The Southwest Never Lets Up

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Published: June 23, 2009

The Spurs have made the first move in the Southwestern Arms Race.

ESPN.com is reporting that the Spurs have traded Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto and Kurt Thomas to the Bucks for Richard Jefferson.

R.C. Buford and Greg Popovich continue to impress, as they always have.  They spent the last half-dozen years building a team around a trio of high level players while filling in around the edges with smaller contracts. 

This time, they put together a classic “Buy Low” transaction.  Jefferson’s reputation hit its zenith during the Nets two runs to the Finals under Byron Scott, but then he was part of the Olympic Debacle in Athens – and caught a fair amount of blame because he was supposed to be a shooter – and didn’t shoot worth a bean curd.  Since then, he got an over-sized contract, had some injury problems and caught a lot of the blame for the Nets not being able to do jack.

Here’s the rub though – remember that list of Class-A scorers I put together?

Jefferson is on it.

Jefferson took 15 shots a game, while still producing 1.32 points per shot, and I can’t see how that efficiency won’t do anything but increase playing with the big trio of Spurs. Now, other than scoring, Jefferson’s doesn’t give you much, and the Spurs now sport a big man rotation of a slowly-breaking-down Tim Duncan, limited Matt Bonner, and unproven Ian Mahinmi, but there is a lot to love in this trade if you are a Spurs fan.

Matt Bonner is hyper efficient with his shooting – Duncan and Ginobili are already Class A Scorers, and Parker is a solid B.  If the Spurs re-sign Drew Gooden as a back-up big to join Roger Mason and George Hill in an effective eight-man rotation they should scare every team out there.  Their defense may slip a little (though not too much with Popovich at the controls) but their offense is going to more than make up for it.

The Spurs have made their move.  I fully expect to see the Rockets make one of their own with McGrady this summer.  The Mavericks are definitely going to try and make a move.(though I expect little) The Southwest Division is just a nasty place – particularly for a team struggling with some cap issues.

At least we always have the Grizzlies.

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