As we play out the final days of the 2011-'12 NBA regular season, we take a look at each franchise. Who emerged, what went wrong, what lies ahead. A look at post season chances, long term potential and upgrades possible in this summer's NBA draft. We continue in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference with the San Antonio Spurs.
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With the Southwest title in hand and clinching the number one seed in the West, this regular season resembles last year. With a shortened regular season, jammed with games, San Antonio has periodically rested their veterans. If the Spurs can get through the first round, where they will be heavy favorites, a second round matchup against Memphis or one of the Los Angeles teams looms. Not a nice gift for winning the West.
The Spurs are just under $10 million dollars under the cap. San Antonio also holds a traded player exemption (George Hill) worth just over $1 million bucks.
San Antonio traded their number one draft pick to Golden State, dumping Richard Jefferson's contract along the way. With the uncertainty of Duncan and Blair's balky knees, the Spurs would be best served grabbing the best center available at the end of the second round.
Ginobili and Parker are the only contracts worthy of amnesty, but barring major injuries, don't plan on the Spurs cutting out the heart of their team.
The Good: The Spurs rested the big three throughout the season, hoping to avoid a repeat of the second season a year ago. Duncan has had a solid season, looking like he did three or four seasons ago. Ginobili's legs should be rested after sitting out much of the season and Parker remains as good as they come at the point in the West. Gary Neal and Steven Jackson provide scoring punch off the bench while Splitter, Blair, Bonner and Leonard providing complimentary skills in support of Duncan.
The Bad: The big three, Duncan, Parker and Ginobili are another year older, but appear in position to give one more run. A year ago, after storming through the regular season, they were unceremoniously bounced by the Grizzlies. Duncan's contract expires this season and it's not known how much longer Blair's knees are going to hold up. The draft won't be much help with a single pick at the end of the proceedings. Enough cap room exists to bring back Duncan and Diaw and hopefully Anderson and/or Green for the perimeter.
The Spurs have nine players under contract for next season, with the big decision whether to bring back Tim Duncan. The future Hall of Fame big man is enjoying a comeback season of sorts and has been given rest for the post season. Boris Diaw might be a nice versatile piece to try and retain along with young swing men James Anderson and Daniel Green. Patrick Mills is an option if the Spurs opt for three point guards. DeJuan Blair and Gary Neal's deals are not guaranteed, but when you can keep both for under $2 million, its a no brainer.
Why read boxscores when you can find out everything that happened in Howard Bender's nightly Fantasy Baseball Roundup
Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Jackson
Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Cory Joseph, Gary Neal
Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw, James Anderson, Danny Green, Patrick Mills
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Tom Blaz is a writer for Fantasy Alarm and co-owner of The Recruiting Eagle a website focusing on Auburn University Athletics.
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