop. Pop is the Tom Landry of the NBA, building a franchise to consistent greatness, by not being afraid to be innovative, and doing what he believes is best for his team. Pop has gone to war with David Stern, coached the Western Conference all star team, and has built enough depth to never miss a beat. If you want to know why the Spurs won’t die, Pop is the number 1 reason why the old, boring Spurs are still going deep in the playoffs, and poor America has to sit through a ton of Spurs playoff games, as Charles Barkley screams GINOOOOOBILI.
The Mavs, like many other NBA teams, decided to stick with what they have instead of making a trade. Now, the Mavs don’t feel they don’t need any more personnel to make a run at another title, it’s just that the Mavs have basically called this season a wash. They’ll never admit it, but after striking out with Derron Williams this past offseason, the Mavs decided to wait until Dwight Howard hit the market. Now Dwight was traded to the Lakers before the start of the season, and logic would indicate that the Lakers trading for Howard ended the D12 sweepstakes. Then, something great happened (if you’re a mavs fan or lakers hater), the Lakers ended up having a terrible 1st half of the season. The team of Kobe, Nash, and Howard has been such a disaster that Howard staying in LA doesn’t seem like a slam dunk anymore.
Lakers took a big gamble trading for Howard, knowing he only had 1 year left on his contract, and knowing he publicly stated he didn’t want to play for the Lakers. The Lakers hoped his attitude would change, and winning with Kobe in Hollywood would make Dwight fall in love. Well, the Lakers worst nightmare is occurring, Dwight and Kobe don’t seem to get along, and the Lakers aren’t even a playoff team as of today.
All this is good news for 3 NBA teams, the Rockets, Hawks, and Mavs. These are the 3 teams with enough cap space to sign Howard, if he chooses to leave LA. Now the big challenge will be for the Mavs to convince Howard to come to Big D. The Hawks and the Rockets have more young talent to surround Howard with, so the sell will be a tough one for Mark Cuban. But the Mavs can sell 1 thing, and that is recent success. The Mavs have been one of the top franchises in Basketball for the last 10 years, and Cuban has shown a willingness to do what it takes to get back on top. It won’t be easy, but never count out Cuban, he struck out this past offseason, and will be ready to redeem himself.
Now all the Mavs have to do is sit back, hope the Lakers continue to implode, and get ready to go all in on D12. Cuban might want to skip Shark Tank this time around, because if the Mavs miss out on Howard, it might spell the end of the Dirk era of competing for titles.
The NBA trade deadline is Thursday, and the rumors are in full effect. The Spurs currently sit atop the Western Conference, but the rumors are rampant with the Spurs trading for a big man. Josh Smith and Al Jefferson are the two rumored targets, even though there has been no real talk from the Spurs about even shopping around. Chances are the Spurs will run with the roster they have, since it has served them well this season, and hope for the best. The Spurs are the deepest team in the NBA, with Tony Parker and Tim Duncan playing at an all star level. Last season the Spurs lost in the Western Conference Finals, and feel this team is improved enough to get over the hump. Tiago Splitter has emerged as a solid starter, Kawhi Leonard is much improved, and the Spurs (so far) have stayed healthy. Looks great for the Spurs, but I feel they should take a risk, and make a trade.
Like it or not, the NBA is a star driven league. The Miami Heat are the favorites to win it all, and it’s because they have the best player in the league, along with Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. And if that’s not enough star power, the Heat also added Ray Allen, just in case. Now the Spurs do have two all stars, as mentioned above, but another near all star would really put this team over the top. Adding Al Jefferson or Josh Smith gives the Spurs the best frontcourt in the NBA, and probably adds a few years to Tim Duncan’s career. A trio of Parker, Duncan, and Jefferson/Smith would be able to withstand the onslaught of the Durant/Westbrook and the Heat’s super friends. The Spurs certainly have the depth to trade for a big piece, with plenty to spare. Giving up an emerging Tiago Splitter, along with 1 or two more pieces should be enough to land a top player.
The question is, do the Spurs need to gamble? Perhaps the deep bench of the Spurs is enough to compliment Parker and Duncan, along with the best coach in all of sports. What if a trade disrupts the locker room and the chemistry that this team has, and the Spurs just aren’t the same without as much depth. Also, most new players don’t get acclimated with Coach Pop’s system until year 2. Would a trade even help the Spurs in 2013? Plenty of people are in the “if it aint broke don’t fix it” boat, and I really do see their point.
Bottom line is this, it has been 6 years since the Spurs last title. This team and franchise has been able to stay towards the top of the league, but they need a boost to get back to the Promised Land. Trading some of that amazing depth is the only way to do so, since top free agents aren’t rushing to live in San Antonio, no matter how good the Tex Mex is. Pulling the trigger now might not guarantee an NBA title this season, but it wouldn’t hurt, and going into next season with 3 legitimate stars would certainly increase their odds in 2013-2014.
The Texas Rangers had what some might call a disastrous off season. The Rangers were thought to be big players this off season, with so much young talent and depth to trade with, and some money to spend. It was even said that nobody at the winter meetings could make a move until the Rangers made theirs. Well, some are still waiting for that move, but not the other MLB teams. Division rival Angels snatched up Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli went to Boston, and the Rangers traded their heart and soul Michael Young to the Phillies. Meanwhile the Rangers made no splash at all in free agency to replace them. The only off season signings were older stop gaps AJ Pierzynski at catcher, and New Braunfels native and Astros great Lance Berkman for the DH spot. And for the icing on what was perceived as a horrible off season, reports out of Miami indicate that Nelson Cruz was juicing up, and might even face a possible suspension. Is the titanic sinking, and will we call the iceberg the 2012-2013 offseason?
The Rangers really don’t think so, and they feel that their in house talent will step up and make another run at a World Series. GM Jon Daniels is either bluffing, hoping for more success next off season, or he really believes in the farm system and young talent he has will put it together. A few names that the Rangers are hoping step up are familiar; some will be new to the big show.
The Rangers are hoping Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz(if not suspended), Elvis Andrus, and Andrian Beltre can be the glue that keeps this once family like clubhouse together. All these players are all star type, but Kinsler and Cruz will need to have bounce back years to keep the Rangers on top. Andrus keeps getting better, and if he can bat around 300 and be dangerous on the bases he could very well be the team MVP. Beltre is a gold glove 3rd baseman, but will he miss Hamilton in the lineup protecting him? Pierzynski and Berkman should help, both solid hitters brought in to bring some pop to the lineup, but they might be past their prime.
As for the young players that hope to make 2013 year of the youth movement, Craig Gentry should get even more playing time, David Murphy will finally be an everyday player, and Mitch Moreland will get the first shot at being the 1st baseman. All are familiar names, but this year is the year they all will start every day, and their production will probably dictate how far the Rangers go this year. Also look for minor league stars Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar to make the roster half way through the season.
The entire pitching staff seems to have something to prove, and until Colby Lewis comes back someone will have to prove worthy of the #5 starter. Yu Darvish will be the Ace, time will tell if he’s worth the title and money. Matt Harrison is coming off a great season, can he put back to back solid years together? Texas is also banking on Derek Holland having a bounce back season, and become the stud left hander that won a World Series game in 2011. Alexi Ogando is back in the rotation, and it seems he’s here to stay. The #5 spot in the rotation is up for grabs, and will be a huge storyline going into spring training.
These Rangers might be the most interesting team in baseball, they’ll either continue their success, and look to be ready to contend for years to come, or they’ll look like the big losers of the offseason looking to pick up the shattered pieces of a once top team.