Spurs owner, Tony Parker expect Tim Duncan will return next season

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Tim Duncan didn’t look old — he averaged 15.4 points a game with a 60.8 true shooting percentage, plus he pulled down 10 rebounds a game and was a defensive force in the paint during the NBA Finals.

But the 38-year-old wouldn’t directly say after the game if he planned to return next season.

“I’m guessing you’re leading me into a question that I’m not going to answer, so I’ll just go ahead and avoid that one,” Duncan said when a reporter tried in a round about way to ask about his future.

Duncan is hard to read, but people around the team had the sense he would be back for at least one more run. That’s what Spurs lead owner Peter Holt and teammate Tony Parker told the San Antonio Express-News.

Holt said, “Tim and Manu are going to play until they die, so I think we are in pretty good shape. Tim and Manu want to play until they die, somewhat sincerely, actually.”

“It will come to an end but I don’t think next year,” Parker said. “I think everybody’s gonna come back.”

Duncan did give a hint he would be back. Duncan was asked after Game 5 about what Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard brought to the table and after raving about him for a bit this was Duncan’s last sentence:

“I’m honored to be on this team right now because he’s going to be great for years to come, and I’m going to hold on as long as I can.”

Duncan, Parker, and Manu Ginobili — not to mention Danny Green, Marco Belinelli, and others — are all under contract for one more year. Basically the Spurs can bring this same team back. The only free agents are Patty Mills and Boris Diaw, and thanks to Duncan taking a pay cut on his last deal down to $10 million the Spurs have the flexibility to re-sign those guys and/or chase other players (see what we’re talking about with flexibility, Lakers fans). The only guys on the roster beyond next season are Tiago Splitter, plus Kawhi Leonard (who will get a big contract extension from the team off his rookie deal).

Expect the Spurs to get the band back together for one more run. After that…. who knows?

Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich in no hurry to move on 

 

Reports: Pelicans to sign Jameer Nelson with Rondo out

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With Rajon Rondo out 4-6 weeks with a sports hernia, the New Orleans Pelicans were looking for a solid backup point guard.

This week, to make room to sign Richard Jefferson, the Denver Nuggets waived veteran Jameer Nelson.

While other teams such as the Rockets were calling, the Pelicans and Nelson have reached a deal, reports both Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports added this.

Nelson, in his 14th NBA season, became the top free agent on the market and received interest from contenders such as the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder and several other franchises that hoped to add the respected and accomplished veteran. But for Nelson, the Pelicans represent an opportunity to play significant minutes and provide leadership.

The Pelicans had a full roster of 15 players, they could have waited until next Tuesday and gotten a disabled player exception to add a 16th player, but they decided to go with something more permanent.

Jrue Holiday starts at the point for the Pelicans but with Rondo out — he was supposed to start next to Holiday — there is no depth at the position. The Pelicans can have Nelson step in and get minutes from the first time he steps on the court.

Nelson is still a solid pick-and-roll point guard, but what he brings to the table the Pelicans need more is shooting — he shot 38.8 percent from three last season and is a good spot up player. He can penetrate and make plays off handoffs as well, but it’s his shooting on a team that needs it that will be most valued.

The Pelicans have started the season 0-2 with losses to Memphis and Golden State. They take on the Lakers in Los Angeles Sunday night.

DeMarcus Cousins fined $25,000 for cursing at fan

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Near the end of New Orleans’ season-opening loss in Memphis, DeMarcus Cousins started getting into a war of words with a female Grizzlies fan, an exchange where allegedly “F-bombs” were dropped in both directions.

That’s going to cost Cousins.

Saturday the league announced that the Pelicans’ center has been fined $25,000 for “directing inappropriate language towards a fan.”

Cousins got a technical foul during this exchange, and that has been rescinded.

Cousins has averaged 31 points and 10 rebounds a game through two games this season, but it hasn’t been enough as New Orleans has started the season 0-2.

It’s not about the shoes: Kevin Durant loses his, blocks two shots anyway

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Shoes? Kevin Durant don’t need no stinkin’ shoes.

Early in the second quarter of the Warriors win in New Orleans Friday, Durant came out of his shoes on a layup in the lane. He then picked up his shoe, carried it to the other end, flipped it to the bench, and played defense without it, and while he got moved out of the way allowing an offensive rebound for the Pelicans he then proceeded to block Tony Allen twice at the rim.

Durant — after deciding to play the rest of the game in shoes — had seven blocks on the night, to go with 22 points.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Celtics on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. That will work especially well against teams going small (for example, the Cavaliers with Kevin Love at the five), although Friday night Boston had big man Aron Baynes starting at center (in part because of Embiid, in part because Marcus Smart was out injured). Still, Embiid can score on Baynes.

Take a look at Embiid’s shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.