The San Antonio Spurs had a busy offseason as they landed some of the biggest names in NBA history in this year’s Free Agency. The Spurs had their worst regular season performance since 2009/10 with a 55-27 record, which was made even worse by their first-round exit from the playoffs.
Online Betting: Does San Antonio’s Great Free Agency Warranty a Western Title?
Entering the offseason, there was even more bad news awaiting Spurs fans. San Antonio faced the possibility of losing Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan (who were to retire) while Danny Green was to leave via free agency, hence no free agent would have been interested to be part of the team’s rebuilding process. More to this, Coach Gregg Popovich was also meant to retire, while the team’s young star Kawhi Leonard, a restricted free agent, could have also signed elsewhere.
But to everyone surprise, the Spurs retained the services of Popovich, before going on to retain all the above-mentioned players. And as if that was not enough, they raided this year’s free agency market harder than anyone expected, not only keeping themselves relevant for the 2015-16 NBA title chase, but also boosting their online betting odds to win it all, climbing ahead of several teams in the Western Conference.
The Spurs Free Agency…as it Was!
Preliminarily, the Spurs fans must first appreciate Popovich, who strategized every move for the team and did more than just get a solid group for the new season. To begin with, Popovich came into terms with Leonard, the 2014/15 defensive player of the year, to remain with the team for the next five seasons. He then followed the $45 million Leonard deal by retaining Green for the next four years, and also getting Duncan (five-time NBA champion, two-time NBA MVP and three-time NBA Finals MVP) to return for his 19th season with the team. Two days after Duncan confirmation, San Antonio landed LaMarcus Aldridge (a four-time NBA All-Star and All-NBA Second Team 2015), perhaps the top free agent on the market. Aldridge is amongst the best power forwards in the league, and will have the opportunity to play alongside Duncan, one of the greatest ever to play the position.
The Spurs did not stop there. They were able to entice David West (New Orleans Pelicans all-time leading scorer, two-time NBA All-Star) to take a huge pay cut and sign to a minimum veteran deal, and soon after, Ginobili (four-time NBA champion and two-time NBA All-Star) confirmed that he would return for another run.
For all the solid moves, the team only lost Aron Baynes, Tiago Splitter, Cory Joseph and Marco Belinelli. There has also been speculation that Patty Mills, who is still under contract through 2016/17, could as well be on the move. Judgingly, the loss of Belinneli (Sacramento Kings), who was one of the team’s best players at creating floor space and shooting threes, and Splitter (who offered some defensive presence at center) are probably the ones that will be tough to deal with. Still, considering the new deals completed by the team this offseason, the cost of losing both players looks manageable.
2015 Competition in the West
The Warriors, the defending national champs, didn’t make any major moves in the offseason, probably in the same way the Oklahoma City, New Orleans Pelicans didn’t make many changes. Of that group, the Warriors, who will line up almost every core athlete who contributed to their 2014/15 success, with the exception of David Lee who was unloaded to Celtics in exchange for Gerald Wallace (NBA All-Star 2010), will be toughest to beat. Meanwhile OKC and the Trail Blazers look to be tough to bear, like they were in 2014, but that doesn’t mean San Antonio doesn’t have enough depth to stick it to them.
The Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets were busier in the West and they both seem ready to vault up the standings this year, but if the Spurs can gel properly in time for the playoffs, taking care of both teams should be possible. As thing stand, the Spurs have enough depth to face (and beat) any team in the West and East, no wander they are among the favorites in the odds to win the 2016 NBA Championship. However, it all remains to be seen if the talented San Antonio team is simply good on paper or on the field as well.