DeJuan Blair is too good for the bench.
Unfortunately for the 23-year-old, that's the role he was forced to get accustomed to in San Antonio during the 2011-12 NBA season.
After averaging 23.8 minutes per game in December, Blair's minutes decreased every month until he finally racked up just 76 total minutes (7.6 per game) in the postseason.
With things unlikely to get better in the foreseeable future for the former Pittsburgh star, it sounds like a trade is inevitable, even though he has stated his desire to stay with the Spurs (via Pittsburgh Post Gazette):
"Hopefully, I stay a Spur, but if it doesn't happen, life moves on," Blair said. "They've got me on the trade market and they'll do the best to get me in the greatest situation possible."
That would be, without a doubt, the best possible move for all parties involved. Let's take a look why.
Why It's Best for the Spurs
Simply put, they don't need him.
Blair lost playing time as the season dwindled down last year not because of his talent level, but because of the talent level of those around him.
Tim Duncan, who just signed a three-year deal, is the obvious incumbent at one of the frontcourt spots. Other bigs getting time over Blair include Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter and even Matt Bonner, who, as a big man who can shoot, fits San Antonio's style perfectly.
Throw in center Erazem Lorbeck, who Blair believes the Spurs will bring in from overseas, and that's a lot of big men. Greg Popovich famously likes to spread out the minutes, but if Blair also comes back, that's six big men competing for time, which would be the definition of overkill.
Blair is set to become a restricted free agent in the summer, and with his skill level, he will unquestionably be given a decent offer sheet. With the Spurs' frontcourt depth, there's almost no chance they will match.
Should they trade him now, they can at least get something of value in return for their young power forward.
Why It's Best for DeJuan Blair
Blair loves San Antonio, but as he noted, this game is a business. Leaving the team that took a chance on him and developed him into a solid player is tough, but it's the best way for him to develop his talent.
The 6'7" Team USA Select Team member is much better than people realize.
In three seasons in the NBA, Blair, while avoiding the injury bug that most teams thought would hit him, has averaged 15.1 points and 11.3 rebounds per 36 minutes. In 2010-11, he established himself as the best offensive rebounder in the league, as he led the entire NBA in OR%.
Blair may be a tweener, but we are entering a time in the NBA when tweeners' height doesn't matter as much. The talented forward has lost some weight and he has the motor to be a consistent double-double threat.
If that's only worth seven minutes per game in the NBA, I don't know what to think anymore.
Blair, who has consistently been productive but has never tried to restructure his minuscule contract, deserves a chance to earn himself some hefty wages. He won't be able to do that buried on the bench in San Antonio.