Flash back to February, when phone lines were buzzing and NBA fire sales were in full swing. The Suns picked up a three-time Finals MVP (
The Spurs? While the rest of the Western Conference was shopping on Rodeo Drive, San Antonio was perusing the clearance rack at Macy's. The defending champions loaded up for the postseason by signing a 34-year-old backup point guard (
"If we were going to make a trade of that magnitude," Spurs president and coach
The Spurs' five-game dismantling at the hands of the Finals-bound Lakers notwithstanding, it's fair to say that Popovich's attitude of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" has merit. San Antonio has been the class of the NBA for the past decade, compiling the best winning percentage in the league during that span and winning four championships. As
Granted, winning is a lot easier when you have a superstar like Duncan ("Tim makes all of our jobs easier," general manager
If you think finding that kind of talent is easy, consider the situation in Miami. The Heat won it all in 2006, but finished the 2007-2008 season with the worst record in the league, in no small part because recent draft picks (
"We try to do our work early and prepare for down the road," Popovich said. "Thinking out of the box while you're doing well is important."
And make no mistake, San Antonio will continue to do well, with help waiting in the wings. Power forward
"Mahinmi has the potential to be an All-Star," an Eastern Conference executive said. "He needs to get a little stronger, but he has the skill set to play inside and outside. I can see him being a very good player on a contending team."
Splitter may require a little patience: He is reportedly leaning toward signing a two-year extension with his Spanish team.
If you're looking for a chink in the armor, there is a small dent forming at the wing positions, where the Spurs have a trio of thirtysomethings (
"We really need to find guys on the perimeter," Popovich said. "We talk about it all the time. It's something of a special emphasis right now."
With the season now over, the Spurs will look to address that need in the draft, where they will have a first- and two second-round picks. Expect at least one of those selections to be spent on an unheralded international player. And expect, at some point, for that player to be a contributor.