Why the San Antonio Spurs will Not Make 2010 Western Conference Playoffs

Kent CalhounContributor IFebruary 8, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 18:  Head coach Gregg Popovich and Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs talk during a timeout against the New Orleans Hornets at New Orleans Arena on January 18, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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The San Antonio Spurs have made the playoffs 19 of the last 20 years, including all 12 Tim Duncan years beginning in 1997.

The Spurs have only missed the playoffs four times during the last 33 years, but Spurs will not make the 2010 playoffs unless new players are quickly added and current players step it up dramatically. Don't expect it to happen this year! 

When the Spurs do not make 2010 playoffs, it will be due mainly to one man: Gregg Popovich, arguably the NBA’s most over-rated coach in history. San Antonio Spurs are not an NBA Championship contender in 2010, nor will be until Coach Popovich is replaced.

The Spurs have not had a winning cumulative playoff record since 2006; but they have gotten older with marginal new talent added.

Spurs have won 4 NBA Championships. Popovich deserves credit for these stellar accomplishments, yet his poor coaching decisions also cost the Spurs two NBA Championships.

In 2010, Popovich new player selections will prevent the Spurs from reaching the playoffs and winning 53 games.   

Last year, my articles explained why the Spurs would not advance to the Western Conference Finals; they drew a 98 percent negative fan reaction.

When the Spurs began last year’s NBA Championship quest against the Dallas Mavericks, I stated the Spurs season would end in six games. Mavs slaughtered them in five. If the Spurs make it to the playoffs, they will lose again in the first round.

At my daughter’s basketball game this evening, a friend wanted to place a small wager on the Spurs against the Portland Trailblazers.

“The Spurs cannot beat Portland even without the 23 points of Brandon Roy,” I replied. This comment increased his wager.

I pointed out the Trail Blazers didn’t have Roy on the floor Dec. 23 when they beat the Spurs 98-94 in San Antonio. 

I didn’t know the Trail Blazers had contested an exhausting game losing to Utah 118-105 and were playing a back-to-back. It was also the Trail Blazers’ third game in four days.

After I was informed of these facts, I offered to increase the wager stating the Spurs would “probably blow a late 10 point lead” and not score 20 points in the final stanza. My friend declined to increase his bet.

The Spurs have only a 35 percent chance of winning a game against any NBA team with a winning record, and cannot defeat any Western Conference playoff team in a seven-game series. Not one team in 2010!

Popovich is one of the worst judges of an individual player's ability- especially concerning Tim Duncan’s playing time. Pop’s NBA career is built on two pillars: Hall of Fame skills of David Robinson and Tim Duncan. Popovich never wanted Tony Parker either, until Spurs management persuaded him otherwise.

The Spurs torched the Trail Blazers 12 games in a row during the competitive days, which ended in 2006. Trail Blazers now own the Spurs, winning five games in a row, six of the last 7.

Portland is 50 percent against teams with winning records; Spurs are only 35 percent.  The Spurs collapsed in the fourth quarter blowing a 10 point lead losing to Portland 96 to 93.

Coach Popovich made two of the worst financial decisions in Spurs franchise history wasting $29 million on Richard Jefferson; then inexplicably blew another $15 million on a player who will be 39 when his contract expires, Antonio McDyess!

Financial incompetence like Popovich just exhibited sunk Bear Sterns, Lehmann Brothers and Washington Mutual. The Spurs should demand a salary rebate or Pop's sobriety test.

Popovich has a history of undervaluing key Spurs players. Hard-nosed Hedo Turkoglu and intense Stephen Jackson- remember them? Pop never saw the potential their fans saw. 

After Turkoglu hit 42 percent of his three-pointers, Pop traded him. Turkoglu increased his ppg from 9.2 to 19.5. Jackson’s 11.5 ppg exploded to 18.1 his first year without Popovich, then three years in a row over 20 ppg! Both were solid Spurs players with potential Pop never saw.

Spurs drafted Luis Scola, who is 29 like Jefferson. Popovich approved Jefferson's $14.5 million a year but did not want to pay Scola $3 million a year! Jefferson is 12.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg, with a +11.2 EFF.  Scola is 14.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg and an EFF +17.42.

Jefferson padded career stats playing with Jason Kidd and Vince Carter, who drew double teams leaving him open for dunks. His 20 ppg scoring days are over. Scola plays with fiery passion diving for balls. Jefferson sleepwalks, like waiting for the ink to dry on his checks.

Is Antonio McDyess worth $15 million? If you answered yes, are you his wife or agent? McDyess hasn’t averaged 10 points a game for a decade. Pop thinks Scola is not worth $3 million, but McDyess $15 million for three years! $44,200,000 can't buy one NBA superstar?

Pop has a closet filled with bad moves camouflaged beneath his impressive win-loss record, courtesy of Robinson and Duncan. If the Spurs do not win 53 games in 2010, lowest total wins since 1996, someone should look at Pop’s player management skills more closely.   

McDyess fits the Spurs geriatric crew well. Nine of 14 Spurs will over 30 years old in 2010: Bogans, Jefferson, Mason, and Bonner; Ginobli will be 33, Duncan 34, McDyess 36. Finley and Ratliff will be 37 in less than two months. The average NBA player is 25.

The Spurs have requested NBA halftime breaks be rescheduled between the third and fourth quarters so they may take naps off the court, instead of on it during fourth quarter.  The Boston Celtics have eagerly seconded the Spurs Nap Resolution.

When teams are overloaded with aging stars, three things happen: teams lose games late in the fourth quarter, players get injured missing consecutive games, and teams collapse at the season’s end. The Boston Celtics on Superbowl Sunday against the Magic are an example.

In 2009, the Spurs collapsed losing 12 of their last 24, and 15 of their last 31 games. At the end of 2010, I expect the Spurs to lose 10 of their last 15 regular season games as they struggle for a 50 win season, their worst win total in 13 years.  

Don’t be fooled by the Spurs 29-20 record, artificially inflated feasting on cellar-dwellers and playing nine more home than away games. Will the Spurs win 53 games? No! 50 games?

Popovich has failed to recognize the Spurs most basic basketball truth: the Spurs are no longer an NBA Championship caliber team with their current anemic roster.

Pop's losing game comments are classical “we have got to play better defense,” or “we are not contending a whole game.” Sure, that explains it? Popovich's comments are textbook.

Popovich fails to recognize the Spurs' main problem: with eight wins and 15 losses against winning teams, the Spurs do not have players to consistently beat teams with winning records. Until then they do, they will not seriously contend for an NBA Championship!  

The Spurs have no one to step into Duncan’s shoes, as he did for David Robinson. Who is he? Soon-to-be 30-year-old Richard Jefferson and 36-year-old McDyess are NOT the season-changing solutions! Popovich has failed to recruit the talent for the Spurs future.

Think Chris Bosh, think Kevin Durant, think Brandon Roy! Think! Where is a potential Tim Duncan! Spurs are clueless! $44 million down NBA drains sent care of Coach Popovich!

If Popovich thinks Jefferson and McDyess are worth $44 million, they will make Spurs new NBA champions, then the reality of coaching NBA basketball has passed him by. His time as Spurs head coach should be over.

Last year, the Spurs had a winning record against only one of the seven Western Conference playoff teams: the Utah Jazz, which they swept 3-0. This year, the Utah Jazz embarrassed the Spurs 3-0 without the Spurs seriously contending a game. That’s the Spurs future in 2010.


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