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I woke up this morning (not feeling like P. Diddy; screw “Ke$ha”) and Ticket 760’s Facebook posed an interesting question: “Was the Spurs letting go of Luis Scola the worst move in the Pop/RC era? List your top 2 bad moves.”

Well how about two moves and an honorable mention?

1. Trading Luis Scola to the Rockets:

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Big, bad and better than ever TRSP is back.  I don’t know what made me bring it back, or how long I’ll keep it around, but lets rejoice and enjoy for the time being.  The comeback blog I’ve been waiting for is here…NBA Playoff Predictions, after the jump. 

EASTERN CONFERENCE 

I could just say that the East Finals are going to be Orlando and Cleveland and save myself some time, but what’s the fun in that? 

(1) Cleveland Cavaliers v.s. (8) Chicago Bulls 

They could do this all series, and probably still sweep Chicago.

This series is going to be a joke.  Seriously?  Can we just have it be that the Cavs get a first round bye?  Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah aren’t good enough to even overcome the incompetent Coach Vinny Del Negro and Vice-President John Paxson, let alone LeBron & Co. If the NBA really even wanted this to be a series, they’d make the Cavs dress LeBron in a suit. 

Cleveland Cavaliers in 4 games. 

(2) Orlando Magic v.s. (7) Charlotte Bobcats 

The defending East champs against a first time playoff team is an intriguing matchup, but another bore of a series.  I’ll give the Kittens credit, they have a great team and have the ability to pull an ’07 Warriors like run, but very doubtful. 

MJ's gonna have to wait for his 7th ring...but not too long.

Give them a season or two more, especially now under Jordan, and you may be looking a the new wrecking crew to compete with the elite of the league. 

Orlando Magic in 6 games. 

(3) Atlanta Hawks v.s. (6) Milwaukee Bucks 

This matchup would be great if Andrew Bogut was healthy, but no matter how much the Bucks peaked toward the end of this season, Atlanta’s squad is up and down, too good to be rocked in the 1st round.  Jamal Crawford off the bench, paired with Bibby and Josh Smith, will do quick work of Rookie of the Year candidate, Brandon Jennings.  Milwaukee still could do some damage, and have the ability to be as great as any team in the East, but this isn’t their year.  If they can keep Salmons and find another big to shoulder the load with Bogut (Darko Millicic (yes the same Darko taken #2 overall by Detriot, after LeBron James) would be a good asset), then I’ll take the Bucks seriously. 

Atlanta Hawks in 5 games. 

(4) Boston Celtics v.s. (5) Miami Heat 

The best matchup in the East, and probably the most entertaining series, can only be described in two words. Dwyane Wade. I don’t care what Boston has done, who they have and what experience advantage they may maintain over Miami, Dwyane Wade will dominate Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen with ease. 

He's gotta be unstoppable.

 Factor in a slowed and aging Kevin Garnett, and a Rasheed Wallace, who can’t hit the broad side of a barn, let alone a basket, and this series is a no-brainer.  Also, Boston has the most losses in the NBA, when leading by double digits. 

Miami Heat in 6 games. 

WESTERN CONFERENCE 

(1) Los Angeles Lakers v.s. (8) Oklahoma City Thunder 

Phil Jackson likes to take shots at Kevin Durant.  Ten NBA Championships will do that to you.  But, could Phil be eating his words after this series is over? …no.  Even though the Lakers have the most questions entering the playoffs, its Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and crazy ass Ron Artest.  The Thunder are a piece or two away from being legit title contenders, but right now, I’m guessing they’ll enjoy the 8th seed.  If I lived in Seattle, I’d be hanging from a noose, waiting for someone to kick the chair away. 

Los Angeles Lakers in 6 games. 

(2) Dallas Mavericks v.s. (7) San Antonio Spurs 

Dear Mavs, have fun stopping these two.

I refuse to go into detail about this series, and I am not going to hide my fandom.  The Spurs are going to make the Mavericks regret last year.  George Hill, a candidate for Most Improved Player, rarely saw the floor in last year’s series, while Manu Ginobili didn’t even get to see his uniform, due to his stress fracture.  Revenge is a dish best served cold. 

San Antonio Spurs in 6 games. 

(3) Phoenix Suns v.s. (6) Portland Trail Blazers 

A tale of two teams.  The uptempo Suns and the injury plagued Blazers.  This series is a joke.  Even though the Thunder, Spurs and Blazers all finished with the same 50-32 record, the Blazers get the 6th seed, due to tie breakers.  Honestly, I feel sorry for Portland…Sam Bowie, Drexler unable to bring them a ring, the Darius Miles incident, Greg Oden’s knee injury and picture of his third leg, and now Brandon Roy’s knee injury…this organization can’t catch a break.  The Suns are going to dismantle the Trail Blazers, to the tune of about 140 points a night. 

Phoenix Suns in 5 games. 

(4) Denver Nuggets v.s. (5) Utah Jazz 

Two coaches that could never seem to win it all, George Karl and Jerry Sloan face off in the first round.  The Nuggets are a team that plays according to their coaches pulse.  J.R. Smith and Melo only seem to be on top of their game when George Karl is sitting on the bench, and when those two are on fire, the rest of the team catches on.  But the Jazz are a team that never gives up, and maybe a deep playoff push will some how convince Carlos Boozer to stay………probably not, he’s already got one foot out the door.  

If Denver wants to win this series, they need to stay out of the house of pain, as much as possible.

 

 The only way Denver wins this series, is if Coach Karl is right there on the court with his team.  Utah needs to steal away home court, if they want to advance at all. 

Denver Nuggets in 7 games. 

 

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So exactly two weeks after I posted the Spurs 2009-2010 roster breakdown, the Spurs have signed Theo Ratliff, the 36-year-old center, who just recently played for the Philadelphia 76ers. This gives the Spurs seven big men on their roster (Duncan, McDyess, Blair, Mahinmi, Bonner, Gist and Ratliff) meaning something has to give. I like the idea of bringing him off the bench with Blair, giving the Spurs a solid rebounding and shot blocking combo, but I’m not sold on the signing, even if it’s for one year at the veteran minimum. Mahinmi did okay in summer league, but was not at all impressive, while Blair proved that he will be an excellent rotation player.

Maybe there’s a trade coming, maybe there isn’t…maybe Gist was just a try out and will be put in Austin. Either way, low risk/medium reward signing? I’m all for it.

Commenters – your thoughts?

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Now that the Spurs have signed Antonio McDyess (which I’m extremely happy with), Marcus Haislip, Malik Hairston, traded for Richard Jefferson, drafted DeJuan Blair and Jack McClinton, and got word that Michael Finley was coming back, it’s hard to see where everyone fits.

The roster at the moment is:

Tony Parker, G

George Hill, G

Roger Mason, G

Jack McClinton, G

Manu Ginobili, G

Michael Finley, G/F

Richard Jefferson, F

Malik Hairston, F

DeJuan Blair, F

Marcus Haislip, F

Matt Bonner, F/C

Antonio McDyess, F/C

Tim Duncan, F/C

Ian Mahinmi, C

That’s 14 players. Now I know the roster normally contains 15, but your active roster is only 12 guys. The Spurs are loaded at the 4 spot, even though most of the players are undersized, they are not 3’s that can fit behind Richard Jefferson. That being said, Ginobili and Finley can play behind Jefferson and Mason, but the team needs another guard somewhere. McClinton and Hill are both athletic and versatile guards, but none of which are true point guards – even though George Hill filled that role exceptionally well, as a rookie, when Tony went down. Mahinmi has always had a history of injuries, so he’s not reliable. McDyess and Duncan are both guys who are going to require some sort of rest during the regular season. Matt Bonner is a player that shouldn’t ever play near 20 minutes again, because he’s such a liability on defense and most of his shots come at unimportant times. Mason is a horrible player with the ball, as his dribble penetration is the weakest flaw in his game. Finley is an inconsistent jump shooter, who also lacks driving into the paint, but not because of ability, because of age. And, lastly, Manu Ginobili isn’t the same player who burst on the scene in 2003, with off balance lay ups, that made you wanna kill him when he missed and love him when he got the “and 1” call.

So what’s next?

This roster is too talented and too large, to go into the season as a full 14 man team. Not to mention the amount of talent the Spurs posses in the D-League Austin Toros. There has to be another trade coming.

The ideal scenario is to trade Michael Finley. A lot of problems would’ve been solved if he didn’t pick up his player option. But since he did, the Spurs are stuck with him. He has an appealing expiring contract, but Michael Finley has the all important “Bird Rights”, which allow him to veto any trade that involves him. So now, the focus moves to Matt Bonner and Roger Mason, Jr.

There is one player, who is on the trade block, that would fit the Spurs perfectly – Raja Bell. His defense and outside shooting make him a perfect fit for Coach Pop’s system. Charlotte would get the expiring contracts of Matt Bonner and Roger Mason, Jr. and San Antonio would receive Raja Bell and Alexis Ajinca, who the Spurs would probably release instantly. Bell would fit into the starting lineup immediately, while Ginobili and Finley come off the bench behind him and Jefferson. Not to mention, him and Timmy would become instant buddies, seeing as both are from St. Croix.

But as we all know, now that it’s been said publicly, the Spurs will in no way, whatsoever do this trade.

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So it’s not a secret that the Spurs need to strengthen their front court, now that they’ve traded away Kurt Thomas and Fabricio Oberto. There are so many different names being floated around, and as most fans already know, Rasheed Wallace is a guy on the Spurs wish list. Yes, he’s got character problems. Yes, he’s great buddies with Tim Duncan. Yes, he’s exactly what the Spurs need. Yes, he was even rumored to be at the San Antonio International Airport a couple days ago?

Either way, it makes sense. Rasheed wants to go to a playoff contender and contenders only. The only three “championship” contenders that have significant cap room (teams that can offer more than the MLE) are the Orlando Magic, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Detroit Pistons – all three which can be ruled out. Orlando is a serious threat, but Sheed is being heavily courted by KG & the Celtics, and they still have Marcin Gortat to retain after trading away Tony Battie. The Trail Blazers are rumored to go after Hedo Turkoglu, so there goes all of their cap room. And the Detroit Pistons are looking to completely retool their roster, so ‘Sheed may not be in their plans anymore.

*not to mention Detroit and Portland already know what it’s like to have Rasheed ruin their entire locker room atmosphere

San Antonio, Boston, Cleveland, Orlando, Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers are all possible destinations, but only Boston is likely (besides San Antonio). Cleveland is losing Varejao and Joe Smith, but added Shaq, who dented their payroll somewhat. The Lakers have to choose to retain Odom or Ariza, because they cannot afford both (especially after Kobe refused to opt out of his deal to take less money). And, lastly, Dallas wants to resign Kidd and retain Brandon Bass, which will be a little more difficult now that Devean George decided to opt in.

In the end, everything looks like it could work out for the Spurs. Even if the Spurs don’t get their primary target, their are many other good front court players that can help out the teams’ needs right now. I’ll be posting my Free Agent wish list, later on today.

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As you’ve already heard, Richard Jefferson has been traded to the Spurs, for Fabricio Oberto, Kurt Thomas and Bruce Bowen. I just want to say, that even though our front court is thinner than ever, this trade excites me to no end. I don’t want to do any analyzing or talk about what’s next until after the draft on Thursday. Until then, enjoy the greatness that is Richard Jefferson, and the hotness that is his wife, Teresa Lourenco.

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This post has been a long time coming, but I’ve been delaying it out of not wanting to kick myself in the crotch.

So without further ado, here’s what the Spurs roster should look like, if it wasn’t for trades, complex buyouts, injuries, and the Spurs front office giving up to quickly on potentially good players that fit the system perfectly. Of course hindsight is always 20-20, but this is just for shits and giggles.

Now the bench roster is full of familiar names:

George Hill, G

Michael Finley, G/F

Ian Mahinmi, C

Kurt Thomas, F/C

Bruce Bowen, F

Roger Mason, Jr., G/F

Manu Ginobilli, G

But the starting lineup is where all the changes take place and where depression sinks in, as you notice how the Spurs roster could be shaped today.

*And now, introducing the starting lineup for your San Antonio Spurs! (crowd cheers half heartedly, while stuffing down nachos and beer).

– At guard, from France, number 9, Tony Parker! (graphic cuts to screenshot of Eva Longoria on the Lighthouse, all men in AT&T Center get erection).

– At the other guard, from Brazil, number 10, Leandro Barbosa! (Drafted 28th overall, in the ’03 draft, then traded to Phoenix for a future 1st round pick (2005) – which was then traded to the Knicks, along with the Spurs ’06 1st round pick and Malik Rose, for Nazr Mohammed and Jamison Brewer. The Knicks used those two picks to draft David Lee and Mardy Collins. Players the Spurs passed on to draft Barbosa: All-Star Josh Howard, Jason Kapono, Steve Blake, current hated Spur Matt Bonner, All-Star Mo Williams, and Kyle Korver).

– At forward, from the University of Miami, number 15, John Salmons! (Drafted 26th overall, in the ’02 draft, then immediately traded with Mark Bryant and Randy Holcomb, to the Sixers, for Speedy Claxton. Players the Spurs passed on to draft John Salmons: current Spur Roger Mason, Jr. and All-Star Carlos Boozer).

– At the other forward, from Argentina, number 4, Luis Scola! (Drafted 55th overall, in the ’02 draft, but a buyout kept Scola from coming over until the summer of 2007. Since the Spurs couldn’t afford the buyout, he was traded to the rival Rockets, along with Jackie Butler for Vasileios Spanoulis, cash, and the 53rd overall pick in the upcoming ’09 draft. Spanoulis was released by the Spurs, a month after being traded, citing that he wanted to return to Greece to be near his sick mother.)

– And, at center, from Wake Forest University, number 21, Tim Duncan! (somewhat of a louder cheer, everyone sits down to continue feeding face full of nachos, Whataburger, and beer.)

Notable players missing from roster, who can still have an impact on the Spurs franchise or the NBA: Tiago Splitter (drafted 28th overall in the ’07 draft, was eligible to come to San Antonio last summer, but decided to stay in Europe to receive more money. He can opt out of his deal in the summer of ’10, which holds out some hope for Spurs fans), James Gist (drafted 57th overall in the ’08 draft, played in the Spurs summer league and impressed, but decided to play in Italy for a year to earn more money. He did play very well in Europe and could very well be on the Spurs roster for the season opener, depending on this years draft and free agency), Marcus Williams (33rd overall in ’07 draft, played for the Spurs NBDL affiliate, Austin Toros. Was put on Spurs 15-man roster after Ginobilli was lost for the season.) and Robertas Javotokas (drafted 56th overall in ’01, stayed in the Euroleague and had a horrible motorcycle accident in 2002. He continues to play in Europe at an All-Star level and could eventually come to the NBA, even though he is already 29, the Spurs still own his rights if he chooses to go to the NBA).

Please, feel free to vent in the comments section.

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