Remember how certain people were really hyping Tiago Splitter before the season as the big man the Spurs really needed to balance out the front line with Tim Duncan? Remember how people were saying he was going to be a difference maker for the Spurs this season?
Okay, that was me. I admit it. And we’ve seen flashes of that Splitter but mostly we’ve seen him sitting. He’s averaging just 11 minutes a game.
What happened? A fantastic post at Spurs blog 48 Minutes of Hell explains the litany of problems.
Remember that Splitter played deep into the European season last year then just straight into playing for Brazil for the World Championships. There he picked up a couple nagging injuries which he brought with him Spurs camp just a couple weeks after that. It was a lot of basketball.
Then came a strained right calf muscle a couple days into camp, which caused him to miss most of it.
“He had some things break down while he was in Europe and then he came here and had the problem with his calf,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said earlier in the season. “I think all in all, his body is probably just telling him to take a break. So we don’t want to bring him back and stick him out there for an inordinate amount of time.”
Missing camp really hurt because Splitter has never been really comfortable in the Spurs offense this season. He has to set a lot of picks but it’s about timing and placement, and Splitter is off in those departments compared to other bigs on the Spurs roster. Popovich has options
So he hasn’t gotten a lot of run, then combine that with how well the Spurs are playing and you have a coach not about to give him big minutes to learn on the job.
“I can’t just go and experiment and give him 30 minutes to get him going,” Coach Pop said. “It’s not fair to him or to the whole group. It’s just got to happen slowly and we’ll see what’s required as far as the team is concerned because that’s what I have to look at.”
Come the playoffs when the Spurs could face longer front lines — Lakers, we’re looking at you — Splitter could play a key role. But for now, his minutes will be limited as he figures it all out.
Through the first two weeks of training camp, the Pelicans have seen their frontcourt depth decimated by injuries to Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik, both of whom are out for a few weeks. A deal with Greg Smith fell through after he failed a physical. Now, Yahoo’s Marc Spears reports that they’re signing former Knicks and Nets center Jerome Jordan as a short-term solution:
Jordan has only played 65 games in his career and hasn’t been spectacular, but the Pelicans need a body while their two centers are out. Anthony Davis will spend some time at center, but considering the contracts Asik and Ajinca got this summer, Alvin Gentry clearly plans on playing him at power forward as well, and they need a center to at least fill time before Asik and Ajinca get back.
He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.
Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:
“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”
Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.
“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”
At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.