Wednesday night, the San Antonio Spurs pulled a trigger on a trade that made Spurs fans go nuts in exuberance. They traded Francisco Elson, fan favorite Brent Barry and a 2009 first round draft pick to Seattle in exchange for the Sonics’ Kurt Thomas. Every Spurs fan knows exactly why this trade is gold for their team. And if you don’t understand yet, allow yours truly to break it down for you in his own little sequence.
The Spurs needed some size and bulk. They needed a guy to stand alongside with Tim Duncan to play defense. Fabricio Oberto doesn’t get the job done throughout the whole game, so you need another guy to come in and pitch a few bumps in the post. (Elson clearly wasn’t working out in the long haul, and the Spurs needed to make a mov.) The Spurs have won two of four titles without a tremendous Center. With Thomas’s added toughness, the Spurs gained a profound identity in Bad-2-Da-Bone.
Furthermore, did you happen to watch the Suns/Spurs series last May? (If you didn’t, I fully support your wishes to have sat in the corner and pouted as San Antonio rolled to a championship.) When Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were suspended for leaving their benches and walking out onto the court during a big rigmarole, Kurt Thomas stepped in and played exceptional against Tim Duncan by scoring 15 and bringing down 12 rebounds. If he can do it against Timmy, he can do it against the rest of the Western Conference alongside Timmeh’.
I’m ready to eliminate the Mavs from title contention already, mostly because they don’t have a big man to contend with San Antonio, Phoenix or Los Angeles’s big man duo. And I’m going to go ahead and roll the dice on who I think has the best big man duo in the Western Conference from the trades of those three teams I just listed. (San Antonio, Phoenix, Los Angeles.)
San Antonio: Tim Duncan/Kurt Thomas
Phoenix: Amare Stoudemire: Shaquille O’Neal
Los Angeles: Pau Gasol/Andrew Bynum
If I’m a betting man, I go with — if healthy — the San Antonio Spurs when playoffs roll around. For Phoenix, it’s not like they still can’t play defense is it? Actually, they still can’t, and it doesn’t matter if they have O’Neal or not. The playoffs are two months away, and if they want to be in the Finals, that’d be roughly around four months. Do you know how much wear and tear that’d be on Shaq’s decimated body? There would be hell to pay for Shaq. Not to mention, they can’t stop Kobe Bryant, and the Lakers have weapons now to counter any more Suns playoff victories.
But the fact of the matter is, the Spurs CAN stop Kobe in a best of 7 playoff series. It’s just that simple. The Lakers are a team that nobody wants to reckon with this year and they’re out looking for a playoff series win. Now, nobody knows who in the hell they or anyone else will be playing by the time the post season starts because teams Win/Loss records are so scattered, but if they match up with San Antonio, two things will be a factor: 1.) With Bynum back, can he bode well against Tim Duncan and Kurt Thomas in the low post? And 2.) Can Kobe exemplify a higher power in the playoffs that his critics have never seen before?
I’ll believe it when I see it. This saves me a Western Conference preview. Whew. As for now, you know my Finals pick, the Spurs.