The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Basketball News

ESPN is reporting that the Spurs have come to contract terms with a big man from Argentina. Except he's not named Luis Scola. Yup, it seems Argentine center Fabrico Oberto is the newest Spur:

The Spurs have come to an agreement in principle with Argentinean center Fabrico Oberto, according to his agent, Herb Rudoy.

Oberto, who averaged 14.2 ppg and 7.3 rpg for Parmesa in Spain this season, is widely regarded as one of the top five players in Europe.

He was the team captain of the Argentina team that defeated Team USA at the 2002 World Championships. He dropped 28 points on Yugoslavia's Vlade Divac in the finale of that tournament.

Oberto is a warrior in the paint with polished moves around the post. He's a good scorer, rebounder and defender who has the toughness and aggressiveness to be an excellent role player in the league. He's also a great passer in the post and frequently draws comparisons to Divac on that skill. Don't be surprised if he is the Spurs starting center on opening night.

Oberto has been hotly pursued by NBA teams for years but has never shown much interest in the past. He's one of the highest paid players in Europe and has been content to be a star over there.

The fact that he turns thirty this year, is considered a little undersized to play center in the NBA (he's barely 6-10 in shoes) and has the free throw touch of Shaq (45 percent from the line) has hurt his free agent stock in the past two years.

The move by the Spurs means that it's unlikely they will bring over their other Argentinean big man, Luis Scola, this season. The Spurs drafted Scola in the second round of the 2002 NBA Draft, but have been unable to bring him over because of an enormous buyout provision with his team Tau Ceramica.

Man, talk about the ol' switcheroo. Everyone's been talking about Scola, and then the Spurs just happen to sign the other Argentine big man who is also considered to a top-5 player in Europe. The Spurs are running circles around the league right now, personnel-wise.

Which brings me to a question I've been thinking about for the last couple of weeks- if you took the Spurs starting 5 (I'm including Rasho in this group) and kept Horry, Barry, Brown, Udrih, and Mohammed, would the talent level of the Spurs drop precipitously if they just added the five best players not named Manu from the Argentine National Basketball team? I mean that's Scola and Oberto plus three more.

One, wouldn't this lock up the Latin American market for the Spurs? A great business investment. Two, doesn't this please the fan base unbelievably? 40% of the team would speak fluent Spanish. Finally, this means we've got one (Rasho or Nazr, whichever you least like) or maybe more tradeable players to bring in a better team with.

In other news, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak in his continuing desire to give Phil Jackson the "I've got no talent to work with here" cop out has decided to trade Caron Butler and one player to be named later (Devean George or Chucky Atkins) to the Washington Wizards for Kwame Brown, the underachieving no. 1 pick of the 2001 NBA draft. One of two things is going to happen in the next couple of years for the Lakers- either they're just gonna implode, or Kobe really is gonna become the next Michael Jordan and Phil's going to finally earn his title of Best. Coach. Ever. If I'm a betting man (and I am) I'd put oodles of money on the former.