2nd Round-Isaiah Canaan
Point Guard from Murray State
Rockets are hoping they scored a suitable back up for Jeremy Lin. Canaan is a point guard who can score off the dribble, and create for others. The big score for the Rockets should be in free agency, where they’ll go to war with cross state rival Dallas for Dwight Howard.
The heartbreak of the NBA Finals loss to the Miami Heat will burn for awhile in the River City, and from the sound of Tim Duncan in his post game press conference it might burn the rest of his life. America finally learned to love the Spurs, but most “experts” feel this was their last real shot at an NBA title. What everybody should remember though is that every year that the Spurs are eliminated from the playoffs, the same talk of the Spurs being done comes out. Fact of the matter is these Spurs aren’t going anywhere, whether you love them or hate them.
Tim Duncan is 37 years old, and only has 1 year left on his contract. Duncan was 2nd team all NBA this past season, and looks poised for at least 1 more season. Tony Parker just turned 31, and is in the prime of his career. Parker is the best point guard in the world, and as long as he’s on the floor the Spurs will contend. The big question mark with the big 3 is clearly Manu Ginobili. Manu is an old 36, and looked bad in the NBA Finals. Manu didn’t contribute much this post season, and is a free agent. If Manu wants to return, the Spurs might feel like they owe him that opportunity.
After the big 3, the Spurs look in good shape. Kawhi Leonard looks to be the young star the Spurs can build around, flexible enough to play the swing or power forward spot, and he just went toe to toe with Lebron and didn’t flinch. Danny Green emerged in this year’s playoffs, especially in the Finals. With those two in the starting lineup, Parker has some running mates after Tim and Manu are gone. As for Manu, his 14 million a year comes off the books this summer, and the Spurs could use that money to land a successor to Tim Duncan. Al Jefferson is a free agent, and if the Spurs let Manu and Tiago Splitter go, the Spurs can afford Jefferson. If Jefferson doesn’t come to San Antonio, then the Spurs will have to spend a little money keeping Tiago on the roster. Besides landing a free agent or two, the Spurs will hope some young players on their bench develop. Nando de Colo showed a lot of promise in his rookie season, but not enough to get any real playing time so his development from year 1 to 2 should be interesting. Corey Joseph took a huge step forward in year 2, went from the Austin Toros to the legit backup point guard in the playoffs. Coach Pop didn’t trust him in the Finals, but with Manu possibly gone Joseph should get more responsibility.
While the rest of the country foolishly writes the Spurs off again, just remember that great franchises like the Spurs don’t rebuild, they reload.
The Spurs have played 102 games, and after all of that the season and championship comes down to 1 game. A Game 7 is special, there is nothing like it, and for the Spurs they hope this particular Game 7 erases the memory of a horrifying Game 6. As you all know by now, the Spurs missed a golden opportunity to win their 5th NBA title by blowing a 5 point lead with 20 seconds left. Tony Parker looked gassed, Duncan might be hurt, and Manu just played awful. Coach Pop, the best coach in pro sports was even questioned for his decisions in that final minute of the 4th quarter. Long story short, the Spurs are a wounded animal and most of America feels they’ve already lost the title.
And this is exactly why Spurs fans should feel confident. Nothing is more dangerous than a wounded animal, and do you really think Pop and the Spurs have another break down? You don’t’ think the Spurs have thought about Game 6 the last two nights? These Spurs, maybe more so than any team in any sport, are a tough, family oriented team that will rally together with a me against the world mentality. I fully expect the Spurs big 3 to play with everything they have, and for coach Pop to have his boys ready for the game of their lives.
It won’t be easy, Lebron has been lights out in Game 7’s, and the Heat fans will be looking to prove they aren’t a bunch of bandwagon fans that leave early when the going gets tough. Chris Bosh has already lit a fire under the fan base, telling them to stay home if they don’t want to stay until the end. The problem with the Heat though is that they only seem to be motivated after a loss, and might ride into this Game 7 thinking the Spurs are mentally beaten already. If that is the case, they’re making a terrible mistake, because the Spurs are never mentally beaten. Manu will bounce back from his Tony Romo like performance, Timmy will have 1 more monster game left in his old body, Danny Green will continue his Robert Horry impression, and Tony Parker will suck it up for 1 more game.
Game 7, the end all be all of sporting events is upon us, and is there any team in the world you think would be better in a 1 game setting than Coach Pop’s Spurs?
Manu Ginobili has always been a folk hero in San Antonio, easily the most popular of the Spurs big 3. His reckless style, crazy passes, and his Spanish have all endeared him to the Alamo city. The number 20 will be retired one day, and hung next to the championship banners above the court in the at&t center. With all that said, sports fans are a “what have you done for me lately” group of people and Manu hasn’t performed well in the 2013 NBA Finals. I wrote before the Finals started that Manu would be the x factor in this series, and end up the Finals MVP. Through 4 games, Manu made me look really foolish, as he looked every bit the broken down player he probably should be after such a long career as a wrecking ball on the court.
Many Spurs fans and media wondered if Manu’s days as an effective NBA player were over. Maybe Manu had nothing left in the tank, and the Big 3 were now the Big 2. With Danny Green and Gary Neal emerging in this series, maybe it was time for Manu to give up his minutes to these young sharp shooters.
Anybody that has followed Manu’s career knows that he always answers the bell. One of the most endearing things about Manu is that every time he made a mistake, or looked very bad on the court, he always came back stronger than ever. Whether he made a bad pass, then came down the court and got a steal, or took a bad shot, but followed it up with a drive to the hoop very few players could do. Game 5 of the Finals was perhaps Manu’s best bounce back of his career. Manu hit the 1st shot of the game, and continued to prove he was still a star in this league, sparking the home crowd and his Spurs to victory. Ginobili ended the game with 24 points, 2 rebounds, and 10 assists. This was the Ginobili that the Spurs and their fans were waiting for, and once again Manu delivered.
Time will tell if Manu can duplicate his game 5 heroics again, if he has enough left in the tank to carry the Spurs to their 5th NBA title. Perhaps Manu is done as a player, and Game 5 was just the last gasp of air for one of the all time greats. Either way, 10 years from now when Spurs fans talk about the greatness that was Manu, they’ll talk about his game 5 performance as just another time he answered the bell, and in typical Manu fashion he made you a believer again.