PAYING FOR PROGRESS
San Antonio Spurs majority owner Peter Holt made a conscience decision when his franchise was eliminated from the 2008 NBA Playoffs, to get his team back to the playoffs, no matter the cost. Mr. Holt wasn't lying. The Spurs, now well over $10 million over the salary cap, have retooled and doled out the cash, something rarely done in small-market San Antonio.
Not only will Peter Holt pay his players, he will have to pay a dollar for every dollar over the salary cap of $69.9 million. Again, in small-market San Antonio, this is a pretty big deal.
THINK BACK SPURS FANS
Think back to the hungriness of the 2002-03 season. Think back to a time when the pocketbooks opened again and a fresh set of veteran players appeared.
Players like Stephen Jackson, Danny Ferry, Bruce Bowen, Steve Kerr and Steve Smith. Think back to another season of change, when another draftee of change appeared on the Spurs roster.
Then, it was a smallish guard out of Argentina by the name of Manu Ginobili. Now, it's a freakish man-child named Dejuan Blair. He comes with a seven-foot wingspan and the ability to rebound like another former Spurs enforcer, Dennis Rodman.
While Rodman was no doubt a wonder as a basketball player (at one point he used to avg. 9.8 ppg and 18.7 rpg), he was a menace to the team as a whole. For the Spurs now, there is no worry whatsoever that Blair will be such a locker room distraction. There is, however, a high hope that he will live up to expectations, both his own and the Spurs.
With the offseason acquisition of former Milwaukee Bucks swing-man Richard Jefferson, former All-Star forward Antonio McDyess and center Theo Ratliff, the Spurs ability to mesh young players with tested veterans has never been more apparent.
The draft picks of not only Blair but also (targeted) Miami Hurricanes star shooting guard Jack McClinton (who finished his college career as the third leading scorer in the ACC where he averaged 19.4 ppg and repeated first team All-ACC Honors), and another obscure French point guard in Nando de Cola have put the Spurs in position to again contend for an NBA title, much like the 2002-03 season.
Think back then to 2003, when former All Star and NBA Top-50 Player David Robinson announced that the season would indeed be his last. Think back to the emphasis it put on the team to perform for its star.
Think now in present terms and the need for Duncan to get another title and the hunger for a team to perform for its star player. Duncan is one of those guys you want to win for, which is how the Spurs organization runs. It's how it ran back then and it's how it runs now, a smooth operator in the mad NBA world.
While the injury to Tony Parker in the recent games with his National Team, France, hasn't been talked about much by the Spurs, you can rest assured that Coach Popovich has demanded that his point guard not play the rest of the offseason.
I'm sure that a order from the top is soon to come limiting the activities of its players in the offseason. As Parker returned to the Spurs trainers for treatment, GM R.C. Buford released a statement saying, “We want to thank Tony for returning to San Antonio to allow our medical staff to examine him. It shows his maturity and dedication to the Spurs organization.”
While the Spurs enjoy grabbing talent from overseas, it is clearly evident that the money that an NBA Team pays to its players should come first. If Parker (or any other player in the NBA and Euro-league) were to severely injure himself, not only would he suffer, but every teammate on the Spurs roster would suffer. Pop may have to lay down the law soon.