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Another guard down: Spurs’ Derrick White out indefinitely with plantar fascia tear

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San Antonio just cannot catch a break.

This summer Tony Parker left for Charlotte, but that was okay because Dejounte Murray had taken the point guard job from him last season and made strides over the summer, he was ready to lead the team now. Then Murray tore his ACL and is out for the season. That made Derrick White the starting point guard, until…

Gregg Popovich announced Friday that White will be out with a heel injury, although it is worse than that, it’s a left plantar fascia tear (a rip of the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot). This is a non-surgical injury. Popovich said that White would be out 6-8 weeks, which is when he may be able to return to the court, although it can often take up to 12 weeks to get back to pre-injury form.

This is the latest in a rash of injuries to hit the Spurs’ backcourt. From Jeff McDonald at the San Antonio Express-News.

Over the last three exhibition games, the Spurs have seen each of their past three first-round draft picks succumb to injury, all of them guards. First it was Lonnie Walker IV, who tore meniscus in his right knee in a win over Detroit on Oct. 5, then Murray and now White.

“That’s three of our youngest, most talented, fastest kids,” coach Gregg Popovich said after another short-handed shootaround Friday morning at Orlando’s Amway Center. “We’ll have to deal with it.”

Bryn Forbes will now be the starting point guard, with Patty Mills getting a lot of time off the bench.

However, this preseason the Spurs have largely run the offense through DeMar DeRozan when the starters have been out on the court, DeRozan likely will take on more of the load now.

Still, this is a more significant setback for the Spurs than some fans realize. Murray was second-team NBA All-Defense last season and the Spurs were high on the improvements to his offensive game, they thought he was ready to make a leap. White had shown a lot of promise in Summer League and was seen as more of a quality guy off the bench, but the Spurs have a way of making those guys stand out… and now he’s out. Forbes is more score first (as is Mills) and Popovich doesn’t have Manu Ginobili to fall back on to run the offense anymore.

This is a lot of setbacks for the Spurs. Is this the season the playoff streak (21 years and counting) ends?

Spurs’ Dejounte Murray tears ACL

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Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray injured his knee yesterday.

Unfortunately, it was as bad as feared.

Spurs:

Spurs guard Dejounte Murray underwent an MRI examination this morning in San Antonio that revealed he has a torn right anterior cruciate ligament. The injury occurred at the 2:47 mark of the second quarter of yesterday’s Spurs-Rockets preseason game. A timeline for his return will be determined at a later date.​

This is a gut punch in both the short and long term.

The Spurs are a fringe playoff team with little margin for error in a stacked Western Conference. Losing their starting point guard is a major blow. Derrick White and Patty Mills will probably handle more at the position. But White is a second-year player who wasn’t even in the rotation last season, and Mills is more of a scorer than distributor. This will be a big ask from both.

This also sidetracks development of the 22-year-old Murray. He’s a staunch defender and elite rebounder for his position, but he had work to do – and was making strides – as a shooter and playmaker. With rookie guard Lonnie Walker also injured, this was a strong 1-2 hit to San Antonio.

The Spurs still have LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan and Gregg Popovich. There’s still hope the coach can figure out something. But Popovich’s challenge has become even greater.

Spurs’ Dejounte Murray injures knee; MRI coming Monday

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The San Antonio Spurs have bet big on Dejounte Murray — they made him the starting point guard last season, sending Tony Parker to the bench (at Parker’s urging), Murray made the NBA All-Defensive Team (second team), and there were expectations in San Antonio on how big a step forward this season.

Which is why this injury is scary — Murray’s knee buckled and he went down in the second quarter against the Rockets Saturday. His knee buckled as he drove the lane against James Harden in transition, and Murray was clearly in pain.

Hopefully, this is nothing serious.

Behind Murray, expect veteran Patty Mills to get a lot more run, as well as Bryn Forbes, but both of those are more score-first guards rather than table setters like Murray. They don’t have a player that fits as well behind him. Also, with Lonnie Walker IV also out, the guard depth in San Antonio is getting thin.

Tony Parker pushed to Charlotte by role offered, not money

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When Tony Parker signed with Charlotte, leaving the San Antonio Spurs after 17 seasons, there was a rumor the Spurs low-balled him on their offer. Which is not exactly how the Spurs treat their veterans, but that was the rumor.

Parker says it’s not true.

Speaking to French publication L’Expresso Parker said the Spurs offered similar money, it was the role that pushed him to Charlotte. (Hat tip NBC News 4 in San Antonio.)

The Spurs offered me the same thing (contractually) as Charlotte, but it was more about the role. It was not a question of money. And it’s important that people know this, because there are a lot of people who were “angry” at the Spurs, thinking the franchise had not offered me anything. Yes, they offered me something similar, but I did not want to finish (as an) assistant-coach. And that was the role they offered me, when I wanted to play…

And when Michael Jordan called me, my idol, I thought, let’s go. For me, I feel like closing the loop, to finish my career in his club, it’s something special for me because it’s him that made me want to play basketball.

For the record, Parker will make $5 million this season and $5.25 million the following season (although that contract is not fully guaranteed until July 4, in case the Hornets need to make a change of direction).

In Charlotte, Parker will come off the bench but get a healthy chunk of minutes behind Kemba Walker. The Spurs have Dejounte Murray and Patty Mills, both of whom are younger and, at this point in time, better than Parker. His role would have been more as veteran mentor, and Parker wasn’t ready to go there yet.

Whether or not Paker someday signs a one-day contract with San Antonio so he can retire a Spur or not, he will always be remembered as one. The same way we don’t remember Patrick Ewing in an Orlando jersey. Parker will forever be a Spur, he’s just wearing teal for a season or two.

Spurs reportedly sign Quincy Pondexter to partially-guaranteed one-year deal

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Quincy Pondexter had been a sharp-shooting wing who was a solid part of NBA rotations for years, but chronic knee issues — and multiple knee surgeries to repair them — plus a rare skin infection known as MRSA have limited him to 23 games total in the past three seasons (the Bulls waived him last February and he did not latch on with another team). Pondexter hasn’t played more than 45 games in a season since the 2014-15 season.

The San Antonio Spurs have a spot for a wing player off the bench — now that Manu Ginobili has retired — and they are willing to give Pondexter a shot to show he his healthy and earn the slot. Chris Haynes of ESPN broke the story.

This is a partially guaranteed deal at the veteran minimum, and it’s really an opportunity for Pondexter to prove he still can regularly contribute to a playoff team. It’s not hard to picture Gregg Popovich putting Pondexter in good catch-and-shoot opportunities with Patty Mills and the second unit, and the man could always shoot the rock. There’s potential there if he is truly healthy.

Pondexter is getting a chance prove it, and that’s all he can ask.