As if the Summer of Spurs could get any more spectacular, GM R.C. Buford may have just made his biggest coup of all in a first week of July that's already seen its share of fireworks in San Antonio, agreeing to a deal with free agent forward David West for the veteran minimum, according to NBA.com's David Aldrdige.
In the span of six days, the Spurs retained Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green while adding LaMarcus Aldridge and West to a team that won the NBA championship just 13 months ago.
Keep in mind, the Spurs came within one regular-season of earning the No. 2 seed in the West and one postseason basket of knocking off the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round and moving on this season.
Quite simply, the Spurs just established themselves as clear favorites for the 2015-16 NBA title, which would mean a sixth ring for both Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and nine members of the 1960s Celtics dynasty are the only players to have won six championships with a single team, while only Red Auerbach and Phil Jackson have captured more than five championships as a coach.
The opportunity for his first ring was clearly a draw for West, who declined a $12.6 million option to play for the Indiana Pacers this coming season to instead sign the $1.5 million veteran minimum in San Antonio. While both Leonard and Aldridge agreed to max contracts, Duncan, Ginobili and Green all returned for less than market value — already a remarkable return for Buford. And then there's West, who for sure set fire to $11.1 million and possibly more with a less competitive team to take his considerable talent to Texas.
West, 34, is no longer the player he once was when earning two straight All-Star bids late last decade, but he still averaged a respectable 11.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 28.7 minutes for the Pacers in 2014-15. West was considered a backup plan had the Spurs whiffed on luring Aldridge from Portland.
Instead, the 12-year veteran bolsters a frontcourt that features a former MVP (Duncan), the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and 2014 NBA Finals MVP (Leonard), a three-time returning All-NBA forward (Aldridge) and an erstwhile Most Improved Player (Boris Diaw). Not to mention a backcourt that includes the 2006-07 NBA Finals MVP and (Tony Parker) and a t the 2007-08 Sixth Man of the Year (Ginobili).
Oh, and let's not forget Popovich is the best coach in the league. There is loaded, and then there is the Western Conference's Southwest Division. And then there's the 2015-16 San Antonio Spurs. Yikes.
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