In the second edition of In the Bonus, the staff looks at the summer's blockbusters, picks the best free agent move, and considers the complacency question.
1) Are there any moves you wish the Spurs would have made in the off-season?
Michael Erler: The obvious one is Pau Gasol of course, and to the Spurs credit they tried to get him. They just couldn't offer more than the mid-level, so their hands were tied. Besides that there wasn't anyone I really pined for, so I guess I'm good. It kinda sucks they have that lead anchor of that Duncan guy's contract for another year though. I mean talk about overpaid.
Taylor Young: I love the continuity the Spurs have going into next season, though I think they needed to get a backup small forward. They don't have one and if they have another regular season of injuries like last year, the Spurs are left with Danny Green, Marco Belinelli and Manu Ginobili trying to share the responsibilities.
J. Gomez: Shawn Marion was intriguing. So was Al-Farouq Aminu. But in all honesty, I'm completely fine with the Spurs just bringing back everyone. Even if Baynes bails for more money in Europe, I think this was a great off-season.
Bruno Passos: In a summer where Ben Gordon gets $9 million for two years, I look at the deals struck with Patty and Boris and happily submit to our genius overlords in the Spurs front office. Aside from having LeBron James play the league like it's NBA2K, it's hard to wish for more than what PATFO have done.
J.R. Wilco: Just about the time I finally believed that Pau Gasol might be a possibility, he chose more playing time with Chicago, making the Bulls a serious contender in the East. Aside from that, everything I could wish for the Spurs happened. It was pretty cool just watching as one piece of good free-agent news followed another.
2) True or False: Having the entire Spurs team back next year will bring about complacency instead of hunger.
Erler: False but only because the Spurs are so deep and the minutes are rationed to such an extreme that I think Pop and the coaching staff will make it clear to anyone they see loafing that they can just have a seat and someone hungrier can be on the floor. The only danger would be if Pop himself is disinterested, but thankfully I think the new blood on the coaching staff will prevent that from happening and everyone will be engaged. I think Parker in particular will be focused on having a "bounce back" kind of season after an individual down year for him and the team as a whole will be motivated to do something the Spurs have never done before, which is repeating. As usual LeBron James will draw the eyeballs away from them, which will work to the Spurs' advantage.
Young: Tralse. Can I say that? False because this is the most gelled and best group in Tim Duncan's era. They've played incredible basketball for three straight seasons and everyone is improving. After pillaging the villages in the playoffs, why shouldn't I assume that they will do it again? Especially with a weaker team. But, I say True because the Spurs have never repeated before and they had the world's best bulletin board material in 2014. I just question how bad the big three will want it. Though I should stop questioning them after all these years. They make me look dumb time and time again.
Gomez: False. There's always a risk that the role players will grow complacent after the ultimate achievement. But when 38-year-old Tim Duncan is there to lead the way, that's not likely. Also, Manu and Tony didn't play this summer, so they will be chomping at the bit to compete. I'm not worried about complacency.
Passos: False. Kawhi's drive to improve, the possibility of this (really) being the end of the line, and the team's unique chemistry -- both on and off the court -- leave me confident that complacency won't be an issue.
Wilco: False. No team coached by Popovich and headed by Duncan, Parker and Ginobili will ever struggle with complacency. But there are levels of motivation, and last year was an example of extreme focus for the Spurs. Whether they'll be able to attain that again will be one of the main things to watch this season.
3) With the basketball world cup approaching, who is your X factor for team USA?
Erler: Their best threat who's taller than 6'7" besides Anthony Davis.
Young: DeMarcus 'Boogie' Cousins will be essential to scoring on a Spanish front three of Serge Ibaka and the Gasol Hermanos.
Gomez: I'm not going to be original here: Anthony Davis. Team USA has the best perimeter players in the tournament and it's not even close. But inside, there are a couple of teams -- Spain, in particular -- that can cause them trouble. Cousins and Drummond are fantastic talents but they are not disciplined enough on defense. And Plumlee is but is extremely limited in the other aspects of the game. So the onus will be on Davis to control the paint.
Passos: LeBron? Durant? LaMarcus Aldridge? (Checking current Team USA roster... wow, a Plumlee!) With a young squad like this, the guy who can push the pace and still run the show in the half court would seem to have a lot riding on him. I'll go with Stephen Curry, who should be able to do both while stretching defenses with fellow Splash Bro Klay Thompson.
Wilco: I like Stephen Curry to use his speed and long-distance bombing to get the US a ton of easy points. If he's not hot, then Davis.
4) With the Minnesota Timberwolves now sporting Andrew Wiggins, Zach Lavine, Thad Young, Anthony Bennett and Ricky Rubio, are they about to gear up for a Spurs-like multiyear reign? Or are they always going to be the T Puppies?
Michael Erler: I refuse to dignify this with a response.
Young: Sometimes franchises are flat doomed. I once bet a roommate that the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Bucks would NEVER win championships. I wouldn't make that bet against these Wolves. I think these dogs will learn to hunt.
Gomez: You -- and everyone else, apparently -- are forgetting Nikola Pekovic. Pekovic has an onerous long term contract in the books that would be hard to move. And he is great in some areas but sub-par at protecting the rim and securing defensive rebounds. If Pek can improve in those areas, the Wolves should push for the playoffs this season and have a bright future as the youngsters develop. If he doesn't, they will need to make numerous moves to be a threat in the West.
Passos: Can the answer be somewhere in between? You have to like the haul they got for Love -- especially when compared to what teams like New Orleans have gotten back for their disgruntled superstars. However, Wiggins remains a lottery ticket at this point in my eyes; questions abound with Bennett; Lavine's biggest headlines still revolve around his draft-day F bomb; and Young, while solid, should never be your team's best offensive player. They will make for good League Pass viewing, though, and should be competitive in the coming years.
Wilco: They can gear up all they want, but there's so much youth on their roster that anyone who says they know what Minnesota is capable of has too much confidence in their forecasting skills. The first thing I need to see is Rubio learning to make a jumper at something approaching league average. Once he does that, then we can talk about what the Wolves are capable of doing.
5) What summer blockbuster reminded you most of the Spurs?
Erler: Guardians of the Galaxy. It was a lot better than expected, it involved a lot of mismatched parts, they were all from distant lands and in the end they prevailed because they worked as a team. I'd love to see Pop conduct every sideline interview next season by answering "I am Pop," to every question.
Young: Boyhood. Richard Linklater's new movie doesn't remind me of the Spurs players, but of the Spurs being a part of my childhood. A lot of people's childhood for that matter. It's filmed over 12 years and shows glimpses into a boy's life. A lot of the memories are small ones. If you made my childhood into a movie, a few of those scenes would be Spurs related. Their longevity has stretched most of my childhood and more. If that's not an acceptable answer than I'll say Boyhood again because it reminded me of Tony Parker and watching him grow up. The Lakers would be Hercules. A flop.
Gomez: Guardians of the Galaxy, of course. A group of unlikely heroes everyone discounts because there are other more famous personalities in that universe but who succeed in the end? That's the Spurs and the NBA. (And yes, Tiago would be Gamora).
Passos: Surely there's an Expendables joke in here -- where are our Photoshop whizzes when you need them?
Wilco: The Grand Budapest Hotel: the celebration of the end of an era while reliving it through a series of bookends so evocative that it feels real even while being farcical. Yeah, Wes Anderson has a lot in common with the Spurs.
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