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OutletPass
06-16-2003, 10:45 AM
What's next for the Spurs, Nets?
By Chad Ford
NBA Insider
Send an Email to Chad Ford Monday, June 16
Updated: June 16
10:22 AM ET


For those of you who are just relieved that this year's NBA champions aren't wearing purple and gold, I have some good news and some bad news for you.


The good news? Get used to it. The Lakers no longer have the ring, the best player on the planet or a monopoly on all of that "peat" crap. Tim Duncan's dominating performance in the playoffs, capped by a near quadruple-double in Game 6, means that the Spurs are going to keep rolling as long as Duncan does.

The bad news? With a little over $14 million to play with in cap room this summer, the Spurs haven't even begun to play their best basketball. How often can you say that about a newly crowned champion?

The Spurs are straddling the best of both worlds right now. They're winning it all with a group of relatively young, inexperienced players. They'll lose only one major contributor, David Robinson, from this year's title run. Tony Parker, Emanuel Ginobili, Malik Rose and Bruce Bowen will all be back next year. And they have the cash to make a major, major splash in the free-agent market this summer.

How big? Consider this. Only three other teams -- the Jazz, Nuggets and Clippers -- are looking at max cap room this summer. If you're a top free agent, where would you like to play next year?

Utah is a pretty good destination, but chances are the Jazz will use the majority of their money on Clippers free agent Andre Miller. The Nuggets have a bright future, but they're still years away from being a championship contender. The Clippers? Please.

That means that nothing really happens this summer with anyone else until the Spurs leave the bar with whoever they want. One girl, two girls? Just depends on what turns you on . . .

Scenario 1: Sign Jason Kidd
The pros: Tony Parker still has a bright, bright future, but his inexperience was pretty glaring, especially in Game 6. Kidd is the best point guard on the planet. If the Spurs sign him, use Parker as trade bait (his value is still very high), re-sign Stephen Jackson and bring in another top-flight free agent (Karl Malone, Juwan Howard or P.J. Brown would work) with the mid-level exception, the Spurs can start printing the repeat shirts.
The cons: Parker struggled at times, but considering he just turned 21 years old, why bail on him now? The Spurs still won the title, despite Parker's inconsistent play. Bring in a veteran to back him up and use the money to replace the Admiral.

Scenario 2: Sign Jermaine O'Neal
The pros: The Spurs need another athletic presence in the paint now that Robinson is retiring. O'Neal is the best on the market. He's young, blocks shots, can play the four and the five and would give the Spurs the best front line in the NBA.
The cons: It won't be easy luring O'Neal away from Indiana. He likes it there and has become the man in Indiana. Would he be willing to play second fiddle in San Antonio to Duncan? Is he really ready to go head-to-head with the likes of Kevin Garnett, Chris Webber, Rasheed Wallace, Amare Stoudemire and Karl Malone every night?

Scenario 3: Sign Elton Brand
The pros: Brand fits the Spurs' profile. He's consistent, one of the nicest guys in the NBA, a blue collar worker in the paint and is willing to put his ego aside to win a championship. While he doesn't quite have the upside of O'Neal, a Brand and Duncan front line would still give the Spurs the best in the league.
The cons: Brand is a restricted free-agent. If the Clips decided to match (they have to pay somebody to make the minimum payroll in the league next year) the Spurs could end up well behind the curve. As solid as Brand is, would the Spurs be better off splitting the money between two free agents?

Scenario 4: Sign Michael Olowokandi and Corey Maggette
The pros: Duncan is the man. Parker has the makings of a worthy side kick. Why not bring in a couple of complementary players to boost the depth of the team? Olowokandi is no David Robinson, but he can be a physical presence in the paint. The Spurs don't need him to average 20 and 10 a night. Twelve and eight would do just fine. As for Maggette, he's on the verge of blowing up. The Spurs could really use another great athlete who can do it all on both ends of the court.
The cons: Maggette is a restricted free agent and the Clips could match a deal. The Nuggets could try to lure away Olowokandi and Maggette by offering them more money. Adding two big-time players to the mix could affect the team's chemistry.

Scenario 5: Sign Gilbert Arenas and Brad Miller
The pros: Arenas' ability to play the one and two would be a perfect complement to the Spurs' current backcourt of Parker and Emanuel Ginobili. He's a big-time scorer who can find the open man -- that's a great fit if you think about it. With the rest of their money, the Spurs may be better off going after a more dependable center. Miller is tough, can score in the paint and would thrive if Duncan was by his side in the post.
The cons: Would the addition of Arenas stunt Parker's and Ginobili's growth? Will agent Dan Fegan price Arenas out of the Spurs' price range? Will Miller be able to keep up his production against the stiffer competition in the West?

There are obviously more scenarios out there. The Spurs could decide to go the trade route, and attempt to pry away Jerry Stackhouse from Washington or Shareef Abdur-Rahim from Atlanta. Their ability to take on salary without having to give anything back in return could make them major players in the trade market.

Or they could decide to keep things leaner and add a few veteran players like Karl Malone, P.J. Brown, Gary Payton or Alonzo Mourning to smaller, short-term deals. Keeping away from long-term commitments would give the Spurs a lot more flexibility in the summer of 2004 when several potential major free agents like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tracy McGrady hit the free-agent market.

Any way you slice it, it looks like San Antonio will be a spur in the side of everyone in the NBA for years to come.

Tangled in the Nets

The Nets, on the other hand, have to be biting their fingernails after Jason Kidd's cryptic comments after the Nets' crushing Game 6 defeat.

Kidd told ESPN's Stuart Scott after the game that he couldn't say that he'd be a Net next season.

"I can't," he said. "I really can't. The door is open, and I have to play free agency out. I have to look at all my options. . . For us to fall short, it hurts, just like it hurt last year. But we lost to the better team. You've got to give San Antonio a lot of credit. Unfortunately, we just couldn't get over the hump. That has no bearing on what I will decide this summer."

But later, Kidd amended those comments a bit when talking to the press.

"I've got to find a way. ... I play this game to win," he said. "Again, this is my second time coming up short of winning that championship trophy. So I've got to find a team that has a better chance of winning that championship trophy, or stay with the Nets. That's what I play this game for."

Right now, it appears that no one in the East has a better chance or returning to the Finals than the Nets.

They have a nice young core of Kenyon Martin, Richard Jefferson and Jason Collins. Last year's first-round pick, Yugoslavian big man Nenad Krstic, will join the club this summer. They have the No. 22 pick in the draft. And they should be in the competitive mix to add a decent free agent with their mid-level exception.

Why would Kidd leave that? A couple of reasons.

First, a couple of teams in the East, the Pistons and the Pacers, should start catching up. The Pistons add one of the best coaches in the league, the No. 2 pick in the draft and they'll make a strong push at a veteran like Juwan Howard this summer. The Pacers, if they re-sign Jermaine O'Neal and Brad Miller, have more talent than any other team in the East. It's only a matter of time before it all starts coming together.

Second, even if the Nets do make it to the Finals, they'll likely face an improved Spurs team the next few years. If the Nets couldn't beat Tim Duncan and Stephen Jackson, how do they expect to be Duncan and Jermaine O'Neal or Elton Brand?

"I would love to come back year after year, but I don't want to always be a bridesmaid," said Kidd. "We felt we could compete with the West, no matter who came out of there. We felt we could give the Spurs a run for their money. Hopefully this bridesmaid thing will come to an end, even if I do return as a Net."

But are the Spurs the right place for Kidd? While Kidd would love the chance to team up with Duncan, he's worried about the conservative offense coach Gregg Popovich runs in San Antonio. In New Jersey everything runs through Kidd. In San Antonio, everything runs through Duncan. If the two teamed up, something would have to give. Kidd's afraid that it would be his signature up-and-down game that would take the hit.

If Kidd decides that the Spurs aren't a good fit, he doesn't have a lot of great options. Denver, Utah and the Clippers won't put him any closer to a championship. He's not going to sign for the mid-level exception with a contender. He could try to force a sign-and-trade, but would the Nets really play ball?

If Kidd did go the sign-and-trade route, it would be to get him back on the West Coast. The only two teams that would make any sense would be the Warriors and Sonics. However, both teams failed to make the playoffs this season and neither team has enough talent to lure the Nets into that transaction. Even if they did strip mine their roster to get Kidd, wouldn't that defeat the purpose?

If Kidd really wants to win a championship, he's really only got two choices: re-sign with the Nets and hope that Martin, Jefferson and Krstic continue to develop or swallow his pride, sign with the Spurs and ride Duncan's coattails into the sunset.

jayC
06-16-2003, 04:46 PM
Thats depressing!

Fidel
06-16-2003, 09:23 PM
Posted this elsewhere allready but I think it fits this thread too (yeah recyling):

I really really hope the Spurs somehow manage to blow their offseason opportunities (very unlikely though). Unlike other people I think the worst they could do is to sign Kidd and and ship Parker. Kidd would be a very nice addition no doubt, but he just isnīt a reliable scorer. Plus if they do sign Kidd theyīd have trouble signing an adequate replacement for D-Rob.

If they simply keep Parker, Ginobili, Bowen, Rose and Duncan around and do sign someone like JO or Brand
they will be allmost unstoppable. The only team that might have a chance to challange them in this case are the Lakers, if Shaq really works out in the offseason. The Mavs would have to rebuild around Dirk IMO if the second scenario goes down. I really donīt see how we could counter a Duncan/OīNeal frontline with the way our team is currently structured.

MavKikiNYC
06-16-2003, 09:49 PM
I agree, Fidel.

Mavs have to make at least one significant move toward improvement this year. They absolutely cannot afford to stand pat.

Chiwas
06-16-2003, 10:01 PM
Why is Juwan Howard so overrated?

jayC
06-16-2003, 10:39 PM
Howard is only overrated at 25 million. I might counter with rasheed wallace? fin for rasheed. or not.