The San Antonio Spurs have 14 guaranteed contracts on their roster and they may go into the season with just that many.
But they can add a 15th guy. They have identified a need — a physical three who can play limited minutes off the bench in certain matchups as a backup to Kawhi Leonard — now they just have to find the guy.
“They’re both big, strong people for the position,” Popovich said. “We want to see if that fits for us, to have another person there behind Kawhi. Marco (Belinelli) and Manu (Ginobili) can go there, but they’re a little bit slight for some of the teams we’re going to play. I don’t really want to put them in that position very often. If we’ve got another body we think will work well with the team, we might do that. That’s the primary reason we brought those guys in.”
With guaranteed contracts the norm, actual battles in training camp for a roster spot are a rarity in the NBA. (It’s why Hard Knocks for the NBA would never work, it lacks the drama of the NFL cut downs.)
We’ll see how this one plays out. Sam Young played a better role in Indiana last season than Maggette did in Detroit, but neither was very impressive at all. There also is the question of who fits best in the Spurs locker room culture.
Or, the Spurs may just cut them both. At least it is a training camp struggle to watch.
Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver
That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.
Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.
What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.
Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.
By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.
Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.
How’s that going?
(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.
Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks
Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.
So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.
“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….
“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.
“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”
Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.
Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.