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While everyone was sitting down waiting to hear where LeBron was going to go, what Melo was going to do, there was one franchise that couldn’t care less.
The San Antonio Spurs were focussed on keeping their roster basically exactly the same as it was in 2013–2014. Why? Why wouldn’t they! It was that exact roster which they have locked down for the 2015 season that tore the rest of the NBA apart. They’re the ones who beat LeBron and the Heat by 70 points in five Finals games.
Put it this way: would you rather have a team with LeBron adapting to a new group of players, or a team that just beat LeBron by a total of 70 points in five NBA Finals games? The Spurs epitomise the underrated story of the 2014 NBA free-agent fest, which is that retaining is the new improving.
Yes, LeBron altered the landscape in the East while making a move that will bolster the financial value of the Cavaliers and the psyche of the city. It was transformative. The Spurs did not transform, and that was the point. They stuck with what works, similar to last off-season when they brought back Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter. If other teams want to model themselves after San Antonio, they can start with that.
The Rockets were the biggest victims of the lack of appetite for movement by the likes of Carmelo and Bosh, but their summer isn’t as disastrous as it’s been made out to be. Yes, they wound up trading Jeremy Lin, Ömer Aşık and Omri Casspi without maximising the salary-cap space they received in exchange. They lost Chandler Parsons after they passed on the chance to bring him back for less than $1 million next season. But they still have two All-Stars in Dwight Howard and James Harden. They still average out to a high grade if you factor in the previous two seasons.
But this year, they failed to get players to come to them, when it turned out many players were more inclined to stay where they are. The Rockets’ wheeling-dealing ways were then. The Spurs, who seemed so long ago, are now.
So who’s laughing now? The team that tore apart the NBA and routed the Heat in five games in the Finals and claimed their fifth NBA title? Probably, I’d say: expect nothing to change with the Spurs when the NBA season kicks off in about 100 days, as they should be the favourites to go back to back.
But please #Miami