Tiago Splitter is officially a Spur, and you don't realize how big this is


Thumbnail image for Tsplitter.jpgYou know what deal Western Conference executives have been raving about this week in Vegas?

Tiago Splitter to the Spurs. A deal that became official now and at an incredible price of three years for $11 million. Splitter clearly wants to be here as a he took a paycut to leave Saski Baskonia, the team he just led to the Spanish League title.

Splitter is the best center in Europe right now (or was, technically). He is 6’11”, skilled but physical as well. The 25-year-old Brazilian is the entire package. Look for Antonio McDyess to remain the starter at first, but Splitter may push him out of that role later in the season, once he learns the system.

His game may look familiar to Spurs fans — he says he has been watching and trying to copy Tim Duncan for many years. If there is one thing Splitter can do, it’s help Gregg Popovich keep Duncan’s minutes down through the course of the regular season. Keeping him fresh for when it matters, and a fresh and healthy Spurs team in the playoffs could be dangerous.

Splitter was drafted in 2007, but was pretty ticked when he was drafted, he admitted to the San Antonio Express News. Not because the Spurs drafted him, but because he had been led to believe by his advisors that he would go in the top 10, not drop all the way down to the Spurs closer to the end of the first round.

So he stayed in Europe for three more years, meaning the time of what would have been his first rookie deal ran out and the Spurs were allowed to pay him more.

“I realize where you have the opportunity to be — on a team that is international and a team that won titles with such good players, Manu (Ginobili) and Tim Duncan and Tony Parker,” Splitter said. “Then I realized that I’m in good hands, and the team who had my rights was great for me.”

Do not sleep on San Antonio next season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo to tell his story on 60 Minutes this week (preview clip)

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Giannis Antetokounmpo grew up hocking wares — clothes, sunglasses, whatever — on the streets of Athens, Greece. He easily could still be living there, the tallest salesman in a poor part of a country with high unemployment and real challenges.

Instead, he is a multimillionaire living comfortably in the United States, and is one of the 10 best basketball players in the world — and still improving. In a few years we may well be saying he is the best player on the planet.

Antetokounmpo will be telling his story on the legendary television news magazine 60 Minutes this week, and the show released a clip. Check it out.

This is the best missed free throw to game winner you will ever see

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We’ve all seen this situation before at every level of basketball: A team down three points gets fouled in the final seconds and has two free throws, so the shooter aims to make the first free throw then miss the second and create a rebound he or a teammate can grab then throw back in to tie the game. It works about as often as an NFL Hail Mary — either the shooter makes the shot anyway or the defense gets the board — but what other choice is there?

Nobody has ever pulled it off as well as Paulinho Boracini of the Brazilian league team Cearense.

Intentional or not (and I lean not), he banked the second free throw off the rim toward the corner, ran it down himself and hit the game-winning three.

Damn. That’s impressive.

(If Boracini and Cearense sound familiar, you win the award for “watching too much Knicks preseason basketball” because they played New York in a 2015 exhibition.)

Giannis Antetokounmpo doubtful with ankle injury for Bulls game

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MILWAUKEE (AP) The Milwaukee Bucks say Giannis Antetokounmpo is doubtful for Friday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls with a sprained right ankle.

The All-Star forward got hurt in the second quarter of a 127-120 loss on Wednesday to the Los Angeles Clippers when he appeared to trip over teammate Shabazz Muhammad under the Bucks’ basket.

Antetokounmpo is fourth in the league in scoring at 27.3 points a game.


Anfernee Simons declares for NBA draft straight out of high school (kind of)

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Anfernee Simons spent the last year playing high school basketball. But because he did so as a fifth-year prep after technically graduating from high school last year and turns 19 in June, he’s eligible for the NBA draft.

Following a path taken by Thon Maker and considered by Jonathan Isaac, Simons – as expected – is turning pro.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

Anfernee Simons will forgo his collegiate eligibility and declare for the 2018 NBA draft, he informed ESPN.

Simons informed ESPN that he will sign with agent Bobby Petriella of Rosenhaus Sports Representation

Simons looks like a mid-first-rounder, though his range is quite wide considering how large of a jump he’s making. Teams can learn relatively more about him in workouts and interviews.

A 6-foot-4 shooting guard who specializes in scoring, Simons is quick on his feet with a quick release off the dribble – with range from beyond the 3-point arc to an impressive floater game. Those floaters will be important, because Simons isn’t nearly strong enough for the NBA. He’s also a lackluster passer, though because of physicality concerns, no team will count on Simons to run an offense anytime soon, anyway. He’ll have time to develop as a distributor.

By signing with agents, Simons loses his college eligibility. Drew Rosenhaus, a big-name football agent, isn’t certified with the National Basketball Players Association. Petriella’s only NBA client has been Diamond Stone, a 2016 second-rounder who’s out of the league. They’re all in this bold venture together now.

As the NBA considers changing its draft rules for young prospects, Simons will be an interesting case study. He obviously meets the draft-eligibility requirements in the one-and-done era, but he’s also jumping from prep-school competition to the NBA. The league’s strength and nutrition programs should serve him well. His overall development could influence the wider debate.