The San Antonio Spurs are the hands down winner in the offseason. They were able to sign All-Star forward/center LaMarcus Aldridge (23.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg, and 1 bpg) to a four-year contract and managed to add depth in the position by acquiring former All-Star David West. Additionally, they were able to lock in Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard and shooter/defender Danny Green to long-term contracts. And with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili returning, the Spurs will remain relevant for a long time and looks like the team to beat in the 2015-2016 NBA season (sorry Golden State Warriors fans).
After spending his first nine seasons in Portland, Aldridge tested the free agent market since he hasn’t had much success with his former team. He was reportedly wooed by big market teams including the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks but in the end, he was not impressed, and wanted to win immediately as he enters the prime of his career. Winning now was something the Spurs could offer and the other teams couldn’t despite the glitz and glamour associated with Hollywood and the Big Apple. The team now has their next generation center to replace the 39-year old Duncan.
Surprisingly, the Spurs were also able to lure David West from the Indiana Pacers. West at 34 is in the twilight of his career and took an $11 million pay cut to join a winner. He turned down more money from the Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Washington Wizards to chase a championship. Outside his production of 11.7 points and 6.8 rebounds last season, West gives the Spurs more versatility with his accurate medium range shooting, perfect for Tony Parker pick-and-rolls. Importantly, West is a veteran with a strong locker room voice.
With these additions, the Spurs now boast of the most talented and deep team in the league. Imagine a starting line-up of multi-awarded All-Stars including Parker, Leonard, Green, Duncan and Aldridge backed up by Ginobili, West, Boris Diaw, and the newly-acquired Ray McCallum. This is the team that the best coach in the league Gregg Popovich will coach. Popovich is a master at managing workloads and now, he has more depth to ensure that his veterans are fresh for the playoffs.
The Spurs are the destination of choice of many veterans and up-and-coming players simply because they keep on winning. They are the winningest professional franchise in history. Put in context, the Spurs have had a winning record since 1997 – including 5 titles. Their consistency and tradition has led to 16 straight seasons of 50 wins or more. This streak should be 18 if not for their 37-13 record during the 1998-1999 lock-out season.
The team’s winning template— selflessness, teamwork, and being low-key—is much envied so much so that former Spurs staff and players are sought after by many teams. Coach Steve Kerr who led the Golden State Warriors to their first title in 40 years this year is a disciple of Pop’s space-and-pace tactics. Coach of the Year Mike Buden¬holzer spent 18 years with the Spurs before taking the head coaching position in Atlanta.
Make no mistake; the Spurs are managing the transition well with the old guard (Duncan, Ginobili, Parker) slowly handing over the reins to the next generation (Aldridge, Leonard). And they are doing it with the aim of giving the franchise their 6th title. The Spurs are the team to beat!