Manu Ginobili‘s bald spot might signal it’s over for the old guys. But, the San Antonio Spurs are trying to gear up again for one final push with their current roster. Every year, the “Spurs aren’t dead” headlines appear. Last summer, the signings of Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess were supposed to put them over the hump. They didn’t.
Now, the San Antonio News-Express is reporting that Spurs’ 2007 first-round pick, Tiago Splitter really wants to and is planning on coming to the States for next season:
During a ceremony this week celebrating Caja Laboral’s Splitter-led Spanish League championship, team president Josean Quereta said he understands it is Splitter’s “intent and desire” to join the NBA next season.
Splitter, the Spurs’ 2007 first-round draft pick and the MVP of the Spanish League this season, “wants to compete in the best league in the world,” Quereta said.
This summer will be a pivotal one for the 25-year-old Splitter in pursuit of that goal. He has an out clause in his contract with Caja Laboral that would allow him to move to the NBA this offseason. Otherwise, it will be two more seasons before he could easily free himself from his Spanish League deal.
After the Spanish League championship game, Splitter acknowledged his days in Spain could be over, but indicated his future plans remain undecided.
“If it was my last game (it) is the best way to say goodbye,” he told Spanish media. “But right now I do not know what to do.”
He was rumored to be coming to the NBA as early as 2005, and has the longest running profile in DraftExpress.com’s history, so San Antonio knows what they are getting from the 7-footer: an active, shot-blocking presence on one end and a solid inside finisher on the other.
San Antonio has long had a desire to team Tim Duncan with an athletic partner. Ever since David Robinson retired, they’ve been unable to do it, going through guys like Rasho Nesterovic, Nazr Mohammed, Fabricio Oberto and Kurt Thomas. Not quite The Admiral.
But the Spurs makeover won’t stop there. The rumors about San Antonio attempting to move up in the Draft are alive and squirming. A few weeks ago, we discussed the rumor of Tony Parker being dangled for Indiana’s No. 10 pick, Troy Murphy and Brandon Rush. It’s highly doubtful Indiana accepts this, despite their point guard problems, but what if R.C. Buford throws in the rights to Splitter, knowing he is on his way to the NBA next year, along with San Antonio’s No. 20 pick? The Spurs are fond of North Carolina’s Ed Davis. Despite recent reports saying the power forward won’t fall past Utah at No. 9, a frontline of Davis, Duncan and Murphy would be a major upgrade.
Players like Ekpe Udoh, Cole Aldrich and Patrick Patterson are also in the mix to be chosen during the late-Lottery.
Murphy also holds an expiring contract of almost $12 million. The Indianapolis Star reported recently that the Pacers want to unload some of their expiring contracts. They’ve had discussions with at least 20 teams about the No. 10 pick, but are keen on not taking back any contracts that would stunt the rebuilding process. Parker is still due over $25 million for the next two years.
At the wing and backcourt positions, the Spurs are in a good position. George Hill is coming along nicely, Ginobili is playing at a very high level once again and even Jefferson is still capable of scoring 20. Parker is still in the mix for now as well.
But the Spurs see the Western Conference as a bunch of teams all chasing the Lakers. No one can match L.A.’s size and length. So it appears the Spurs are making that their primary focus once again this summer.
What do you think? Where do the Spurs go from here?
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