Popovich says don't leave Spurs out of title mix


gpopovich.jpgThe Spurs won 50 games last season, something you barely noticed because it’s expected of them, and they should be better this season. Tony Parker should be healthy, George Hill’s game should take another stride forward, Tiago Splitter will be a boost.

Yet you do not hear “San Antonio Spurs, Western Conference contenders.” In part because it’s hard to put any name but “Los Angeles Lakers” in that sentence, but in part because people are looking past the Spurs.

In a conversation with reporters today, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says the Spurs should be in that conversation. Here are some tweets from Jeff McDonald, San Antonio News Express Spurs reporter.

More Pop on offseason: “We think they have the potential to be fantastic – and fantastic means have an opportunity to win a championship.”

Pop worked out RJ individually this summer: “His dedication and development are going to be one of the most important things for our success

Pop on Tim Duncan’s shape: “I think he’s even slimmer than he was last year. He’s serious about this.”

Pop on Splitter: “He’s a really, solid player who’s going to have a great NBA career, but he’s not going to lead us in scoring.”

I am high on Tiago Splitter, but with this roster he should not be leading them in scoring, or anywhere close. Around 7 points a game, 8 or more rebounds, solid defense and just some smart play and he’ll be an upgrade for them as a guy they can stick along side Tim Duncan on the front line.

And Popovich is right, Richard Jefferson will be a key. But winning a championship… well he kind of have to say that right now, doesn’t he? Doesn’t mean we have to believe it either. But they will be good, and overlooked.

Report: Some Hawks executives doubt Danny Ferry’s contrition

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Since his racist comments about Luol Deng, Danny Ferry has mostly avoided the public eye.

He apologized through a couple statements released around the beginning of his leave of absence. He met with black community leaders. He claimed “full responsibility.”

A cadre of NBA people vouched for him. A law firm the Hawks hired to investigate themselves essentially cleared of him of being motivated by racial bias.

But there’s another side.

Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Ferry’s efforts at contrition sometimes fell short to some inside the organization. Several Hawks executives were at times put off by Ferry’s behavior during a compulsory two-day sensitive training session, especially since they considered his actions triggered the assembly in the first place. He came across as inattentive and dismissive of the exercise, some said, and fiddled with his phone quite a bit. Ferry contends he was taking notes on the meeting.

“It was awkward for everyone because I had not seen or been around Hawks employees for three months,” Ferry told ESPN this summer about the sensitivity training. “I took the seminar seriously, participated in the role-play exercises and certainly learned from the two-day session.”

the Hawks satisfied Ferry on June 22 by releasing both the written Taylor report and a flowery press release in which Hawks CEO Koonin was quoted saying, among other things, that “Danny Ferry is not a racist.” Some Hawks executives grumbled that the team overreached in exonerating Ferry, but doing so — not to mention paying Ferry significantly more than the $9 million he was owed on his “golden ticket” deal — was the cost of moving on.

I don’t know whether Ferry has shown the proper level of contrition, whether he was playing on his phone or taking notes.

But I know what he said:

“He’s a good guy overall, but he’s got some African in him, and I don’t say that in a bad way other than he’s a guy that may be making side deals behind you, if that makes sense. He has a storefront out front that’s beautiful and great, but he may be selling some counterfeit stuff behind you.”

He was not reading directly from a scouting report. He did not stop when his paraphrasing repeated a racist trope.

That’s a problem.

I don’t think Ferry intended to say something racist – but he did.

It’s a fixable issue, though. Through introspection and a desire to change, he can learn from this mistake. Maybe he already has.

That some around him don’t think he took that process seriously is worth noting. They might be off base, and Ferry obviously disagrees with their perception. But this is a two-sided story despite the common narrative focusing on Ferry’s redemption.

It’ll be up to any potential future employers to sort through the discrepancies.

Gilbert Arenas: Caron Butler’s version of gun incident ‘false’

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Caron Butler recently detailed the Gilbert Arenas-Javaris Crittenton gun incident.

In a since-deleted – but screenshot-captured – Instagram post, Arenas gives his description:

The biggest differences between Butler’s and Arenas’ versions:

1. Arenas claims he wasn’t the one who owed Crittenton money, that the feud escalated over Arenas prematurely showing his hand during a card game.

2. Arenas says he told Crittenton to pick a gun to shoot Arenas with – not to pick a gun he’d get shot by Arenas with.