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Whats Next?: San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs find themselves in a position where they could solidify themselves as one of the best teams, coaches, and players in league history, if not all of sports.  The price they could possibly pay however could be the loss of a premier player(s).  If the Spurs are unfortunate enough to have to go through the disappointment of another Finals loss, it could propel them to even bigger and better things down the road.

If the San Antonio Spurs win the Championship: Going out on top?

The San Antonio Spurs know that if there is any team in the league that has a limited window, its them.  For veterans such as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli this may be their last chance to grab another championship.  Any of these 3 could potentially call it a career after the season.  If the San Antonio Spurs are able to win the NBA Championship, Tim Duncan could see his 5th ring as a signal for him to go out on top. 

While it is totally possibly that Duncan, as well as Parker and/or Ginobli could return, it is within reason they could walk away.  The Spurs return majority of their team next year, and have a flexible cap situation.  A team being looked at as a potential dynasty, they would be able to have their pick of free agents to add to emerging stars Kawhi Leonard Danny Green and Tiago Splitter.  

The biggest winner of another championship may be coach Gregg Popovich.  Winning a 5th championship would put him instantly into the conversation of the best coaches of all time, regardless the sport.  It would prove that all of the unconventional decisions and all that is "Pop" would be justified.

If the Spurs are able to win the Finals, this may be a period to simply take a step back and appreciate the chance to experience greatness.

If the San Antonio Spurs lose in the NBA Finals: Back to Business.

If the Spurs fail to defeat the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, it would be hard to expect any of their big 3 to walk away. The only players who are at risk to not return next year are Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner, and Patty Mills.  All 3 players could be easily replaced with the cap flexibility the Spurs are currently in. 

One would think it would be back to the drawing board in order for them to once again represent the Western Conference for a chance at a 5th ring.  The Spurs would hear nothing but how they are too old, and how their window has now closed.  All that would serve for is motivation for them to come back better than ever next season.  San Antonio could go into the offseason on a mission to go all in for one last title run before walking away.  By the time the 2014-15 season rolls around, the Spurs could come on the court knowing its finals or bust, and it could also be their last year together.

What's Next?: Miami Heat

The Miami Heat are four wins away from another NBA championship, completing a 3-peat.  The mission of the "Big 3" of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh would have been successful.  This year hasn't always been the smooth ride as previous seasons, and exposed flaws and problem areas on the team.  As always, winning would cure all problems, but potentially losing the series could spell the beginning of a lot of changes for the Miami Heat.

If the Miami Heat Win the Championship: Heat Reload

Winning this championship, especially combined with a Finals MVP would secure Lebron's place as one of the all-time top people to ever play in the NBA.  The only question for his place as best ever would only be before or after Jordan.  It would be hard to imagine Lebron leaving to go to another team, so odds are Heat fans would be seeing Lebron, Wade, and Bosh going after a 4th championship.  It could be possible that Wade could consider a pay cut for them to bring another impact player into the fold.  That would only add to the potential for the Heat to make big moves in the offseason.

Beyond the Big 3, the only guarantees to come to the team are Center Chris Andersen and PG Norris Cole.  This would enable Pat Riley to go into the offseason with substantial cap room to make significant moves.  Although this would be the first year he would have a cap situation such as this since the immediate acquisition of the Big 3, he would have a better idea of what fits the Miami team and how to get the most out of his moves.  A Heat team coming off a 3-peat should offer a premier destination for any free agent, making this a potential offseason for them to reload with many talented contributors for decent prices.  While the chemistry may not be exactly there at first, the 2014-15 version of the Heat would be just as scary or dangerous as any in recent years.

If the Miami Heat Lose the Championship: The Decision 2

If the Miami Heat fail to capture the 3-peat, Heat fans could be in for a summer they will soon wish to forget.  With player options for all members of the Big 3, any combination of them could decide to opt-out and test free agency, especially Lebron James.  With the fact that only Andersen and Cole being the only Heat players under contract for next year, James could decide to find another situation that gives him the best chance to reach the finals next year.  A summer after a failed Finals appearance could lead to another "Decision" by Lebron in which he decides if he could make it with a potentially new cast, or if he should take his talents elsewhere.  

Regardless of what he does, Dwayne Wade could call it a career if the heat lose to the Spurs.  A player that has cemented his place in history, Wade could opt  to remain with the Heat and finish his stellar career, or simply walk away now.  Chris Bosh has already stated his desire to remain with the Heat, so the shelves aren't fully bare in Miami.  Pat Riley has already shown that he can make moves when necessary, so in the event Lebron does leave he can use that money to reload on talent all around to improve the overall team.  While this may alleviate some of the pain on the court of losing Lebron, it would be hard for fans to take losing a player on James' level. 

Biggest Winners/Losers from NFL Offseason and Why

Winners: The biggest winners of the NFL offseason come from all types of cap situations, franchise stabilities, and overall team talent level.  What makes these teams winners is simply that they will go into the 2014 looking much better than they ended the 2013 season.  All of these teams accomplished specific goals, whether that be in free agency or in the draft.  Here are some of the top teams to come from the 2014 offseason and why.

1. Denver: Going all in for Peyton

The Denver Broncos were one game away from a Super Bowl victory, but that one game ended horribly.  The Broncos rebounded in the offseason by signing Aqib Talib and TJ Ward to help the secondary, joining Demarcus Ware to improve the defense.  They also brought in wideout Emmanuel Sanders to replace Eric Decker.  The secondary and wide receiver was also a point in the draft, taking CB Bradley Roby and WR Cody Latimer in the draft.  Denver knew exactly what they wanted to improve before next season, and did an excellent job of doing so.

2. Pittsburgh: Getting younger/more athletic

By the end of the 2013 season, it was clear that Pittsburgh had looked old and slow, and that reason alone may have been a big reason why they were watching the playoffs instead of playing in them.  Although they did not have much salary cap flexibility, they managed to get faster with signings such as Safety Mike Mitchell, and draft picks Dri Archer, Martavis Bryant, and Ryan Shazier.  All of the players the Steelers drafted or signed should be productive players next season, something that should qualify anybody as a winner.

3. San Francisco: Addressing and overcoming question marks before they became problems

The 49ers addressed various question marks, both on and off the field.  Off the field questions swirled around coach Harbaugh and his future due to issues with front office, QB Colin Kaepernick and his behavior in the wake of a story regarding a woman ending up in the hospital after a night with him, and linebacker Aldon Smith and his legal issues.  Despite all of these issues, San Francisco has managed to keep rolling and reloading.  The 49ers have plugged problem areas that may have been holes in a few years.  They have found Carlos Hyde to be a successor to Frank Gore, Jimmie Ward to take over for Dante Whitner, and acquire wideout Stevie Johnson from the Buffalo Bills...and this was just during the NFL Draft.  Between the draft and free agency, San Francisco could have potentially 11 productive players added. Those kind of numbers speaks for itself.

4. St. Louis: Taking the next step

After the NFL Draft, everybody was talking about the job that the St. Louis Rams did.  They may have produced the best defensive line in the league with the pick of Aaron Donald, but the better pick of the round could be offensive lineman Greg Robinson.  Adding RB Tre Mason and Michael Sam in later rounds were steals and could produce as rookies.  The Rams have set themselves up as a team that could be quite competitive really soon, and the draft was the night fans will look back to as the beginning. 

5. Oakland: Becoming respectable

The Raiders have long been considered the laughingstock of the NFL.  This offseason they may have changed that by making several moves to upgrade their team and despite not being a playoff team, being quite respectable and competitive. Granted, this team had a ton of salary cap space, but they made great use of it signing key players such as Maurice Jones-Drew, Justin Tuck, Matt Schaub, LeMarr Woodley.  This infusion of talent should help sustain a culture of respectability that should carry on to the next generation of Raiders.

Losers: Being a loser in the NFL Offseason can be the result of a couple things, whether losing somebody that wasn't replaced, ineffectiveness of available resources, or simply not doing enough to help the team.  Either way, these teams will go into the 2014 season already feeling like they have an uphill climb to get to where they want to be.

1. Dallas: Losing the face of their defense.

The Dallas Cowboys already had a horrible defense.  Their defense was so bad, that statistically they were one of the worst in NFL history.  They made matters worse by releasing the face of their defense in Demarcus Ware.  On top of that they did very little to upgrade any unit on the team because of salary cap situations.  All of this swirling around a QB coming off of back surgery does not spell good things for the Dallas Cowboys.

2. Philadelphia: Losing their game-breaker

I understand that Eagles fans are not exactly rioting in the streets about the loss of Desean Jackson...yet.  They are excited about what coach Chip Kelly can do with Darren Sproles and another year with this offense.  What fans are failing to realize is that Desean Jackson takes tops off of defenses in ways very few players in the NFL can do.  Without Jackson, the Eagles wideouts are fairly ordinary and unathletic compared to a unit with #10.  There will come plenty times where Eagles fans will say "Man I wish we still had Desean Jackson". 

3. Houston: Not addressing their biggest need

The Houston Texans came into the NFL offseason with one major need - Quarterback.  The Houston Texans will end the NFL offseason with one major need - Quarterback.  They had plenty of chances to acquire difference makers at QB, whether that be in the draft or free agency.  The best they could do is Ryan Fitzpatrick and 4th round draft pick Tom Savage.  Star Wideout Andre Johnson has already expressed his disappointment with management.  This team may have an elite defense, but that may not matter very much if the Texans offense has a hard time putting very many points on the board.

4. Carolina: Not replacing the heart of their team

One of the things that helped separate the Carolina Panthers from the rest of the pack was their heart, ruggedness, and grit they showed on a play by play basis.  Most of this attitude could be attributed to receiver Steve Smith, who the Panthers let go off this offseason.  That dogged attitude Smith shows consistently will be
missed almost as much as his production on the field.  The Panthers will be hard pressed to replace him as the top wide receiver, as well as the heart of the Carolina Panthers.  Carolina did draft Kelvin Benjamin to be their new go-to guy, but Cam Newton will find himself in a uphill climb to find the comfort zone he did last year.  This team as a whole was seen as overachievers, and the offseason actually halted the momentum they had hoped to carry into the 2014 season.

5. Kansas City: Not capitalizing on last year

Another team that failed to keep up the momentum of 2013 was the Kansas City Chiefs.  After a successful season, they fizzled out in the playoffs.  They went into the offseason hopeful to upgrade their team so 2014 could end in a better playoff run.  After a quiet free agency and an even quieter draft as far as impact players, this team may have actually gone back to the pack instead of creating separation.  The problem with an ineffective offseason is that although there is not very much negative attention to this team, it is hard to find much positive news going on either. This could be one of those teams who fail to make the playoffs, and this years offseason could be much to blame why this team is watching the playoffs on television instead of participating.