Sunday, August 31, 2008

Express News: As a cabbie, Popovich was golden

Gregg Popovich should have flown into the San Antonio airport last week with a gold medal. He instead drove to the airport to pick up bronze.

He instead acted as if he were moonlighting in a taxi, pulling up to give Manu Ginobili a ride. Popovich accentuated the gesture by planting a kiss on Ginobili's cheek, and with that Popovich did more than make Ginobili wonder if the jet lag was playing tricks on his mind. Popovich showed again why he should have been the coach of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team.

He knows basketball, he knows people and he knows how to mix the two.

As it is, Mike Krzyzewski did fine in Popovich's place. He's always been a gentleman, and he was in Beijing. His players responded accordingly, and they won with civility, changing the way the world perceives American basketball.

Still, Krzyzewski had the benefit of the best U.S. talent in a dozen years, and this was supposed to be Popovich's turn. He knows the global game better than Krzyzewski, and he certainly knows the pro athlete better than Krzyzewski.

Having assisted both George Karl and Larry Brown in international competition, Popovich had paid his dues, too. But that's ultimately what undercut Popovich. Karl and Brown had overseen bad-tempered disasters, and Popovich was guilty by association. To change what had been done before, Jerry Colangelo felt the need to change everything.

Colangelo might also have been reluctant to reward a coach who had beaten Colangelo's Suns for a decade. And maybe this factored into the equation, too: In Athens, Popovich continued his never-ending defense of Tim Duncan's attitude toward the media, and neither wore well with the USA Basketball staff.

No matter the reason, Popovich didn't complain publicly. And, the way it worked out, maybe it was better he wasn't coaching in Beijing when the United States played Argentina. He would have been distracted in the first quarter.

Then Ginobili collapsed, holding the same ankle that had bothered him last spring. Back in his San Antonio living room, Popovich was free to yell at the HD vision in front of him. Hadn't Popovich thought all of this was possible?

He had, as had the Spurs' medical staff. But here's the literal twist of this ankle: Specialists didn't think it was a matter of if Ginobili's ligament would give out, but when.

That's why Ginobili isn't inaccurate when he contends the Spurs cleared him to join the Argentina team. Popovich and his doctors would have preferred Ginobili didn't play, because there is always some risk. But they understood this joint was inherently weak and would likely require surgery eventually.

If anything, their fear was this: Ginobili would survive the Olympics only to collapse in December or March.

This way, Ginobili got to play, and now his ankle will be fixed. Who knows? Maybe his absence the first month of the season helps Roger Mason blend in.

Still, even with these circumstances, Ginobili likely wondered how Popovich was taking the news. Given what Popovich had said before, Ginobili had reason to wonder if some things would be awkward.

Popovich isn't above an I-told-you-so speech. R.C. Buford has certainly heard one before. But Popovich is far too smart to spend time dwelling on what is done. Ginobili has always been one of his favorites, and, just as Popovich has lived with his aggressive mistakes on the court, he will live with this.

But Popovich didn't stop there. He went to the airport to pick up His Guy. He showed Ginobili they are together, and it was an emotional act by an emotional man.

Popovich confronts his players the same way. He's yelled at Ginobili, and he's told him to sit down. He has a sense of what needs to be said, and what people need to hear, and it's worked in the Spurs' locker room for a decade.

And if given a chance? It would have worked in Beijing, too.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

ESPN: No early timetable for Ginobili return

No early timetable for Ginobili return

By Stephania Bell
August 30, 2008, 3:14 PM

The San Antonio Spurs announced on their official Web site Friday that Manu Ginobili will undergo surgery to correct a posterior impingement of his left ankle. He is expected to have the surgery next week, and his timetable to return will be announced by the team afterward.
Guy Lake

The injury to Ginobili is not a new one. He originally injured his ankle during the Spurs-Suns series in the 2008 NBA playoffs. The ankle bothered him for what was left of the season and also hampered his effectiveness. Ginobili underwent a trial of conservative rehabilitation that included an injection into the painful area, immobilization of the ankle in a walking boot and structured activity designed to regain strength to support the ankle. It was no secret that there was concern on the part of the Spurs regarding Ginobili's decision to play in the Olympics, given the recent problems with his ankle. However, Ginobili was determined to represent his native Argentina if his ankle was no worse, and he did so with great pride, even carrying his country's flag in the opening ceremonies.

But the residual effects of the original ankle injury made themselves known during Ginobili's efforts in the semifinal game between Argentina and, of all teams, the United States. In the first quarter, Ginobili appeared to aggravate the injury as he rolled out on a play. The play was fairly unremarkable in that there was no hard contact and it did not result from an awkward landing -- suggesting that Ginobili's setback was perhaps inevitable, a result of instability still present in the ankle.

Ginobili explained his decision to undergo surgery to Argentina's La Nacion newspaper Friday. "It's the same as it was two months ago, when they did the first [MRI] exam," Ginobili said. "It's not worse, which is important. Now, the thing is, it's not better either, and it seems like the only way to repair it completely is arthroscopic surgery."

So what is a "posterior ankle impingement" and what is reasonable to expect from Ginobili afterward? Posterior impingement is actually a condition in which the name pretty well explains the problem. The impingement, or "pinching," results from injury to the soft and bony tissue in the posterior ankle region. Compression of the soft tissue in the posterior (back) of the ankle occurs during repeated plantar flexion, or pointing of the foot (which happens during pushing off, running and jumping), as the soft tissue gets pinched between the two bones that form the joint surfaces. This repeated pinching can lead to pain, inflammation and thickening of any of the associated tissues. Impingement can occur for a variety of reasons, including ankle instability resulting from prior sprains, which cause excessive motion within the joint and place strain on nearby tissues.

The timetable for return ultimately depends on exactly what transpires during surgery. That's why the Spurs are likely reserving a timetable announcement until surgery is complete. Various reports have Ginobili missing six to eight weeks, which is a reasonable timeframe, assuming surgery and rehabilitation proceed without incident. The timetable will be dependent upon how quickly he recovers his range of motion and then progresses through activity that will return him to readiness to play. Keeping in mind that Ginobili's explosiveness and power had been limited for some time by the condition, it might take additional time, once he is back on the court, for him to return to pre-injury form.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Herald Tribune: Spurs' Ginobili says he needs surgery on heel

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina: San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili says he needs arthroscopic surgery to repair a ligament injury in his left heel after playing for Argentina in the Beijing Olympics.

"They're going to operate on me," Ginobili was quoted as saying by Argentina's La Nacion newspaper Friday.

Ginobili, who helped lead Argentina to a bronze medal in Beijing, said a subsequent MRI exam of his injured ankle showed no improvement.

"It's the same as it was two months ago, when they did the first exam," he said. "It's not worse, which is important. Now, the thing is, it's not better either, and it seems like the only way to repair it completely is arthroscopic surgery."

Ginobili first hurt the ankle during the NBA playoffs, and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had urged his player not to compete in the Olympics unless the injury improved. Ginobili had to sit out the bronze-medal match against Lithuania after feeling pain during the semifinals against the United States.

Ginobili, 31, said he doesn't know what doctor will perform the surgery or when.

"Aside from this situation, I'm comfortable with the situation," he said. "My plan was to be part of the Olympic games, and I knew that if I suffered from pain they would have to operate. This isn't something that took me by surprise."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hoopsworld: The Ginobili Effect

By: Yannis Koutroupis

The San Antonio Spurs made their desire for Manu Ginobili to rest this summer rather than participate in the Beijing Olympic games well known, largely due to the risk of him getting hurt. Ginobili broke down at the end of last season and was a non-factor for all but one game of the Western Conference Finals, where the Spurs lost in five to the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite all that, Manu's competitiveness and pride for his country wouldn't let him skip out on the Olympics.

Everything was going good until Argentina faced Team USA in the semifinals, when Ginobili aggravated his left ankle injury in the first quarter. While the injury doesn't appear to be severe, the ankle is still going to be a lingering issue for one of the league's most frenetic players throughout the entire season. He does have a month to rehab the ankle, but his style of play makes the probability of reinjuring the ankle high.

Having him settle down isn't an option either. Spurs head coach Greg Popovich has said on numerous occasions that being so unpredictable is what makes Ginobili great. The fact that he could do just about anything next has made Ginobili one of the best guards in the league, but his body is quickly becoming less and less capable of being able to support this type of play.

So rather than trying to change how he plays on the court, the Spurs will likely change how much he's on it in the early going. He'll undoubtedly be at least somewhat limited during training camp, and don't expect to see much of him in the preseason either.

Due the growing concern about him becoming injury prone the Spurs have also wisely decided to hold off on contract extension talks. Ginobili is under contract for the next two years and committing any significant amount of money to Manu right now would be something that the Spurs could really end up regretting.

It's easy to get caught up in how none of this would have happened if Ginobili stayed home, but it's a moot point now with the Olympics over and the Spurs have no choice but to move on. This is something they have to deal with.

Thankfully for the Spurs they may be able to afford to give him some rest early on in the season. Ten of the Spurs first 16 games are against teams that were .500 or below last season. One of those teams is Portland, who will be much better, but the Spurs still have a favorable schedule to start.

When this will become a major pressing issue is when Ginobili misses even the slightest amount of time during the heat of the playoff race. We saw last year how much difference a few games made, and this year should be the same. The Spurs goal was to lighten the load on Ginobili by adding Corey Maggette, but they were not able to afford his services.

For the next two years though the Spurs options are really limited on what they can do with Ginobili. You cannot trade him because he's among the elite game-changers in the league and you aren't going to get back someone of equal value. Another proven perimeter scorer along his side would be ideal for the Spurs, but they don't have much to offer in terms of a trade.

The Spurs are in position to have a significant amount of cap room in 2010 though, where they can either extend Ginobili if he miraculously stays healthy, or go after one of the other big name free agents. Until then the Spurs' success will largely depend on Argentina's best. Considering how good the West is and Ginobili's injury history, the next two years could be extremely frustrating in San Antonio.

There will be stretches where he and the Spurs will look poised to win it all, but their ability to actually do so is contingent on Ginobili being 100% healthy in the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Spurs, a clean bill of health for Ginobili after a grueling 82-game regular season seems a bit unrealisitic.

Express News: Ginobili does not regret playing in the Olympics

Ginobili does not regret playing in Olympics
Mike Monroe - Express-News

After more than an hour on a runway in Beijing, another 12 in the air, an hour clearing customs at Chicago's O'Hare Airport and three more waiting for a connecting flight, Spurs star Manu Ginobili arrived at San Antonio International Airport late Monday night and discovered the truth about heroes.

When it comes to lost luggage, Olympic medalists get no special favors.

Missing were three of the four bags he and his wife had checked in Beijing, where Ginobili collected a bronze medal as the leading scorer for the Argentine Olympic team.

“I actually got 25 percent — three out of four (were missing),” Ginobili said.

Ginobili's value to the Spurs was reinforced. There to retrieve him was coach Gregg Popovich, who planted a kiss on his cheek as he spirited him away from a brief interview session.

The two had spoken by phone after Ginobili suffered another injury Friday to the left ankle that had hampered him during the Spurs' playoff run. The Spurs medical staff will re-examine Ginobili's ankle this week, though Popovich made it clear Ginobili's first priority is getting some rest.

“He's been on a plane a long time,” Popovich said as he ushered him out of the terminal.

Ginobili said Popovich had not questioned his decision to play in the Olympics, despite the injury in Argentina's loss to the United States in the Olympic semifinal round.

“That's how it felt from 8,000 miles away,” Ginobili said. “He understood, and I was truthful from what I said from the beginning. I felt great for a month-and-a-half. I guess it was going to happen sooner or later, and it did. So now I have a month to rehab it.”

The injury did not diminish Ginobili's pride in earning his second Olympic medal.

“I'm so proud, so happy to represent our country the way we did it, in accomplishing the big goal, which was to get to the podium,” Ginobili said. “They said that for us, it would be once in a lifetime. For us, it was two times in a lifetime, so we are very happy.”

Sunday, August 17, 2008

SportingNews: Everybody's a contender in the Western Conference

Everybody's a contender in the Western Conference
Sean Deveney

It's summer, and that means lazing on the beach, twilight softball games and small children in too-big hats eating half-melted ice cream. Dewy lemonade and convertibles. Flip flops and shades. You get the idea. Summer is no time for negative thoughts.

In this serene frame of mind, let's consider one of the weighty issues of today's NBA: geography. For whatever reason, the bulk of the league's best players now work to the left of the Mississippi River, which makes the Western Conference a minefield almost impossible to navigate.

Eight teams in the West won 50 or more games last season, and the Warriors set a record for most wins (48) by a team that did not qualify for the postseason. Your team might win 50 games, like last season's Nuggets, Rockets, Suns and Mavericks, and get run out of the playoffs in the first round -- and then have to spend the offseason parting ways with a coach (Dallas and Phoenix), selling off a top defensive player (Denver) or taking a risk on Ron Artest, the loosest cannon in sports (Houston).

But remember, this is summer. And that means positive vibes and talk of winning. Thus, when free-agent guard Brent Barry agrees to terms with the Rockets, he says, "Obviously, the Houston Rockets are not far off from competing for a championship." Or when point guard Baron Davis signs with the Clippers, he says, "the possibilities are endless to be able to win a championship." And the arrival of swingman James Posey in New Orleans prompts coach Byron Scott to declare, "It obviously puts us a step closer to our ultimate goal, which is winning a championship."

Positivity is contagious, no matter how hopeless the West landscape appears. So, with everyone's inner realist groaning just a little, let's paint a rosy picture of the conference and a path to The Finals for, say, 11 of the 15 teams, which should be enough to keep those positive vibes flowing.

Los Angeles Lakers. The path back to The Finals is clear: The return of young center Andrew Bynum will make them championship favorites.

San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio won titles in 2003, '05 and '07. The Spurs have a remarkable opportunity to become the first team to win four straight nonconsecutive championships in odd-numbered years.

New Orleans Hornets. They could not beat the Spurs last season, but their seven-game beauty of a series provided valuable experience. Chris Paul and David West will improve, and they've added a pocketful of Posey. They're ready for the next step.

Utah Jazz. Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer are coming into their prime years, Ronnie Brewer gives them (finally) a legit shooting guard, and Andrei Kirilenko is back from the brink. A playoff breakthrough might be next.

Phoenix Suns. New coach Terry Porter will slow it down, get these guys to play playoff-level D and have them ready for late April. Then, he'll keep his fingers crossed for a Shaq revival.

Dallas Mavericks. New coach Rick Carlisle will slow it down, get these guys to play playoff-level D and have them ready for late April. Then, he'll keep his fingers crossed for a Jason Kidd revival.

Houston Rockets. They need to let Artest do his thing on the floor, then take anything off the floor with a grain of salt. Or a shaker of salt. He could be the tough dude this team desperately needs.

Denver Nuggets. Kenyon Martin showed flashes of his old self down the stretch last season. If Nene can do the same, they won't miss Marcus Camby at all.

Portland Trail Blazers. Too young? Probably. But the championship-level talent is there, so there's always a chance it could come together quickly.

Golden State Warriors. The focus is on the future, but Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette can make this team an offensive force in the present.

Los Angeles Clippers. What the heck. It's summer, when even the Clippers can be contenders.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Finley Resigns with Spurs

After drawing interest from a few top contenders, including the NBA's new champions in Boston, Michael Finley has elected to re-sign with the San Antonio Spurs.

NBA front-office sources told on Friday that Finley and the Spurs have reached terms on a new deal that has been submitted for league approval.

Contract specifics were not immediately available, but sources say Finley's decision came down to a choice between staying with the Spurs or joining the Boston Celtics as the reigning champs' replacement for James Posey, who signed with the New Orleans Hornets earlier this summer.

Sources say the two-time All-Star also drew strong interest from the Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Spurs, though, were determined to keep Finley, 35, even after signing swingman Roger Mason away from the Washington Wizards last month, with Brent Barry leaving San Antonio's wing rotation to sign with the Houston Rockets.

Heading into his 14th season, Finley joined the Spurs in the summer of 2005 after being waived by the Dallas Mavericks via the league's one-time amnesty provision, which allowed the Mavs to avoid paying a dollar-for-dollar luxury tax on the $51.8 million they owed Finley over the past three seasons.

The Spurs were eliminated by the Mavericks in a memorable second-round series in Finley's first season in San Antonio before winning the championship in 2007 to end Finley's decade-plus chase for a ring.

Finley then started 61 games last season for the Spurs, averaging 10.1 points and shooting 37 percent from 3-point range.

2008 Season Stats GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
82 10.1 3.1 1.4 .414 .800

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for To e-mail him, click here.

Yahoo Sports: Pargo to play in Russia;_ylt=AhVCEol3.ZMDUpNc0HwzBEq8vLYF?slug=aw-pargo081508&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

Pargo to play in Russia
By Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports
2 hours, 12 minutes ago

BEIJING – New Orleans Hornets free agent guard Jannero Pargo, a valued sixth man, has reached an agreement in principle with Moscow Dynamo on a one-year contract worth about $3.5 million, sources close to the negotiations told Yahoo! Sports.

Some details still needed to be worked out Friday before the contract could be finalized, but sources said there were no hurdles left that should jeopardize the deal.

Once again, an American-born player with options in the NBA has chosen to take a more lucrative offer overseas. Pargo is the second NBA player to sign with Dynamo this summer, joining ex-New Jersey Nets forward Bostjan Nachbar. They’ll play for American-born coach, David Blatt, who was hired to take over the team.

Pargo, 28, had developed into a dangerous bench scorer for the Hornets and attracted the interest of several teams, including the San Antonio Spurs and Atlanta Hawks. New Orleans wanted to keep him – and Pargo’s preference was to stay – but the Hornets had invested too much available money in free agent James Posey to make a strong enough bid.

The lure of guaranteed money in Russia trumped the most serious bids made by the Spurs and Hawks.

Pargo averaged 8.1 points in 18.7 minutes in the regular season, but played well in the Hornets Western Conference playoff run. He had 30 points in a Western Conference playoff Game 3 against the Dallas Mavericks, and 18 points in Game 7 of the conference semifinals against the Spurs. He averaged more than 10 points a game in the postseason.

Thursday, August 14, 2008 “We had to win, that’s why we feel better now”

Translated from:

By Manu Ginobili

Beijing – They told me Kobe (Bryant) was in the stands, I didn’t see him but the guy should leave me alone man, I am getting tired! He should have been sleeping instead of coming to see us. Well jokes aside, I think against Australia we got a lot better in almost every aspect of the game. It was like a final for us, we had to win and now we feel alleviated.

Luis Scola and Fabricio Oberto were key on this game, they were the ones setting the tone from the beginning and we could play a clearer game because of that. We found more spaces than we did against Lithuania. It is very clear that this is another kind of rival, but they proposed a tough physical game and we had to hustle a lot. At certain moments, it got a little dirty out there, as we have a couple of “spicy” players that get into that kind of game (I bet he was referring to Noce lol), we had to talk in between us not to lose our composure and focus. I think that goes along with the experience. After that moment everything went our way, Delfino was great playing PG, I felt more comfortable than in the first game and dedicated myself to create plays for our bigs. At the end, yes, we ceded our intensity. It always happens when a team is winning by a big difference; the one that is behind keeps pushing for the loss not to be a blowout.

I also think that is one of the few times that we dominated the game the entire time, at least during this process. We moved the ball well, we didn’t get dispersed and we kept our intensity at a high peak. More so, we were a not so “short” team; there were several substitutes that gave us good minutes off the bench and that comes very handy so they start catching up with the kind of intensity needed for this rhythm of competition. We always try to give them the ball for them to get their game back and have confidence. They know they have to give their “all” in the 5, 6 minutes of playing time they get.

Croatia is a very tough rival. Tomorrow, advance to the second round will be in play. I haven’t seen anything about them yet, but I know they are shooting lights out from 3. I don’t believe they will keep such a high percentage (20 of 31) for the whole duration of the tournament, at the end things get normal. They don’t have that many shooting specialists, two or three of their players are. But, I repeat, I haven’t seen them yet but I do know how they play. The important thing is that it was a good win, that we are still in the race, that our hope is intact and that we came back to the Olympic village with another kind of mood, without

Sports Illustrated: Q&A with the Spurs' Tony Parker

Q&A with the Spurs' Tony Parker

San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker will be on the cover of NBA Live 09, set to be released in October. While in Vancouver, British Columbia, recently for a motion capture session for the game, Parker, 26, spoke with about the Olympics, why the Spurs only win the championship in odd years and how much more popular he'd be if he played in New York. As the first European-born cover athlete of the main NBA Live game, what are your thoughts on the globalization of basketball and how it's affected the NBA?

Parker: It's great for the game. Right now, we can definitely say that the NBA is the best league in the world. It's great to have all the best players in the world in one place with their different styles. You have Yao Ming from China, or Manu Ginobili from Argentina, or me from France. You have all those guys in one place and that helps make your game better. How did you end up playing basketball in France during a time when it would have been much easier playing soccer with your friends?

Parker: Well, soccer is the main sport in France, but having a dad who's American, I always watched a lot of basketball. My dad was from Chicago, born and raised, and we were big Chicago Bulls fans. So waking up every morning at 3 a.m. to watch the NBA Finals, it was clear in my mind what I wanted to do. I always wanted to be a basketball player. Did you watch any of the NBA Finals this past season, or do you shut yourself off after you get eliminated?

Parker: I didn't watch it. I was traveling a lot. I was in Europe during that time so I didn't watch any games. I was focusing on my brother's playoffs; he won the France championship so somebody in the family won something. Despite winning four titles in nine years, you guys never repeated. [Parker played on the Spurs' last three title-winning teams.] Then again, after seeing six different squads repeat or three-peat over a 15-year stretch, we haven't had a team win consecutive titles since 2002. Why has it become so hard?

Parker: I don't know. The NBA is tough. We had our shots to get a back-to-back but stuff happened. The Derek Fisher shot [in Game 5 the 2004 conference semifinals], the Dirk Nowitzki foul [by Manu Ginobili in Game 7 of the 2006 conference finals] and then we lose in overtime. We had some great chances to get a back-to-back but sometimes things just don't go your way. You're the youngest player on the Spurs. In fact, you were one of only two players on the Spurs' active roster last season under the age of 30. Do you see the face of this team changing, if not next season, then the year after?

Parker: I don't know, we'll see. I have a lot of confidence in Coach Pop [Gregg Popovich] in making the right decisions to help our team improve. I've been here seven years and every year they've done a good job of improving the team. I'm sure they'll make the right decisions and bring in the right mix of players to help us win. How has your role on the team evolved in those seven years?

Parker: It's different. When I first came to the team I was 19, playing with David Robinson and Tim Duncan. As I grew as a player, a lot of players retired and left the team. So my role with the team has grown each year. It was a great opportunity for me to improve and get better. As the years have gone on and more guys left, my responsibility has grown.

My relationship with Pop has also grown. He's got his military ways and he's really hard and really tough and demanding, but at the end of the day, he made me a very good basketball player. And off the court he's great, too. His philosophy is to be consistent and not be too high when everything is going good and not be too low when everything is bad. Try to find that middle and be consistent and there won't be any surprises. You're not playing in the Olympics now, but the French national team has some good players with you, Boris Diaw and Ronny Turiaf, among others. What does that group have to do to get to the Olympics four years from now?

Parker: We're a young team. Our lack of experience in those big moments and those big games has hurt us, but we're improving. In 2005, we had a bronze medal in the European Championship -- that was a great first step for us. We didn't qualify for the Olympics, but the next two competitions, the European Championship in 2009 and the Olympics in [2012], are going to be huge for us because everybody will be 27 or 28 and in the prime of their careers. I'm really looking forward to winning something then. What's your take on Team USA, or the Redeem Team, as it's been called? Will they win the gold?

Parker: It's hard right now because every country is improving. The States don't dominate like they used to and so now they have to send their best players. Now that they've been together for two-to-three years, they have a good chance. I like the way they play. They're the team to beat. Why are there so few great true point guards in the NBA?

Parker: It's one of the hardest positions in basketball because you have to take basically what the head coach is saying and you have to make everybody happy on the court and at the same time you have to play your game. So it's hard to do everything at the same time because you have the ball in your hand all the time. Why is it that the Spurs are almost never the favorites to win the championship to begin the season despite the success that you've had?

Parker: It's because we're in a small market. If it said "Knicks" across our jersey, we would be talked about all the time. We'd be everywhere. Do you really think if the Spurs traded places with the Knicks that you guys would be more appreciated?

Parker: Oh, yeah, we'd be so famous. They'd love us. We'd be winning championships and it would be amazing. You already deal with that attention off the court when you go to Hollywood to be with Eva. Don't you like hiding out in San Antonio?

Parker: Sure, I love San Antonio. It's a great city, the people are very friendly and it's got great weather. To be honest, when I'm not playing basketball, I just like to relax and spend time with my wife and chill. In New York?

Parker: [Laughs] Sometimes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 Changing Of The Guard

Changing Of The Guard (A Look At The Southwest Division's Off-Season Moves)


COMING – The Spurs are kind of quietly going about retooling on the fly, letting some veterans critical to their recent title runs go and filling in with youth. Aside from retaining trade-deadline acquisition Kurt Thomas, the key free agent signing to date is Washington’s Roger Mason to back up Manu Ginobili. Mason is a shooter with unlimited range who last year, for the first time, shored up other areas of his game enough to factor as an asset. The Spurs also signed a young big man, Anthony Tolliver, based on a strong Las Vegas Summer League showing. The draft yielded the first round’s biggest surprise, point guard George Hill of IUPUI, and also versatile wing Malik Hairston out of Detroit Renaissance and Oregon. The Spurs are in the mix for a valuable free agent guard, Jannero Pargo.

GOING – The man who probably cost the Pistons the 2005 NBA title, Robert Horry, won’t be back with the Spurs – and maybe not at all. He declined steeply last season and barely factored by the end. The more painful loss will be Brent Barry, who signed with division rival Houston. It’s also unclear whether a third veteran free agent, Michael Finley, will be back or not.

PROJECTED LINEUP – Point guard: Tony Parker (Jacque Vaughn, George Hill); shooting guard: Manu Ginobili (Roger Mason); center: Fabricio Oberto (Kurt Thomas, Ian Mahinmi); power forward: Tim Duncan (Matt Bonner, Anthony Tolliver); small forward: Bruce Bowen (Ime Udoka, Malik Hairston).

BOTTOM LINE – Tony Parker is only 26 and still has room for growth, but Tim Duncan at 32 and Manu Ginobili at 31 – and maybe an old 31, given his reckless style of play – are at the point where they’re going to need a little more help. San Antonio management is deservedly recognized for keen personnel decisions and budget management, but there’s at least some danger that this year the Spurs slip a rung in the unforgiving West.

The Oregonian: Hard work gives him that edge

Hard work gives him that edge
Spurs forward and former Portland State star Ime Udoka wants to expand his game and "stay sharp"
Saturday, August 09, 2008
The Oregonian Staff

The opening of NBA training camps is almost eight weeks away, but Ime Udoka is busy preparing himself for the upcoming season.

"You have to stay sharp," Udoka said. "I'm not gonna change what got me here. I'm not gonna be complacent."

Udoka, entering his third full season, could be the second-most prominent NBA player from Oregon and southwest Washington next season. Only Kevin Love, a rookie with Minnesota, figures to get more playing time, barring injury.

The only other player from an area high school with a guaranteed contract is Thomas Gardner. The rest are hoping that hard work during the summer will result in securing a roster spot in the fall, a goal Udoka achieved two years ago with the Trail Blazers.

Udoka's role and playing time probably will increase as he begins his second season with the San Antonio Spurs. Udoka's minutes increased during the playoffs last season, when the Spurs lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals.

Personnel changes have thinned the Spurs' depth at the wing position, creating an opportunity for Udoka. Brent Barry is now with Phoenix and Michael Finley might not return to San Antonio. Bruce Bowen, 37 and entering his 13th season, Manu Ginobili and Udoka are the Spurs' remaining wing players. Udoka plans to arrive at training camp ready to start the season in coach Gregg Popovich's regular rotation.

Udoka, 31, a former Portland State star, has been working to expand his game beyond being the "heir apparent" to Bowen as a defensive specialist and three-point shooter.

"I don't want to limit myself to just being a spot-up shooter," Udoka said. "I'm going to try to get to the basket a little more and do a few more things like pass the ball."

Udoka doesn't know how to stop working, especially after having right ankle surgery in July that delayed his offseason workouts. His attitude is the result of playing for several seasons in the International Basketball League, National Basketball Development League and overseas before his breakthrough with the Blazers.

"It's a matter of improving myself," Udoka said. "I'm going to be watching a lot of tape and do a lot of the mental (preparation) this summer. I want to go into camp on top of things offensively and defensively

A solid, injury-free season in 2008-09 could land Udoka a multiyear, multimillion-dollar contract next summer.

"They always say guys in San Antonio have a better second year than first year because you have a year under your belt and you're a lot more comfortable," Udoka said. "If I play well this year, I'll go into next summer with some options."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bleach Report: Is Jannero Pargo Playin' the San Antonio Spurs?

A guy who the Spurs drafted and then sent to the Phoenix Suns on draft night may have a lot to do with why free agent Jannero Pargo has not yet signed with San Antonio.

The Spurs acquired the draft rights to forward Malik Hairston, Golden State's 2009 second-round pick, and cash from Suns in exchange for the draft rights to guard Goran Dragic.

Dragic, a point guard from Europe, was chosen three picks before Hairston. In mid-July, two sources said Dragic had negotiated a buyout for this summer, and it was up to the Suns to find a way to give him a multiyear contract, starting at almost $2 million. That would help Dragic cover the cost of buying out his European deal beyond the $500,000 the Suns can contribute directly.

Since then, while there have been several comments from Dragic saying that he may remain in Europe this season, the Suns still remain confident of their chances to bring their second-round draft pick to Phoenix this year—but they may not know for certain until the end of the week.

Now, according to two Phoenix area newspapers, the East Valley Tribune and the Arizona Republic, if Dragic stays in Europe, Phoenix might be making a play for free agent Jannero Pargo—the same player the Spurs have been after since finding out that he wouldn't be returning to the Hornets.

Pargo is reportedly mulling a $2 million-a-year offer from San Antonio. But that offer has been on the table for more than a week, and the situation in Phoenix might be one reason why he hasn't closed the deal.

Pargo's agent, Mark Bartelstein, refused to disclose whether the Suns are in the running, but Pargo is known to be a favorite of Phoenix general manager Steve Kerr.

The Suns might be convinced to spend the $2 million-plus it was going to spend on Dragic this season on Pargo to give the Suns a solid backup to Steve Nash at the point.

If Dragic stays in Europe and Pargo proves too expensive, former Spur and University of Arizona star Damon Stoudamire is also available and under consideration.

Spurs fans in San Antonio are not happy with the news, since Pargo's wavering may be affecting other roster moves which have been put on hold.

Express News: Spurs National Television Schedule

Spurs national television schedule

Wednesday, Oct. 29 - Phoenix at Spurs, 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Friday, Oct. 31 - Spurs at Portland, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Friday, Nov. 7 - Miami at Spurs, 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Thursday, Dec. 4 - Spurs at Denver, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)

Wednesday, Dec. 17 - Spurs at New Orleans, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Thursday, Dec. 18 - Spurs at Orlando, 7 p.m. (TNT)

Thursday, Dec. 25 - Spurs at Phoenix, 1:30 p.m. (ABC)

Wednesday, Jan. 14 - L.A. Lakers at Spurs, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Sunday, Jan. 25 - Spurs at L.A. Lakers, 2:30 p.m. (ABC)

Thursday, Jan. 29 - Spurs at Phoenix, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)

Sunday, Feb. 8 - Spurs at Boston, noon (ABC)

Thursday, Feb. 19 - Spurs at Detroit, 7 p.m. (TNT)

Friday, Feb. 27 - Cleveland at Spurs, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Sunday, March 1 - Spurs at Portland, 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Wednesday, March 4 - Spurs at Dallas, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Sunday, March 8 - Phoenix at Spurs, 2:30 p.m. (ABC)

Thursday, March 12 - L.A. Lakers at Spurs, 7 p.m. (TNT)

Sunday, March 29 - Spurs at New Orleans, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Sunday, April 5 - Spurs at Cleveland, noon (ABC)

Express News: Spurs remain on hold regarding Finley

Web Posted: 08/09/2008 12:00 CDT
Spurs remain on hold regarding Finley

Jeff McDonald - Express-News

Two months and one week after he became a free agent, Michael Finley remains a man without a team.

Whether Finley returns for a fourth season in a Spurs uniform appears to be entirely up to him.

The Spurs are believed to have tendered Finley an offer worth more than the veteran minimum of $1.3 million to keep him in San Antonio, where he was a part-time starter on a team that went to the Western Conference finals last season.

If Finley winds up playing anywhere else next season, there's a chance — however remote — it could be in a familiar haunt.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, citing Finley's agent as its source, has reported the Dallas Mavericks have contacted the 35-year-old guard about a possible return to the Metroplex.

Finley spent 81/2 seasons with the Mavericks before joining the Spurs as a free agent during the 2005 offseason. However, it seems a long shot Finley would relocate to Dallas.

Not only are the Mavericks overstocked on the wing, they are far over the NBA's salary cap, and are limited to offering the veteran minimum, the figure the Spurs are believed already to have exceeded.

Because of Finley's status as a Bird free agent, the Spurs can outbid any other team for his services.

Heading into his 14th NBA campaign, Finley remains very much a part of the Spurs' immediate plans — even as the team signed another free-agent swingman, Roger Mason Jr., earlier this summer.

Finley, who started 61 games last season, averaged 10.1 points and shot 41.4 percent from the field, including 37 percent from 3-point range — numbers that were actually a step up from his 2006-07 campaign. Though his value on the NBA's free-agent market has been mild this summer, Finley already has turned down an offer to play in Europe next season.

Finley's agent, Henry Thomas, did not return a phone call from the Express-News on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Spurs' pursuit of another free-agent guard drags on as well.

Jannero Pargo, the primary backup to All-Star point guard Chris Paul in New Orleans last season, is considering an offer from the Spurs believed to start at $2 million. That figure represents roughly the remainder of the Spurs' mid-level exception, most of which went to sign Mason.

It is said Pargo is seeking a deal that would push him past the $2 million threshold. Pargo's agent, Mark Bartelstein, declined to say what other teams are interested in the 28-year-old guard.

“We're just trying to work through the process and come to a decision,” Bartelstein said Friday.

The Spurs appear to be operating on a similarly vague timetable when it comes to signing their three newest draft picks. There are growing indications they might end up inking just one of them — first-rounder George Hill, a backup point guard.

Spurs Announce Preseason Schedule

Spurs Announce Preseason Schedule

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs released their preseason schedule for the 2008-09 season today. The Silver and Black will play seven preseason games in preparation for the regular season.

San Antonio will open the preseason on the road in Houston against Yao Ming and the Rockets on Oct. 9. The Spurs return home the following night to take on Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets. The Silver and Black will then travel to Grand Rapids, MI, for a matchup with Rip Hamilton and the Detroit Pistons on Oct. 14, before making the trip to Cleveland for a test against LeBron James and the Cavaliers on Oct. 16. San Antonio returns home to host T.J. Ford and the Indiana Pacers on Oct. 18, followed up by a visit from Gilbert Arenas and the Washington Wizards on Oct. 22. The Spurs conclude their preseason schedule hosting Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat on Oct. 24.

All games will be aired live on WOAI-AM 1200 AM with Bill Schoening calling the action. The Spurs preseason home games can also be heard in Spanish on KCOR-AM 1300 with Paul Castro handling the play-by-play.

2008-09 San Antonio Spurs Preseason Schedule

Thursday, Oct. 9 at Houston Rockets Toyota Center 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 10 New Orleans Hornets AT&T Center 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 14 at Detroit Pistons Grand Rapids, MI (Van Andel Arena) 6:00 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 16 at Cleveland Cavaliers Quicken Loans Arena 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 18 Indiana Pacers AT&T Center 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 22 Washington Wizards AT&T Center 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 24 Miami Heat AT&T Center 7:30 p.m.

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