They won a franchise-record 67-games, were nearly unbeatable at the AT&T Center and were thought to be one of the few teams that could bring down the Warriors.
Then, the Thunder happened. San Antonio was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by Oklahoma City, losing the final three games in the process. Their age and lack of athleticism (with the exception of Kawhi Leonard) showed. So ended any hopes of ruining the Warriors’ march to the Finals. Of course, as any number of memes will let you know, the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead to the Cavs.
Tim Duncan, a franchise legend and icon, retired, but the Spurs retooled this offseason and should still be strong again in 2016. The problem? They’re still old and still lack athleticism at key positions.
What did San Antonio do in the offseason?
The biggest headline is obviously the retirement of Duncan. The Spurs great averaged just 8.6 points and 7.3 rebounds last season. His postseason was even worse with 5.9 points while becoming nearly unplayable. It was clearly time to hang it up.
The Spurs are replacing Duncan with the 36-year-old Pau Gasol, who signed a two-year, nearly $30 million contract with San Antonio. So...I guess they technically got younger at center.
Gasol will take Duncan’s spot in the starting lineup to join Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Danny Green and Tony Parker.
The Spurs also brought back Manu Ginobili for what should be his last ride and drafted guard Dejonte Murray late in the first round (which we all might be mad at a few years from now).
The other big offseason move was trading Boris Diaw to the Utah Jazz. Diaw was a key member of San Antonio’s second unit over the past few years and a fan favorite. In Diaw’s place will be David Lee, who spent the second half of last season in Dallas. Lee played well last season with the Mavericks and is a suitable replacement for Diaw.
Biggest challenge for San Antonio
Age and athleticism. Leonard is a monster, but San Antonio as a whole might take a step back defensively this season.
Tony Parker is 34 and nowhere close to what he once was. I thought the Spurs would be contenders in the Mike Conley sweepstakes, but Conley reportedly had reservations on how things would work with him and Parker. This means the aging guard will remain tasked with guarding the likes of Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul on a nightly basis. Danny Green is still a decent perimeter defender that might need to do more this season.
Aldridge, 32, will help anchor the Spurs offense, but he’s no defensive stalwart. A front court with Gasol and Aldridge may present problems athletically and defensively, but the Spurs still have a major trump card in Leonard. He’s so good that he can cover a lot of their flaws and can potentially make San Antonio a top-10 defensive team even with a few flaws.
The Spurs should once again win the Southwest Division and have home court advantage in at least the first round of the playoffs. There’s no way they win 67 games this season, and they might have some struggles in a few places.
But if there’s anyone that can figure it out, it’s Gregg Popovich. The Spurs will be solid again and will probably torment us all like usual.