Spurs Dynasty: The Fall of a Champion

Will the Spurs Dynasty fall? Or will they regroup fast enough to make the NBA playoffs?

By Jon Armstrong

June 15, 2014. NBA Finals. Game 5. The roar of over 18,000 fans filled the AT&T center in San Antonio Texas. The Spurs had just overcome a blistering hot start by Lebron James in order to claim their fifth title in fifteen years. Before the series began, many critics believed the San Antonio Spurs window to win championships was closing.

Their core of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker appeared to be on the back end of their careers. But after the series, the demise of the most consistent franchise of the 2000s seemed impossible. Kawhi Leonard, who had just become the youngest finals MVP since 1999, appeared to be more than ready to lead the franchise into its next era.

The 2017 Playoffs

May 14, 2017. Western Conference Finals Game 1. For the first time in three years, the Spurs made it to the Western Conference finals, facing off against the Golden State Warriors in a highly anticipated matchup.

To the surprise of many, the Spurs opened the game in dominating fashion, building over a twenty-point lead in the first half. The Warriors appeared to have no answer for Leonard as he scored his average by the middle of the third quarter.

Disaster Strikes the Spurs Dynasty Hopes

Then, as many NBA fans might remember, Leonard’s playoff run came to an end at the hands of Zaza Pachulia. The Leonard injury sealed the Spurs fate. The Warriors went on to sweep the Spurs in all four games.

Little did people know that Leonard would never play meaningful minutes for the Spurs again.

September 30, 2017. Following the team’s pre-season intrasquad game, head coach Greg Popovich revealed to the media that Leonard had sustained an injury to his quads.

The dispute that ensued between Leonard and the Spurs front office as a result of the injury eventually led to Leonard demanding a trade in June of 2018.

Leonard Demands a Trade

July 18, 2018. The Spurs sent Leonard and shooting guard Danny Green to Toronto for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poetle, and a draft pick.

The Leonard/Green trade combined with the departures of veterans Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker signified the end of what at once seemed an unbeatable dynasty.

Could the Spurs Dynasty Collapse?

It appeared that the Spurs had every move planned out. Leonard seemed like he was the perfect fit for San Antonio. His quiet demeanor gave many people flashbacks of Tim Duncan.

The transition from Robinson to Duncan went smoothly. Many people thought the Duncan to Leonard change-of-the-guard would go according to plan like the Robinson transition. The plan ultimately failed, leaving the Spurs scrambling to come up with a back-up plan.

If the Kawhi trade proves anything, Nothing in today’s NBA is certain. Loyalty does not exist. Your team’s best player could be suiting up for a rival as soon as next season. But one thing is certain in San Antonio. If the Spurs want to continue to avoid mediocrity as they have for the past fifteen years, they need to choose their direction fast.

Where are They Headed?

The Spurs are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in over twenty years. Although leading scorers LaMarcus Aldridge and Demar DeRozan are capable NBA players, those two alone are not enough for the Spurs to compete in the West.

This offseason will be a critical time for the Spurs. Do the Spurs try to tank for a superstar as they did for Tim Duncan? This option would probably mean they ship DeRozan and or Aldridge for draft picks or young assets. Or do they try to land a big free agent to play alongside Aldridge and DeRozan?

Also, What will Pop’s future with the team hold for the Spurs Dynasty? Get your popcorn ready, because it should be a fun couple of months in San Antonio.

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