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Rumor milling: The 15th roster spot

Posted on September 8, 2013 at 8:56 pm by Dan McCarney

There hasnít been a single team in NBA history impacted in any significant way by their 15th man, and the 2013-14 Spurs wonít be the first.

That much is clear from the collection of has-beens, are-nots and never-weres with whom theyíve been connected in recent weeks about possibly filling their final roster spot ó Josh Childress, Mickael Pietrus, Sebastian Telfair, Sam Young, even the seemingly-retired Mike Bibby.

Just because there has been apparent contact doesnít mean anything will come of it. Witness the epic duel between Eddy Curry and Josh Powell during last yearís training camp, with the Spurs passing on both to maintain the roster flexibility that allowed them to take a flyer on Australian big man Aron Baynes.

Even if the Spurs do look elsewhere, the names illustrate the few weak spots on a roster that was otherwise strong enough to push defending champion Miami to the absolute limit in last seasonís Finals.

They boil down to two clear roles: Reserve small forward, to scavenge for whatever crumbs Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green donít hoard; and back-up point guard, a spot the Spurs have yet to secure despite having three already ó Cory Joseph, Nando De Colo and Patty Mills.

Itís almost impossible to imagine the Spurs adding yet another, at which point theyíd be dedicating a full third of their roster space to point guards. Thatís isnít the type of efficient resource management for which theyíve become famous. But with Tony Parker advancing into his 30s, and coming off a season in which he wore down physically, a dependable caddy has never been a bigger need.

Not critical, mind you. For all his warts, Manu Ginobili ó Parkerís nominal backup for the past few years ó remains a highly effective pick-and-roll player. He isnít getting any younger either, however. Or more dependable, as his 12 turnovers over the last two games of the Finals will attest.

Genetically splice Parkerís three back-ups, and youíd have a hell of a player ó Josephís defensive acumen, Millsí long-range stroke, De Coloís court vision. Individually, they all have enough weaknesses/questions that itís clear why the Spurs might not be comfortable with any of them.

Mills, the good-natured, pot-bellied gunner from Down Under, seems destined for a career as a popular mascot. De Colo has little of the physicality or toughness that Gregg Popovich covets.

The most promising, by far, is Joseph, a former first-round pick who is in the midst of a strong summer with Team Canada after showing flashes of competency in his sophomore NBA season. He improved markedly from his rookie campaign, improving his field-goal percentage by nearly 15 points to 46.4. Joseph has also shown a willingness to stick his nose in defensively, a Spurs necessity. So is 3-point shooting, however, and that remains a weakness after he connected on just 28.6 percent of his attempts.

Hence the apparent flirtations with Telfair and Bibby. Considering that the former has played for seven teams in nine years, while the latter didnít play at all last season, itís highly doubtful that either could do much better than what the Spurs already have. But the fact that theyíre even looking in the first place is telling enough.

Link to article: Spurs Nation Ľ Rumor milling: The 15th roster spot
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