October 23, 2013

NBA 2013-2014: Best offseason moves - #13 San Antonio Spurs

At last, it's time to start talking basketball again. With the NBA's opening night coming in six days (Heat vs. Bulls, Clippers vs. Lakers) I'll be giving out my best offseason moves in a different format than last year. I'm ranking the thirteen teams I believe made the best roster changes for the 2013-2014 season, all the way up to opening night, starting with #13: the San Antonio Spurs.

I was adamant about the Spurs being the best team (by far) the Miami Heat would face in last season's playoffs. Not one team the defending champs faced in the Eastern Conference (including Indiana) possessed the talent, depth, or overall discipline to convince me of a formidable resistance. I believed it so much that I picked the Spurs to win the NBA Finals in seven games, and came an offensive rebound in Game 6 and a Tim Duncan chippy in Game 7 away from calling it right.

The only notable roster move made by Gregg Popovich and the Spurs was acquiring guard Marco Bellinelli from the Chicago Bulls as an unrestricted free agent, signing the Italian to a two-year, reportedly $6 million deal. This may not be blockbuster, but if you know the Spurs, it's really a match made in European heaven. The Spurs are known for their recruitment and development of European players; 27-year-old Bellinelli will fit in with that style of play instantly, and this move can be beneficial from a personnel standpoint. Manu Ginobili's seeming decline in the NBA Finals may have to be compensated for, some say by Kawhi Leonard, but the key to the Spurs reaching the Finals again will be sustaining health and their consistent depth. Bellinelli brings another scoring threat into the rotation with the loss of Gary Neal to Milwaukee, and perhaps more hair-grabbing for Popovich, as Bellinelli can often exude similarly sporadic tendencies as Ginobili. But for the Spurs to find themselves back in the Finals next June, they will need plenty of sporadic.

Bellinelli is currently averaging 14.1 PPG for Italy at EuroBasket 2013.

- Martin S. @marley_mcfly

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