Posted on September 8, 2013 at 8:56 pm by Dan McCarney
There hasn’t been a single team in NBA history impacted in any significant way by their 15th man, and the 2013-14 Spurs won’t be the first.
That much is clear from the collection of has-beens, are-nots and never-weres with whom they’ve been connected in recent weeks about possibly filling their final roster spot — Josh Childress, Mickael Pietrus, Sebastian Telfair, Sam Young, even the seemingly-retired Mike Bibby.
Just because there has been apparent contact doesn’t mean anything will come of it. Witness the epic duel between Eddy Curry and Josh Powell during last year’s 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 season’s Finals.
They boil down to two clear roles: Reserve small forward, to scavenge for whatever crumbs Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green don’t hoard; and back-up point guard, a spot the Spurs have yet to secure despite having three already — Cory Joseph, Nando De Colo and Patty Mills.
It’s almost impossible to imagine the Spurs adding yet another, at which point they’d be dedicating a full third of their roster space to point guards. That’s isn’t the type of efficient resource management for which they’ve 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 — Parker’s nominal backup for the past few years — remains a highly effective pick-and-roll player. He isn’t getting any younger either, however. Or more dependable, as his 12 turnovers over the last two games of the Finals will attest.
Genetically splice Parker’s three back-ups, and you’d have a hell of a player — Joseph’s defensive acumen, Mills’ long-range stroke, De Colo’s court vision. Individually, they all have enough weaknesses/questions that it’s 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 didn’t play at all last season, it’s highly doubtful that either could do much better than what the Spurs already have. But the fact that they’re even looking in the first place is telling enough.
Link to article: Spurs Nation » Rumor milling: The 15th roster spot
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