Dime Magazine savages Spurs

OK, so it’s only Dime, the Brooklyn Nets of basketball coverage.

Still, staff writer Dylan Murphy brings us a about how the Spurs’ reputation as the smartest guys in the room no longer fits. An excerpt:

Some still cling to the Spurs as is, citing their temporary eradication of the youth-galvanizing Thunder as The Proof. And there’s the apocryphal speculation, that San Antonio would have stood a better chance against Miami. But the Spurs face a body-bruising reality in the coming years.

If they want to recapture the NBA title, they’ll have to get through the Lakers or Thunder and Heat. And, if they can’t quite snag another top two seed, they’ll have to go through all three. So that secret is no longer so secretive.

Really, it’s just tired adulation because San Antonio is behind the curve.

Summing up, by maintaining the status quo with the Duncan/Ginobili/Parker core, and declining to make any big moves to shake up the roster, the Spurs are merely delaying the inevitable. Or, as a poster in at RealGM recently put it, after an avalanche of praise about how the Spurs have been proving people over the last five years: They’ve proven people wrong by…not winning any championships?

It’s a fair point, albeit one I don’t necessarily subscribe to. I’m more in line with , who recently argued that standing pat was the only logical choice for the Spurs considering how close they were to reaching the Finals and how little opportunity they had to improve significantly. As he wrote:

…standing pat by re-signing Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw, Danny Green and Patty Mills was the only sensible path for San Antonio this summer, especially because it still leaves them able to work the trade market and carve out max-level cap room over the next two summers if they want.

That’s a very, very safe play, the equivalent of check-calling in poker with a small pot and a good, but not great, hand. Get a reasonably full season out of Ginobili, Tony Parker shows no ill effects from his eye injury, Duncan doesn’t decline too much and youngsters like Green, Mills and Kawhi Leonard continue to improve, and it’s not unreasonable to imagine the Spurs competing for another title.

That said, it must be acknowledged what a fine line the Spurs walk by relying so heavily on two players on the wrong half of their 30s. Indeed, just look at how many circumstances are going to have to go right for them — and that doesn’t even account for the possibility that the Thunder, Lakers and Heat will all be simply better.

If you want an idea at what could happen in the coming years, look no further than Larry Bird’s Celtics dynasty, which didn’t go out with a bang as much as it died on the vine like an overripe piece of fruit.  Again, observers have been expecting such a fate for years, and the Spurs have staved it off masterfully.

But, as Murphy points out, that still hasn’t been enough.

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