Tag: San Antonio Spurs


Tony Parker talks about playing for legacy with Spurs, France


When you talk about the greatest European players in NBA history, Tony Parker’s name has to come up. He’s a four-time NBA champion including one where he was Finals MVP (2007), a six-time All-Star, four times All-NBA second team, plus he has a European championship where he was the unquestioned leader of the French team.

At age 33, he is back defending that Euro title starting today (Saturday).

You can bet Gregg Popovich would prefer Parker be back in San Antonio prepping for the season in a lower-risk environment, but Parker told ESPN that playing for this title is about his legacy, and he can’t pass it up.

“My idol was Michael Jordan,” Parker said. “He was always motivated to get better. Lots of people have asked me, ‘Tony, why do you continue to play for the French national team? There’s nothing to prove.’ But I’m motivated, to play as long as possible, to use my talents for as long as possible and to push my limits.

“You look for things to motivate you. There’s history you can look at. There have been many great teams that have come before you: Yugoslavia, the great teams, Spain [now]. They’re a super example for us. … Perhaps in 10, 15, 20 years, we’ll have inspired the basketball players of France.”

Parker is the best player ever to come out of France (a country that had 10 players on NBA rosters at the start of last season). When the discussion turns to the greatest European player ever in the NBA the first answer is usually Dirk Nowitzki, and with good reason. But Parker should be mentioned in that same breath.

Now, he says, “it’s an honor to be in a conversation for the best European player in history. You don’t think of that when you start. You have all the names, guys like [Toni] Kukoc, [Drazen] Petrovic who stood out in European basketball. It’s bizarre to think of someone from France being near No. 1.”

It’s not as bizarre as it used to be, which is part of Parker’s legacy.

Report: Former second-rounder Deshaun Thomas will accept Spurs’ tender if offered

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Deshaun Thomas famously refused to give the Spurs his phone number.

Now, he’s waiting to hear from them.

Despite his interview difficulty, San Antonio drafted Thomas with the No. 58 pick in 2013. The last two years, they offered him the required tender โ€“ a one-year contract, surely unguaranteed and at the league minimum, necessary to retain his rights. Both years, Thomas rejected it in favor of signing in Europe, allowing San Antonio to carry his rights another year.

But he’s apparently no longer willing to put off an NBA deal.

David Pick:

The Spurs have until tomorrow to offer Thomas the tender. If they don’t, he’ll immediately become an unrestricted free agent.

If he accepts the tender, he’ll either make the regular-season roster or he won’t. Either would get him closer to the NBA. San Antonio keeping him would obviously get him there immediately. But even if he’s waived, he could negotiate with all 30 NBA teams. As is, only the Spurs, who hold his draft rights, can sign him.

San Antonio has 13 players with guaranteed contracts plus Matt Bonner ($749,594 guaranteed), Jimmer Fredette ($507,711 guaranteed), Reggie Williams (unguaranteed) and Youssou Ndoye (unclear guarantee). Those are substantial guarantees for Bonner and Fredette. I think the odds of Thomas beating them in training camp for the final two regular-season roster spots are low.

But it’s obviously not impossible. The Spurs drafted Thomas, and the only way for them to get a return on that investment is bringing him to camp to compete for a regular-season roster spot.

There is a downside, though. Required tenders can’t include an Exhibit 9, which offers teams protection if a player gets hurt. If Thomas injures himself during training camp, his contract would become guaranteed until he can play again. San Antonio might determine Thomas’ odds of making the team are too low to warrant such a risk.

Thomas faces potential downside with this route, too. If the Spurs bring him to camp and waive him before the regular season, he won’t receive more than per diem. During that time, he could miss out on more-lucrative overseas options.

If Thomas wants to reach the NBA, though, this his best move. It’s on San Antonio to make a call.

Brandon Armstrong does Manu Ginobili impression โ€” and Manu loves it

Detroit Pistons v San Antonio Spurs

Brandon Armstrong, the master of NBA imitationsย (James Harden, Russell Westbrook, JaVale McGee and others) took on a new target:

Manu Ginobili.

And Ginobili loved it.

He’s not the first, Westbrook cracked up at his, too.

I can’t wait to see Armstrong try to do Shawn Marion’s jumper some day… oh wait, he’s done that.

Erik Spoelstra: Heat’s starting lineup needs time before it’ll succeed

Miami Heat v Detroit Pistons

Who has the NBA’s best starting lineup?

The Warriors (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut)?

The Cavaliers (Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Timofey Mozgov)?

The Spurs (Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan)?

The Clippers (Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Paul Pierce, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan)?

Take your pick between those four or other contenders like the Thunder, Rockets or Bulls.

But there’s one team that belongs in the discussion despite two oddities:

  • All five projected starters played for the team last season, but its projected starting lineup didn’t log a single minute together.
  • The team missed the playoffs.

Yup, the Heat with Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside.

Bosh was sidelined for the rest of the season with blood clots just after Miami traded for Dragic. So, the lineup’s debut was postponed to this season.

On paper, the Heat have it all โ€“ offense and defense inside and out. They’re balanced, and nobody is playing out of position.

But Miami coach Erik Spoelstra cautions against expecting instant gratification.

Spoelstra, via Zach Lowe of Grantland:

โ€œItโ€™s not the kind of lineup where you can just throw it out there, and you know it will work,โ€ Spoelstra says. โ€œItโ€™s going to take practice.โ€

The biggest question with the Heat’s top lineup is health, especially Wade. He’s 33 and has a history of knee problems. There are also questions about Whiteside’s ability to perform over a full season, Bosh’s rust and Deng’s longevity.

But those are all individual concerns.

Like I said, there’s a lot to like about this unit as a whole. The one area for caution is probably Dragic and Wade sharing ball-handling duties. Though they play different positions โ€“ Dragic point guard and Wade shooting guard โ€“ both are used to being the lead guard. That could take more time to sort out.

Mostly, though, I think Spoelstra is just trying to lower expectations. The less people think of a team, the more opportunity the coach has to impress (and the less blame he’ll take if the team falters).

Anthony Bennett has looked good playing for Canada. Will that carry over to NBA?

Men's basketball, Semi final round action,

Canada opens its FIBA Americas play today (Tuesday) taking on Argentina, in what should be one of the more attractive Group B matches in the tournament. It’s a game of contrasts. Argentina is the old guard, they have had international successย โ€” gold at the 2004 Olympics โ€” but their golden generation has aged out (Manu Ginobili isn’t playing for them, for example). Canada is the young team on the rise, a squad loaded with young NBA talent โ€” Andrew Wiggins, Andrew Nicholson, Cory Joseph, Nik Stauskas, Kelly Olynyk, Dwight Powell, and…

Anthony Bennett.

The former No. 1 pick, a guy panned as a bust, has looked good for Canada in warmups for the tournament. He was a starter and key part of Canada winning the FIBA Americas’ tuneup event, the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup. Against Brazil, he scored 11 straight points and finished with 16 points in 15 minutes in that tournament.

He was asked about what is different after that win, as reported by Josh Lewenberg at TSN.

“[I’m] just playing with confidence, pretty much,” the 22-year-old forward responded. “Just going out there, playing defense, running the court. Just doing the little things first and trying to make offense come to me.”

“Anthony has been exemplary this summer,” said (Canada GM Steve) Nash, the two-time NBA MVP and future hall of fame point guard. “He’s had a tough first two years in the league but his attitude’s been amazing. His talent has never been in question but his attitude, willingness to learn and attention to detail… not that his attitude was ever an issue, but for him to come, to play in the Pan Am Games, to partake in a whole summer with us, it shows he has a real willingness to learn and get better and a want to be a great player.”

Bennett is also healthy, which has not happened a lot through his first two years in the NBA, and those injuries impacted his conditioning.

The question is, can Bennett bring this same level of play to Minnesota next season?

Bennett has had moments where he’s looked improved before โ€” 2014 Summer League, for example โ€” but it hasn’t translated once the NBA tipped off. Bennett was better last season in Minnesota than he was as a rookie, but he still needs to make strides to become a regular rotation player an improving Timberwolves team can count on.

That’s the ceiling for Bennett, it seem โ€” solid rotation player. That’s nowhere near what is expected out of a No. 1 pick, but that anchor around him is more about Cleveland’s misread than it is Bennett’s game (notice the Cavs changed GMs). Bennett is what he is.

Canadian coach Jay Triano told Bennett to simplify the game โ€” find a thing or two you’re good at and focus on doing those things exceptionally well. Crash the boards, run the floor. Everything else will fall into place.

If it falls into place for the Timberwolves, it will be one more piece in their puzzle.