The Spurs announced a shocker today, trading G/F Brent Barry and C Francisco Elson along with a 2009 draft pick for veteran F/C Kurt Thomas of the Sonics.
Barry was with the Spurs for the 2005 and 2007 championships, and Elson also played a role on the 2007 championship team.
Thomas is known for his tough, gritty play and should be able to provide some help on the boards for Tim Duncan. Thomas has also played for Dallas, Phoenix, Miami, and the Knicks.
Although many sources have been citing Thomas' "playoff experience," he does not have a championship ring. The closest he came was in the strike-shortened 1999 finals when Thomas and the Knicks fell to the Spurs in the first of their four championship runs over the last nine years.
Thomas had his best offensive years with the Knicks, averaging in double digits in scoring over his last five seasons in New York. His offense has declined since then, but his main value to the Spurs will be his rebounding. At 8.8 per game this year, Thomas is in the midst of his best rebounding season since leaving the Knicks.
The 2007-2008 Spurs will likely not miss Elson very much.
He has only started three games at center for them, with Fabricio Oberto or Robert Horry getting the nod for most of the season. He was only contributing 3.5 points per game and, more disappointingly, 3.3 rebounds per game.
Last year, Elson had established career highs in points, rebounds, and blocks per game, while making 41 regular season starts for the eventual champions.
Thomas should provide an upgrade on the boards and his 6'9", 235-pound frame should be limber enough to get up and down the floor when competing against run-and-gun teams like Dallas and Phoenix, while also being beefy enough to hold his own in the paint, especially when the Spurs take on the Suns with a healthy Shaquille O'Neal.
The inclusion of Brent Barry in the trade may sadden some Spur fans.
Known for his outside shooting, Barry would often come in and provide a spark off the bench, especially when Michael Finley was unable to find his stroke or Manu Ginobili was banged up. Being able to sub at the small forward position was important, as Barry could provide some offensive prowess behind defensive-minded starter Bruce Bowen.
Barry's main downfall, besides his age and current injury problems, was mainly the depth that the Spurs have at the small forward and shooting guard positions. Sitting behind Bowen, Ginobili, and Finley on the depth chart for two seasons sometimes meant little playing time for Brent. In addition, with the off-season acquisition of swing-man Ime Udoka, Barry had yet another player in the rotation eating away at his minutes.
Barry's inclusion in the deal may also seem curious from the Sonic fan's point of view, as the team is going nowhere fast and seems to be favoring up-tempo, young players rather than veteran shooters. It would not be surprising to see Barry in a uniform other than that of the Sonics by the end of the season.
Was this trade by the Spurs a knee-jerk reaction to the Mavs deal for Kidd, the Lakers deal for Gasol, and the Suns deal for Shaq? Or was this another great front office move by the Spurs, trading two spare parts and one likely to be useless part (the 2009 draft pick) for a potential cog in their championship machine?
Spurs ball. Spuuuuurs ball!