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LauraBC 05-24-06 02:07 AM

MySA: Mohammed or Nesterovic likely to exit
 
Spurs' offseason begins: Mohammed or Nesterovic likely to exit
Web Posted: 05/24/2006 12:00 AM CDT
Johnny Ludden
Express-News Staff Writer

Gregg Popovich leaned against the wall just outside his office at the AT&T Center and smiled. Though the Spurs and Dallas Mavericks were an hour away from meeting in Monday's seventh and decisive game, he already had seen enough to be impressed.

Never had Popovich been involved in a playoff series where the margin between victory and defeat was so thin and the competitiveness so fierce.

"Whoever loses," Popovich said, "will still feel like they have a hell of a basketball team, that's for sure."

A day later, the Spurs' championship reign having ended beneath the frustration of a Game 7 loss, Popovich felt the same. Even more so after watching his team erase a 20-point deficit before fading in overtime.

"We're a hell of a basketball team, and Dallas is a hell of a basketball team," Popovich said. "They get to go forward this year. But I've never been more proud of a team and the way they competed."

In that sense, Popovich is glad the Spurs don't need to change their core this summer. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are returning and — judging from the 32.3 points Duncan averaged in the Western Conference semifinals — all appear to be near their prime or, in Parker's case, approaching it.

The Spurs also figure to surround their three stars with more than a few familiar faces. Of the 14 players on the team's roster, only four are free agents: Nazr Mohammed, Nick Van Exel, Sean Marks and Melvin Sanders.

Van Exel is retiring, and there's a good chance Mohammed, who turned down a contract extension before the season and played sparingly in the playoffs, also won't be back. If the Spurs do re-sign Mohammed, then Rasho Nesterovic probably would be traded. Investing $14 million in two centers in the league's small-ball era is unlikely.

"We have to figure out what we want to do, as far as bigs are concerned," Popovich said. "Do we want (power forwards) or do we want (centers)? How small do we want to play, or how big do we want to play? Do we want to try to be big, even if somebody else is small?"

The NBA free-agent pool this summer isn't deep compared to other years, and the Spurs don't have a first-round pick in next month's draft. But they will explore signing two previous selections: Argentine forward Luis Scola and Lithuanian forward/center Robertas Javtokas.

Depending on how much of the Spurs' $5.1 million midlevel exception Scola seeks — the team also has a $1.75 million exception available — Javtokas might be more cost effective. Trading Scola's rights or working a sign-and-trade deal with Mohammed are other options.

The Spurs nearly traded Brent Barry midway through the season, and they still would like to get younger and more athletic on the perimeter. Sooner rather than later, they need to start grooming someone to succeed Bruce Bowen.

Popovich, however, isn't ready to declare the team eligible for AARP benefits just yet. Versatility, he said, is almost as important as athleticism.

"I listen to how athletic Dallas was and how we couldn't handle it, and it just makes me smile," Popovich said. "If you win, there's all kinds of things you did well. If you lose, there's got to be reasons why you lost.

"So if they're more athletic, I need to figure out how much more to win by a point. How much more athletic is that?"


Robert Horry, who declared himself a "dinosaur" a week ago after watching the Mavericks zip by him, told his teammates during Tuesday's season-ending meeting they could help themselves by arriving at training camp in shape.

"For a guy who's been around the block a long time to say he's going to get himself physically ready to compete next year means a lot," Michael Finley said. "Hopefully, everybody took that to heart and that's our motto going into the summer."

The Spurs expect to have six players compete in this summer's World Championships, including three starters. Duncan, however, isn't among them. He will rest his right foot, even though it didn't seem to trouble him much, if at all, during the playoffs.

"I think what Timmy will probably do, No. 1, is continue with a regimen about what he puts in his body," Popovich said. "His body was the trimmest it's ever been. He'll do what he has to do to stay in shape but not aggravate the foot."

Duncan's renaissance — "He's unbelievable and unguardable," Dirk Nowitzki said after watching him score 41 points Monday — gives the Spurs optimism for next season. So does the development of Parker, whose next step, Popovich said, is to improve his decision-making and sharpen his leadership.

The Spurs' first concern is making sure Ginobili doesn't dwell on Monday's loss. After giving the Spurs a 104-101 lead on a 3-pointer with 32.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter, he helped Dallas tie the game by fouling Nowitzki on a layup.

"We would have two less championships here if it wasn't for Manu Ginobili," Popovich said. "In my book, Manu Ginobili is the stud of the world.

"There's nobody that's a better competitor. I'd jump in a fox hole with him or go anywhere he wanted to go any time."
:lol

Ginobili naturally hopes to take the Spurs back to the top. Being eliminated by their biggest rival in a series where two losses came in overtime and another was by a single point adds to the motivation.

"When I first came here, coach preached about how other teams have that circumstantial fuel," Finley said. "Like a Detroit, being beat by San Antonio last year; by Dallas not being able to overcome San Antonio over the years.

"Now we have that circumstantial fuel."


Bowen thought the sting the Spurs felt from Derek Fisher's .4 shot two years ago — a shot that led to the end of their previous reign — was worse than that from Monday's loss.

"Maybe it's Dallas' year," Parker said. "I don't know."

As for the notion the Spurs have passed the torch to the Mavericks? Bowen shook his head.

"I don't think," he said, "we're old and decrepit quite yet."

Link

rapsuhdee 05-24-06 02:21 AM

Quote:

"We would have two less championships here if it wasn't for Manu Ginobili," Popovich said. "In my book, Manu Ginobili is the stud of the world.

"There's nobody that's a better competitor. I'd jump in a fox hole with him or go anywhere he wanted to go any time."

I really hope Manu listens to what Pop said and not dwell over it. Where would we be without him really...

Rzarector7 05-24-06 02:23 AM

That made me smile for some reason!!!!!!!!!!!! And I agree, motivation is there now, like MY DAD said today out back that the focus will be back there now after this and maybe that will help. SPURS IN 07, they will add some pieces and be more focused now next year, for real I think they needed this as bad as it seems and they will be back.

curiousspirit 05-24-06 02:23 AM

I agree completely. Manu is a true warrior. :hat

VALLEY GIRL 05-24-06 03:04 AM

Too true--he's helped us get the last 2 Championships, and he'll be there for our 3rd, 4th, 5th...

intlspurshk 05-24-06 03:09 AM

I wish both centers get traded and SPURS retool the center position again!!!

Krycek1 05-24-06 03:29 AM

I really like Finley's attiude. I mean the 3 teams that wanted him are the only ones left in the playoffs and the other team is the one that dumped him, ouch. We'll get one for you Finley!

brickowskay 05-24-06 06:40 AM

good, positive information here. The Spurs are my team next year, that's for sure!

thirdtrespicio 05-24-06 07:21 AM

as for me... i am a spurs fan 4 life... no matter what happens...

blazinskillz 05-24-06 07:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bonnington
I hope Nazr is gone, and I will keep Rasho. http://4fxearth.net/phpBB2/smilies_m...0313c6c610.gif

can't be serious..I hope both are gone

Robinson50 05-24-06 07:51 AM

Give me a break Pop. If you're going to play 7 guys against the Mavs next season without any center then what's the point of Versatility? You never tried to be versatile during the series, not even for 1 game. Then after you lose you come out and say 'versatility is almost as important as athletism'? Against other teams? So we're going to give a player DNP for a series then play that guy 35 minutes the next? Yeah right as if that's going to work.

brazil_spursfan 05-24-06 08:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bonnington
I hope Nazr is gone, and I will keep Rasho. http://4fxearth.net/phpBB2/smilies_m...0313c6c610.gif

I agree... I don't see Rasho being traded... And yes, Nazr is gone (I hope)...

DizzG 05-24-06 08:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Robinson50
Give me a break Pop. If you're going to play 7 guys against the Mavs next season without any center then what's the point of Versatility? You never tried to be versatile during the series, not even for 1 game. Then after you lose you come out and say 'versatility is almost as important as athletism'? Against other teams? So we're going to give a player DNP for a series then play that guy 35 minutes the next? Yeah right as if that's going to work.

:lol

is there anything you dont bash Pop for lately?

blazinskillz 05-24-06 08:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bonnington
Who's gonna take him with the contract he have?

Give Isiah some Kelloggs cereal and milk and you have a deal :evil

blazinskillz 05-24-06 08:20 AM

seriously tho..I dont know.They're both terrible imo..

Robinson50 05-24-06 09:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DizzG
:lol

is there anything you dont bash Pop for lately?

I'm hurt. 63 wins and we can't get to the WC finals. I guess Pop gives me a good outlet to vent. :D

Robinson50 05-24-06 09:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bonnington
Actually I think that most of us, here, had the impression that something was missing this year. Injuries or not, I think that something was missing in the team.

I think there's something missing every year. None of the 3 years we won looked super to me, there's always some problems, but we won 3 times because of some great shots or some stops or some lucky bounces. This year is same to me. We've a lot of problems and yet we won 63 games. But then once the Mavs series started I just can't bear to watch because at least to me we're not playing Spurs basketball. We're playing Mavs basketball. It's just striked me. That's why I was hurt so much (and still am). And yes to me Pop is to blame for getting me hurt. :lol

pmf 05-24-06 09:15 AM

Just keep in mind not every team in the league plays small ball like the Mavs & Suns. We still have Yao & Shaq, plus if our perimeter speed improves that will make a traditional big man more effective.

Just my $.02

PF

medigerati 05-24-06 09:25 AM

also keep in mind we didn't make it to the WCF because the seeding was messed up. Not saying that a round two victory would be in the books, but we would have had a better chance .

Robinson50 05-24-06 09:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bonnington
Last year playing Suns basketball was successful.

Nazr played a lot, Horry was also effective, Rasho was hurt. And we're not giving up 50 layups to the Suns every game, we're not giving up all the rebounds to them either, we actually played defense and played uptempo offense at the same time. It's not nearly the same to me.

DizzG 05-24-06 10:09 AM

Quote:

I think there's something missing every year
Wow..the ultimate "glass half empty" attitude :lol

No team is ever pefect but 3 titles in 7 years..not sure how you dont seemed impressed with that...great shots...stops and luck is a very real part of winning a title. The Spurs were one shot away from prob going back to the finals this year as they would have beaten the Suns IMO. If you think something is missing every single year...even when SA wins a TITLE...how are you ever happy? :lol

bnwhuxley 05-24-06 11:05 AM

What teams out there need a center badly? Toronto. Portland (they'll lose Pryzbilla). New Orleans (PJ Brown is retiring soon). Who else?

shelden 05-24-06 12:54 PM

And who would you have for center in place of Rasho/Nazr? I'm guessing you're aware that Yao and Shaq aren't available...

Wannabeer 05-24-06 01:02 PM

If I hear one more word about "small ball", I think I might fuking lose it!

Robinson50 05-24-06 01:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DizzG
Wow..the ultimate "glass half empty" attitude :lol

No team is ever pefect but 3 titles in 7 years..not sure how you dont seemed impressed with that...great shots...stops and luck is a very real part of winning a title. The Spurs were one shot away from prob going back to the finals this year as they would have beaten the Suns IMO. If you think something is missing every single year...even when SA wins a TITLE...how are you ever happy? :lol

Woo you're taking 1 sentence way out of context. I was talking about how I feel about the chance of winning each year before the playoffs. I always feel we're not perfect team and while we always have a legit shot to win every year I'm never very sure because there's always something 'missing'. Not that I'm not happy when we actually won it. This year is no different to me, before the playoffs it's just like every year we win/didn't win and afterwards just like every year we didn't win.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Wannabeer
If I hear one more word about "small ball", I think I might fuking lose it!

I already did lose it. :lol

DizzG 05-24-06 01:37 PM

Quote:

Woo you're taking 1 sentence way out of context. I was talking about how I feel about the chance of winning each year before the playoffs. I always feel we're not perfect team and while we always have a legit shot to win every year I'm never very sure because there's always something 'missing'. Not that I'm not happy when we actually won it. This year is no different to me, before the playoffs it's just like every year we win/didn't win and afterwards just like every year we didn't win
ok :)

Dave McNulla 05-24-06 03:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Robinson50
Give me a break Pop. If you're going to play 7 guys against the Mavs next season without any center then what's the point of Versatility? You never tried to be versatile during the series, not even for 1 game. Then after you lose you come out and say 'versatility is almost as important as athletism'? Against other teams? So we're going to give a player DNP for a series then play that guy 35 minutes the next? Yeah right as if that's going to work.

what's the point of building a team that can beat the mavs if you can't face shaq in the finals? that's the point of versatility. try to think big picture.

DizzG 05-24-06 04:08 PM

Fans keep saying SA needs to do things to face the Mavs. SA cant think that way. Their other teams out there besides the Mavs

curiousspirit 05-24-06 05:13 PM

We have to keep Rasho for Yao and Shaq. He can handle them better than Nazr or a Nazr clone. I think the Rockets will be more competitive next season and we can't just focus on the Mavs.

According to an article on another thread, Pop's first concern will be with a backup point guard. I don't know if Beno will be traded or if Pop will try and get another backup. Since we lost to the Mavs by so close of a margin, and the refs gave the mavs a boost, I don't see too many adjustments needed because of them. :shrug

spurssheriff 05-24-06 06:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DizzG
Fans keep saying SA needs to do things to face the Mavs. SA cant think that way. Their other teams out there besides the Mavs

Agreed. In my opinion, for better or worse, we played the Mavs with one tied behind our back. We need to see who wins the championship and make roster moves to top them.

Bucks 05-24-06 06:47 PM

dirk will not be as good nexr year
he is playing liek the dream did against david robinson that one year

Assassin 05-24-06 07:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ducks
dirk will not be as good nexr year
he is playing liek the dream did against david robinson that one year

Dirk has figured out what MVPs need to do.
He is not going to regress, we will have to get better.

mg06 05-24-06 07:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bnwhuxley
What teams out there need a center badly? Toronto. Portland (they'll lose Pryzbilla). New Orleans (PJ Brown is retiring soon). Who else?

You mean, that bad? I don't think so... :lol

Robinson50 05-24-06 07:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dave McNulla
what's the point of building a team that can beat the mavs if you can't face shaq in the finals? that's the point of versatility. try to think big picture.

I am actually thinking of the big picture, and I see the Mavs being the biggest threat. Look, Miami beat Detroit or not, Shaq is getting old and slow. If we put a small lineup on him he's either going to guard TD or a guard, which means he'll be in constant foul trouble. Yeah he'll get a few dunks before that but I certainly think that's acceptable. As for Yao, same thing, put the small lineup out and drive towards him every possession, we can even use TD to guard him at first before he gets into foul trouble. That's the basis of going small, and it's working in this league right now since the refs call a foul whenever a big man trying to block a drive.


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