Monday, September 29, 2008

MySA: Hearing from Manu Ginobili, Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan, Roger Mason and Bruce Bowen

Joe Alexander

The Spurs opened training camp Monday in San Antonio with their annual media day - a gathering primarily for interviews and photos.

Gregg Popovich was sporting a beard and Manu Ginobili was smiling and walking without a limp.

It was also the first chance for many members of the San Antonio media to meet Roger Mason Jr. and some of the other new Spurs.

Listen to what they have to say and share your thoughts:

Audio: Manu Ginobili

Audio: Manu Ginobili in Spanish

Audio: Bruce Bowen

Audio: Tim Duncan

Audio: Roger Mason Jr.

Audio: Gregg Popovich

Express News: Pop says Manu will miss first month of regular season

Jeff McDonald: Pop says Manu will miss first month of regular season

For the first time, the Spurs have been able to quantify the cost of Manu Ginobili's offseason ankle surgery.

The star guard has been ruled out for all of November, and could miss as many as 25 games to start the regular season, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

"Manu will be out 20 to 25 games -- until mid-December at the latest," Popovich said Monday, the day before the Spurs open training camp.

As for the earliest Ginobili might suit up?

"It won't be in November," Popovich said.

Ginobili, 31, initially injured a ligament in his left ankle during the playoffs last season, and re-aggravated the malady while playing for Argentina in last month's Olympic Games. He underwent arthroscopic surgery Sept. 3 to correct a posterior impingement in the ankle, and at the time gave a timetable of eight-to-12 weeks for recovery.

The optimistic end of that timetable would have had Ginobili ready in time to start the regular season. For now, it appears the Spurs will approach Ginobili's return even more cautiously than that.

However long Ginobili is out, the loss is sure to have a noticeable effect on the Spurs. Ginobili averaged a team-high and career-best 19.5 points per game last season, en route to earning NBA Sixth Man of the Year honors.

Still, Ginobili arrived at Spurs headquarters Monday in high spirits. He joked to reporters that he now knows more about ankle surgery than he ever wanted to know.

"I feel good," said Ginobili, who wore no brace or any other support on his repaired left ankle. "I'm not playing or doing anything to put it at risk. But walking around, it just feels great."

Even Popovich was in a good mood Monday, despite the prospect of missing his leading scorer for perhaps the first quarter of the season. He called the timing of Ginobili's injury and subsequent surgery a blessing in disguise.

"Had he not hurt it in the Olympics, he probably would have done it 15, 25, 35 games into the season," Popovich said. "It could be a blessing that he's gotten operated on. They've gone in there and cleaned things out. His ankle will be in better shape than it's been in years, I would imagine."

As much as it sucks for Manu to miss a quarter of the season, I'd have to echo Pop's sentiments.

If Manu hadn't played in China, then nobody knows if he would've addressed the ankle in the offseason more than simply keeping off of it. Then he probably starts hitting the gym in October, takes the fall in December, and is out for the heart of the season. We all witnessed last season how well the Spurs stand to survive the playoffs without a healthy Ginobili.

It's not a best case scenario by any means, but at least the ankle has now been addressed. The Spurs will need to survive through the part of the season they are typically known for keeping pace anyways, and they will now have a chance to test out some much needed youth in Udoka, Mason, Hill, and possibly Stoudemire. And in true 6th man fashion, Manu coming back late may help revitalize the team in a time where they have historically lost focus.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Express News: Spurs' Mahinmi to miss part of camp

Spurs' Mahinmi to miss part of camp
Mike Monroe

Spurs center Ian Mahinmi will miss at least the first several days of training camp, which begins Tuesday, as he continues recovery from a sprained right ankle he suffered recently in informal workouts at the team's practice facility.

Mahinmi, a 6-foot-11, 230-pound big man from France who is entering his second season with the Spurs, spent the bulk of the 2007-08 season with the Spurs' Development League team, the Austin Toros. He played only six regular-season games with the Spurs, averaging 3.5 points and 0.8 rebounds.

Mahinmi showed up Friday at the team's preseason benefit golf tournament sporting a walking boot on his right leg. Spurs general manager R.C. Buford acknowledged the ankle sprain.

“Everybody wishes he were fit and ready to go,” Buford said, “but he's not ready right now. We're trying to be preventive, as we always are. It's an ankle sprain and a boot, so it's something we're being careful with.”

The Spurs selected Mahinmi in the first round of the 2005 NBA draft (28th overall). He spent the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons in the French professional league before signing a rookie scale contract with the Spurs last summer.

Mahinmi played 45 games with the Toros, averaging 17.1 points and 9.2 rebounds, leading the Toros to the D-League Finals.

Mahinmi was a member of the Spurs' entry in both the Las Vegas Summer Pro League and the Rocky Mountain Revue summer league and had been expected to get significant playing time in preseason games before suffering the ankle sprain. Now his development as a potential backup to both All-Star power forward Tim Duncan and starting center Fabricio Oberto has suffered a temporary setback.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

NBA Fanhouse: Current Top 50 - #25 Tony Parker

Once a spectacle of speed and decisiveness, San Antonio's mousy Tony Parker has turned himself into a bit of a "complete" point guard, degrading his dominance in certain skills to offer a varied arsenal. The shift hasn't exactly worked as planned -- Parker is less efficient this days -- but it has been necessary as the supporting cast of the Spurs weakens due to age (Bruce Bowen, Michael Finley) and free agent losses (Brent Barry).

For two seasons, '05-06 and '06-07, Parker actually had a claim as the king of the league's point guards. And while he's regressed over the past year, he's still among the invisible elite at the position.

What Parker did in '06 and '07: gave up the long jumper in large part, and focused on getting to the rim, where he finishes as well as any shortie. Prior to '05-06, one of every seven Parker FGAs was a three. For a poor outside shooter, that's too much. Over the two top seasons, Parker cut his threes to one every 30 shots. He barely took any threes at all. That's good.

But last season, he returned to the well: one out of 16 shots went for trois. It's low for the league's gunnerific point guards, but twice as frequent as Parker's apparent sweet spot. There was no individualistic reason for this: Parker shot an awful 25% on these, below even his awful 31% career mark. But at the team level, it makes sense that the injury to and brief trade of Barry had an impact: Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili create open threes, and someone needs to take them. Bowen continued to get (and hit) open shots, but he's taking less initiative from the corner than expected. By personnel, it seems Parker was forced into a little bit extra shooting work, and that didn't pay off for anybody.

The real problem with these threes: Parker is way too good under the rim to waste shooting possessions from inefficient spots. No PG in the league finishes in the paint like Parker, and almost no PG gets into the paint with such ease. Duncan's part of the Spurs' eternal "points in the paint" lead, but Parker's the difference-maker there. He shoots over 60% from inside, and has every season of his NBA maturity. 60% on a two-pointer, or 25% on a three? There's no question.

Parker does have to be careful not to become too predictable, though: his turnovers fluctuate, and that's one potential weakness in his driving game. He's not careless with the ball, but you're bound to offer up some easy steals when you put the head down every trip. No one cares about turnovers -- no one has seemingly noticed Jason Kidd has turned into the human "fast break the other way," and Steve Nash rarely gets chided for his carelessness with the ball. And Parker is much more protective than those two. But a turnover, if you can believe it, is worse than a missed longball.

When it seemed Parker had found his outside shot at age 24, I figured we could pencil him in as the third chipmunk in the coming Chris Paul-Deron Williams Wars. That outside shot didn't stay long. As such, while Parker is an unassailable talent and a remarkable floor leader, he's about the fifth best point guard in the NBA, instead of a challenger for the #1 spot. And again, he's only 26. Lots of wins left in this fellow.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sportsline: Young Point Guards Conducting Sweet Symphonies

By Tim Povtak

Point guards are like orchestra conductors. Even the great ones can't fully shine without the right people around them, but they sure make things run a lot more smoothly.

There may have been two average point guards starting in the NBA Finals last summer, but the best ones still led their teams to outstanding seasons.

Four of the top five points orchestrated their teams to at least 54 victories during the regular season. The only one who didn't win big was the enigmatic and often-injured Gilbert Arenas.

If you were starting an expansion team today, most general managers would make young center Dwight Howard, 22, their first pick. The second, though, would be young Chris Paul, 23, the No. 1 point guard in the league.

Here are the top 20 point guards in the NBA:

1. Chris Paul, New Orleans: Because he is on the short side, there was criticism originally when the Hornets took the 6-foot Paul with the fourth pick of the 2005 draft. How foolish that was. Remember Isiah Thomas? There is only praise now for the best point in the league. More than anyone, Paul is the reason the Hornets have gone from a mediocre team to a contending team.

2. Steve Nash, Phoenix: The two-time MVP may just be starting his downside, but there still is no other point guard in the league who can set up his teammates like he does. Despite the bad hair and weak defense, he makes up for it in leadership and the ability to run an offense.

3. Gilbert Arenas, Washington: Yes, he's an oddball at times, but he sure is fun to be around. His unpredictability is endearing, unless you are trying to coach him or play with him, and your future is tied to him. Another knee surgery this summer has everyone concerned, but if he returns healthy, he can lead the league in scoring because no one really can slow him.

4. Deron Williams, Utah: Taken one spot ahead of Paul in that 2005 draft, mainly because he was bigger. Although he may never score as much as Paul, he is a better defender and also distributes the ball well. Both were excellent picks, and both have potential to be point guards with great teams.

5. Tony Parker, San Antonio: It sure is easier to be a great point guard if you have a dominating player like Tim Duncan in the frontcourt. It makes Parker look even quicker than he is and more able to get where he wants on the floor. He is cool under pressure, which helped to make him so appealing to his high-profile wife.

6. Baron Davis, Los Angeles Clippers: Took the money and scooted out of Golden State so fast that his own head was spinning. The move assured that he'll finish as one of those big-number players who never was on a serious contender. Thought he would have been smart enough to talk with Elton Brand before he made the move.

7. Chauncey Billups, Detroit: Some of the luster he once had is eroding. His contract makes him untradeable, or the Pistons might have dealt him this summer. He peaked during those back-to-back trips to the Finals and just doesn't seem to have the hunger he once did.

8. Monta Ellis, Golden State: The departure of Baron Davis means this is Ellis' team now. Without Davis beside him, his statistics either will soar, or he will be exposed for his weaknesses, which is a possibility, too. Great opportunity for Ellis, but it's hard to see the Warriors winning -- especially now that he's going to miss the first two months of the season because of a severe ankle injury.

9. Jason Kidd, Dallas: For the starting point guard on the USA Olympic team, he is fading, long having passed his best years. Dallas gave up its future to get him last season, which is looking like a big mistake even though he is one of the all-time greats. Kidd still can deliver the ball, but he doesn't scare the defenses anymore. Never did learn to shoot.

10. Kirk Hinrich, Chicago: Watch for a comeback season after he struggled throughout the year of turmoil in Chicago. A happier team around him should make him shine because he didn't forget how to deliver the ball. He can be a really good point guard if he has productive people around him.

11. Jose Calderon, Toronto: He is looking for a big year now that often-sour T.J. Ford is in Indiana, clearing the way for Calderon to get more playing time with the Raptors. The addition of Jermaine O'Neal also will help him. If Calderon has a big year, the Raptors could be the surprise team in the East.

12. Mo Williams, Cleveland: Had a nice season when he averaged 17.2 points and 6.3 assists for Milwaukee. Is looked to as the guard who can finally help LeBron James.

13. Andre Miller, Philadelphia: Always a high-assist guy but has never had any playoff success. The addition of Brand really gives Miller someone who can score off his passes. Miller, 32, is slowing, but he might be one of those point guards who can adjust his game and continue to show his leadership.

14. Devin Harris, New Jersey: Came in the trade for Kidd, and the Mavs already regret letting him get away. At age 25, he is just beginning to start his best years. Should develop into one of the best points in the East.

15. Raymond Felton, Charlotte: Was confused about what position he played in the past, but he has shown progress. New coach Larry Brown will drive him nuts, like he does every point guard he coaches. Brown also will make him better. Felton's scoring will dip, and his head might explode.

16. Mike Bibby, Atlanta: Became a stabilizing influence once he joined the Hawks, putting them into the playoffs. The team that passed on taking Paul and Williams in that 2005 draft has a guy good enough to help its young, athletic players succeed. Expectations for this team are rising.

17. Derek Fisher, Los Angeles Lakers: Has seen better days and his numbers don't reflect much, but considering how often he has been to the NBA Finals, he must be doing something right.

18. Leandro Barbosa, Phoenix: Not a true point guard. He doesn't get many minutes there behind Nash, but if Barbosa was a starting point somewhere else people really would enjoy him. So explosive, he can dazzle you. We'd love to see what would happen if he was given the ball for an extended period.

19. Rajon Rondo, Boston: Point guard for the champs has come a long way in his two seasons. He was helped considerably by coach Doc Rivers, a former point guard himself who taught Rondo to stay out of the way of the Big Three. Rivers' confidence in Rondo paid off.

20. Jameer Nelson, Orlando: Smart enough to know that Howard should be his focus, but also is learning his two forwards also want the ball. Nelson's problem will be keeping all three happy as a low-profile point guard.

Fox Sports: Many Teams Still Relying On Old-Timers To Contribute

San Antonio

The Spurs are faced with the prospect of a matching pair of wingmen losing their chops in tandem. The continued defensive excellence of Bruce Bowen (37) is a must for the Spurs to seriously challenge for control of the Western Conference. Bowen will undoubtedly be as tough and as on-the-edge of foul play as ever, but his speed and quickness are in question. Last year he showed signs that he can no longer stay in touch with fleet-footed opponents, a failing that should be exacerbated this season. From now on, Bowen's main function will be to hold the fort until Ime Udoka is ready to step up and replace him. It says here that Udoka is still a year away.

Meanwhile, Michael Finley (35) hasn't played adequate defense in many moons. But as long as he can pull-up going left, then fade and shoot with a high degree of success (especially in clutch situations), he can be a valuable part-time performer. However, as his ability to play defense continues to decrease, his shooting percentage must increase in order to justify more than occasional playing time. With only DerMarr Johnson and Roger Mason behind him and with Manu Ginobili recovering from foot surgery, Finley will get more time than he deserves early on.

Finley's relative decrepitude bodes ill for the Spurs.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Charley.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Yahoo: Spurs sign George Hill;_ylt=AlcAQhc2akpmTks_.JtW2zm8vLYF?slug=ap-spurs-hill&prov=ap&type=lgns

Spurs sign George Hill
By CLIFF BRUNT, AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—The San Antonio Spurs signed first-round pick George Hill on Tuesday, Hill’s agent said.

The Spurs took Hill out of IUPUI with the 26th selection, but didn’t have to sign him. Michael Whitaker said Hill participated in summer league with the Spurs and had been working out in San Antonio since Aug. 18, despite the fact that he hadn’t officially signed.

“The Spurs are a championship organization,” Whitaker said. “They told us all along they wanted to get the deal done, they just wanted to use the time to sign free agents. We just took them at their word.”

Now that Hill has signed, the first two years of the deal are guaranteed. The rookie scale shows that Hill would make $1.22 million his first year and $1.31 million his second year. The Spurs have team options the next two years.

Hill, a 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 21.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists last season for the Jaguars. He declared himself eligible for the draft after his junior year, and performed well enough in workouts to put himself in position to get selected.

Whitaker needed to reassure Hill that the deal was going to happen.

“It’s not common for first-rounders to go that long, but I told George, ‘You got drafted by a unique team,”’ Whitaker said.
Took long enough. Talk about waiting until the last minute.

Monday, September 22, 2008

San Antonio Business Journal: Spurs Are Facing Big Hurdles In Hard Times

Team’s parent looking for ways to expand audience
by W. Scott Bailey
San Antonio Business Journal

The San Antonio Spurs entered the 2007-08 NBA season as defending champions. But the four-time champs failed to sell out all of their home games or to get past the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

Now the team’s parent company, Spurs Sports & Entertainment, is working to create a more diverse market-penetration strategy in an effort to connect with a larger potential base of support. Some marketing experts caution, however, that the parent company of the Spurs faces multiple challenges.

In July, Spurs Chairman Peter Holt announced a series of top-level front-office changes within the organization. They included the promotion of Rick Pych to president of SS&E.

Now, with the 2008-09 season only weeks away, Pych says SS&E officials are working to find more Spurs fans.

“The initial mission is to step back and do the research,” Pych explains. “We’ve done a pretty good job of knowing who our customers are. We haven’t done as good a job of knowing who our potential customers are.

“That’s what we want to find out. Who are they? How do we get them to our events?”

SS&E has tapped The Atkins Group, a San Antonio-based advertising agency, to help it reach a larger audience. Atkins replaces Creative Civilization, which resigned the account this summer after working with the organization for more than a decade.

Pych says Atkins will play an especially key role in the research effort.

“We’re going to spend a lot more time figuring out how to reach that 70 percent of the city that probably has not been to AT&T Center,” he says.

Atkins principal Steve Atkins says his agency will also help the Spurs find new places to deliver their messages.

“We hope to bring a lot of interactive and online strategies to the table,” Atkins says.
No piece of cake

The Spurs say the way they need to do business moving forward requires some shift in strategies.

“So much has changed in the last 10 years in how you reach people,” Pych explains. “It used to be that if you put an ad in the local paper and on local TV, you probably covered everyone. But that doesn’t work anymore.”

The plan, he says, is to put more emphasis on new media outlets. Atkins, Pych says, will be key in helping SS&E find those outlets and make the connections.

“The Spurs’ promotional efforts can and should be reaching specific larger audiences — not just with more messages or greater media volume, but rather more targeted messages to more specific lifestyle segments with more relevance,” Atkins explains.

But one veteran marketing executive familiar with the Spurs says Atkins is taking on the Spurs account at a tough time.

“You had four championships in nine years, the economy was in better shape, AT&T was still (based) in San Antonio,” says the marketing executive about the team Creative Civilization worked with in recent years. “But all of that has now changed.”

Earlier this year, AT&T Inc., for which the Spurs’ arena is named, did indeed announce its plan to relocate the company’s headquarters and some 700 top-level personnel to Dallas.

Since then, there have been more concerns raised about the state of the national economy, and about more potential belt tightening among Americans.

“There will be some challenges. This is no piece of cake,” says Al Aguilar, co-founder of Creative Civilization. “But San Antonio has a love affair with this (Spurs) team that dates back to the ’70s.”

Atkins agrees these are more complex times.

“The reality is economic pressures are growing and the discretionary income available for family-based entertainment is going to be more and more stretched by gas prices, food prices and such,” he contends. “Right now, we are also bombarded, involved and distracted by a national election.”

Atkins adds, “I believe all of this creates the need to be very different, relevant and value-oriented in messaging the Spurs game experience. Campaign efforts will need to compete aggressively for those entertainment dollars... .”

Pych acknowledges that there are some hurdles ahead. “People do have more (entertainment) choices and less free time, it seems, than ever before,” he says.

How do the Spurs break through the clutter and address any concerns?

“It starts with the research,” Pych says. “We’ve got to know the market better. But I think we also need to take a look in the mirror, to see if the product that we are offering needs something different to appeal to more people.”

Pych says the SS&E may also have to consider making some “infrastructural changes” at AT&T Center in order to attract more fans.

“The research will hopefully help tell us some of this, how we can reach more people, how we may need to change with the times,” Pych says.

Meanwhile, Pych says SS&E will also be working closely with Atkins to create a new brand for SS&E that should benefit its teams and AT&T Center.

“We’re all excited about the opportunities,” Pych says. “There is a lot of enthusiasm and passion about this.”

Says Atkins about his firm’s opportunity to work with the Spurs: “It represents the big time.” Spurs Announce 2008-09 Television Schedule

View The Full TV Schedule

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs today announced the television schedule for their 2008-09 NBA season with 71 locally produced broadcasts on KMYS, KENS 5 and Fox Sports Southwest.

This season, Spurs over-the-air partners KMYS (MY-35) and KENS 5 will combine to broadcast 40 games in High Definition, up from 10 last season.

“With such a quality team on the court, the majority of games in HD and an entertaining announce team in place, our broadcasts will definitely be a major event every night,” said Spurs Director of Broadcasting Mike Kickirillo.

Local coverage tips-off Oct. 29 on KMYS when the Spurs host the Phoenix Suns for an opening night match-up. KMYS will carry a total of 30 games in High Definition, including expanded coverage with 23 pre-game and eight post-game shows.

Spurs partner KENS 5 will broadcast a total of 10 games in High Definition, beginning its 2008-09 coverage with the Oct. 31 road game at Portland. In addition to carrying both home and away games, KENS 5 will also host eight Spurs pre-game shows.

Fox Sports Southwest will carry 31 Spurs games, including a match-up against defending NBA Champion Boston Celtics on Mar. 20. Fox Sports Southwest will broadcast all home games and the majority of road games in High Definition, with a complete schedule announced at a later date.

Play-by-play announcer Bill Land and analyst Sean Elliott return to call all locally televised Spurs games, with Silver Stars Head Coach Dan Hughes periodically filling in as an analyst.

All Spurs games can be heard on WOAI, 1200 AM, with play-by-play announcer Bill Schoening returning for his eighth season behind the mic. Paul Casto returns for his 15th season as the Spanish voice of the Spurs, calling games for KCOR, 1350 AM.

Spurs pre-season tickets are on sale now and great season ticket packages are still available for the 2008-09 regular season by visiting or calling (210) 444-5050.

NOTE: Viewers must have an HD television or HD converter to view games in High Definition. Depending on cable provider, HD programming may not be available.

Express News: Spurs Commit To More HD

Jerry Garcia - Express-News

Anyone who has or is going to plunk down their hard-earned money for a digital TV set can count on watching at least 70 percent of the San Antonio Spurs' 82 games in high-definition this season — with 40 HD games on local TV.

Because 17 games will be shown by two broadcasters at the same time, the Spurs actually have 99 telecasts (60 of them in HD) of their 82 games (scroll down for the breakdown of games)

The Spurs schedule was originally announced in early August with the NBA's national TV partners — ABC/ESPN and TNT — picking the games they wanted first with local telecasts assignments to be determined at a later date.

That later date was Sept. 8 when the Spurs quietly put out the rest of the local TV schedule on their web site. The franchise held up the formal announcement to this week — Wednesday to be precise — so HD plans could be finalized among the local TV partners.

The complete TV schedule can be found at the Spurs web site(click here).

Once again, KENS will get 10 games with all scheduled for telecast in high-definition at 1080i. TNT will also show games in the 1080i HD format but they only have five games.

Fox Sports Net Southwest will telecast the largest bulk of Spurs games this season with 31 with their HD plans yet to be announced. KMYS, a MyNetworkTV affiliate on UHF channel 35 — while UHF still exists — has the rights to 30 over-the-air games. All of KMYS' games will be shown in 720p.

ESPN has nine games and ABC gets six games, also in 720p.

The Spurs have produced a handful of games in HD in the past two seasons but committing to HD broadcasts meant a significant financial investment by the Spurs. The team leases the equipment used to produce the telecasts (production trucks, cameras, etc.) that some TV industry estimates claims add at least $7,500 to production costs.

If they produced all 71 local broadcasts in HD, that means the Spurs would have put up nearly $532,500 to beef up local coverage.

KMYS is ready for HD. The station been airing HD content since 2004 and has fully upgraded its' master control room for digital technology, most recently showing three of the Dallas Cowboys preseason games in high-definition in August.

Nationwide, Fox Sports Net has made a commitment to HD content over the past five years starting with 200 HD telecasts in 2004 and doubling it every year since. FSN plans for all of its' 16 owned-and-operated regional networks to air round-the-clock HD starting in the first quarter of 2009.

It makes sense for the Spurs to increase HD game coverage according to sales experts. Even in tough economic times, sales of HDTVs have remained steady, according to NDP Group, which tracks retail sales trends.

Paul Gagnon, NDP's North American TV researcher, told audiences at a Los Angeles conference this week sales of LCD HDTVs are up 25 percent in 2008 with 30 million shipped to the United States — up by 25 percent compared to 2007.

Gagnon said 30 percent of all TVs sold in North America this year will be HD sets. Sales growth has been spurred both by consumers upgrading to digital TVs before the FCC-mandated digital switch in February 2009 and by lower prices.

Gagnon estimated that the average price for a 32-inch LCD TV could drop to as low as $499 by the holiday shopping season.

KMYS could get one more game, for a total of 31, added to its' scheduled. ABC has the Spurs' noon game on Sunday, March 22 at home against Houston tentatively penciled in their scheduled. That game could be picked up by KMYS if ABC decides to drop it.

Nine of the HD games on ESPN will be separately produced by the Spurs for broadcast on KENS, KMYS and FSN Southwest.

Here's the breakdown:

ABC (in HD): 6 games (2 home, 4 away—subject to change)

ESPN (in HD): 9 games (4 home, 5 away)

FSN Southwest (HD games to be announced): 31 games (15 home, 16 away)

NBA TV: 8 games (4 home, 4 away)

KENS (in HD): 10 games (5 home, 5 away)

KMYS (in HD): 30 or 31 games (18/19 home, 12 away—subject to change)

TNT (in HD): 5 games (1 home, 4 away)

The 17 games broadcast by 2 TV partners:

Oct. 29: vs. Phoenix, 7 p.m. (ESPN, KMYS)

Oct. 31: @Portland, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN, KENS)

Nov. 7: vs. Miami, 7 p.m. (ESPN, KMYS)

Nov. 17: @Los Angeles Clippers, 9:30 p.m. (FSN Southwest, NBA TV)

Dec. 2: vs. Detroit, 7:30 p.m. (KMYS, NBA TV)

Dec. 9: @Dallas, 7:30 p.m. (KMYS, NBA TV)

Dec. 17: @New Orleans, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN, KMYS)

Jan. 2: vs. Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. (FSN Southwest, NBA TV)

Jan. 3: @Miami, 6:30 p.m. (FSN Southwest, NBA TV)

Jan. 14: vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 8 p.m. (ESPN, KENS)

Jan. 27: @Utah, 8 p.m. (FSN Southwest, NBA TV)

Feb. 24: vs. Dallas, 7:30 p.m. (KMYS, NBA TV)

Feb. 27: vs. Cleveland, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN, KENS)

March 1: @Portland, 7 p.m. (ESPN, KMYS)

March 4: @Dallas, 8 p.m. (ESPN, KMYS)

March 20: vs. Boston, 7:30 p.m. (FSN Southwest, NBA TV)

March 29: @New Orleans, 7 p.m. (ESPN, FSN Southwest)

Express News: A Spurs mistake from the other side

A Spurs mistake from the other side
Buck Harvey

The Spurs missed on Josh Howard. His opinion of “The Star-Spangled Banner” doesn't change that.

The Spurs should have drafted him in 2003. The only issue would have been how the Spurs would have eventually fit him into their payroll, but they would have found a way.

He's too good. They would be better now — and maybe favorites — if they had him.

But as Howard acts less mature with every word he utters, there's reason to wonder if he was the real loser of that draft-day decision. Had he been with the Spurs all these years, he would have won championships; he might have helped the team win another, too, in 2006.

He also would have hung around with another Wake Forest alum, and he would have plugged into an attitude that believes boring news is good news. This is where Howard's image and life would have detoured.

Had he been with the Spurs all these years, would he be known for anything except winning?

Today he's known for being Cheech and wrong. Last spring, during the playoffs, Howard chose to talk about marijuana use on the radio. During that same series he went against Avery Johnson's directive and had more fun; he threw himself a party.

Then came some street racing, which will send him to a North Carolina court this week. And now comes his infamous opinion of the national anthem.

The oh-say-can-YouTube clip: Howard said he doesn't “celebrate this (bleep). I'm black.”

He will hear about this next season. Then he will earn about $10 million, and he will stand 82 times for “this bleep.”

Who knows? Maybe Mark Cuban is right. Talking to a cell-phone camera just before an Allen Iverson event, Howard could have simply been caught in a careless, flippant moment.

Either way, intent doesn't matter much, no matter how much Cuban tries to divert attention and place it on racist e-mailers. Howard, by any measure, has been a fool.

Howard showed a hint of this in college. According to reports, marijuana rumors hurt his draft status. But the Spurs didn't pass on him because of this. They were less impressed with him than they were other prospects, and besides, they were going after Jason Kidd at the time and wanted the cap room.

The Spurs traded out of the first round, and the Mavericks responded by taking Howard with the very next pick. Howard proved the Spurs were wrong from the tip.

He was a quiet workman, content to take what Dirk Nowitzki didn't want. Able to rebound in a small lineup, able to defend and score and run, Howard would have been perfect with the Spurs.

But they would have been perfect for him, too. And this goes back to Tim Duncan and the culture of his locker room.

When Kurt Thomas arrived last spring, he looked around and thought he had been traded to a Rotary Club. He laughed and told friends the Spurs were unlike any team he had been on.

Thomas also liked them for this very reason. Thomas re-signed, in part, because he enjoys a smart and professional locker room.

This environment can't change everyone. The Spurs, for example, didn't alter even one of Dennis Rodman's brain cells.

They aren't miracle workers, and they know it. They opted not to try to trade for Ron Artest, for example, because they saw him as too far over the edge. The Spurs' success in creating a roster of grown-ups is mostly about signing grown-ups.

Still, the Spurs have always felt a player can be influenced by teammates, and history says that has happened at times. Stephen Jackson wasn't shooting revolvers in strip-club parking lots when he was in San Antonio.

Howard, in comparison, would have been a minor tweak. He instead would have been a rookie surrounded by veterans, and he would have improved as Tony Parker did. He would have adapted to some standards, and he would have understood the basic Duncan premise.

The less you have to say, the better.

Howard likely would have thrived, and he would have won. And when asked to comment on the radio or by cell phone this past year, five years of training would have kicked in.

Wake guys don't say anything crazy, do they?

One of your typical think-harder-than-you-need-to articles from Buck. Sometimes this guy can really nail it; this doesn't seem to be one of those times. We need the season to start already.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

AZStarNet: Salim Now a Spur

Greg Hansen

Salim Stoudamire has escaped pro basketball’s burial grounds — the Atlanta Hawks — and now will play for a winner.

The ex-Wildcat shooting star has signed with the San Antonio Spurs and is expected to replace the three-point shooting threat of Brent Barry and perhaps Robert Horry.

In three years with the dismal Hawks, Stoudamire averaged just 17 minutes per game and was often slowed by a chronic ankle injury. His career average is eight points per game.

Perhaps an organization as effective as the Spurs will change Stoudamire’s career path. Winning is contagious, right? Perhaps Salim’s rep as a clubhouse malcontent will change — it will probably have to change; he will have to adapt — as he becomes a role player on a team with superstars Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan.

If he does, Salim could spent another 10 years in the league as a Steve Kerr-type specialist and make millions of dollars.

Breaking news. Looks like the Spurs could possibly be trying to fill the gap left by Barry. Also good to see some more youth hit the bench, although this guy will have to get his attitude straight if he's gonna be a Spur.

Either way, it's another interesting factor in what seemed to otherwise be a wrapped-up offseason.

For those unfamiliar with Salim, here's the player profile:

Saturday, September 20, 2008

TSN: Never Count Out San Antonio

By Tim Chisholm

Here's a tip for the upcoming season: Don't count out the San Antonio Spurs. Aside from their tradition of winning a title every other year this team still has one of the most underrated operations running. They've got Tim Duncan, the best player of his generation as well as the most decorated. They've got Gregg Popovich, one of the greatest and most respected NBA coaches ever.

They've got Manu Ginobili, the most dominant international player ever (sorry Dirk). They've got Tony Parker, one of the most dominant point guards in the NBA today who significantly ups his effectiveness in the post-season. They've basically got every reason to think that they can nab one more title before Duncan and co. are put out to pasture and they may ride their under-the-radar status to just that goal.

Of course, here is where the chorus chimes in insisting that the team is too old, too slow and too underpowered to go against the Hornets, Lakers or Rockets. Of course, the devil's advocate could argue that this team has more experience and Championship pedigree than all of those teams put together. This team has never opted to pattern themselves after the fleeting trends of the NBA. Popovich has always had this team playing in a way that is most effective for them. He plays to his player's strengths and doesn't try to make this unit into something its not. They were two wins away from the NBA Finals last season and they have shown no reason why they can't surpass that hurdle this season like they have so many times before.

The first reason why that isn't such a stretch in thinking is the presence of Duncan. People have been looking to write him off for years now as being a step slower and unable to match-up with the best power forwards in the NBA. The thing is, Duncan never played a speed game, never relied on any athleticism to win, and as a result there is no reason to think he can't play deep into his thirties and still be more effective than many of the jumping-jack power forwards currently playing the game. He simply uses his alarmingly high basketball I.Q. to beat his opponents mentally as well as physically. He paces himself throughout the season so that he is at his best for the Playoffs, and last season he played 95 of a possible 99 games (including the Playoffs) and shows no signs of letting age impede his productivity. He's averaged 79.3 games per regular season the last three years and looks as durable as ever. People may try to insist that he can't do it like he did anymore and yet all he does is keep on winning. The death-watch is starting to get really tired in San Antonio.

Of course, if people aren't talking about the age of Duncan they are talking about the age of the rest of his team. With guys like Michael Finley (35), Bruce Bowen (37), Kurt Thomas (36) and Jacque Vaughn (33) playing significant roles for this team people are quick to dismiss this collection as too old to compete in today's NBA. Well, aside from the fact that the last four NBA Champs have hardly been the spring chickens of the league (San Antonio twice, Miami and Boston), San Antonio is slowly but surely bolstering their lineup with carefully selected youths.

This summer they drafted George Hill out of IUPUI, a heady point guard who'll tutor under Parker and Vaughn to eventually become Parker's full time backup. They signed Roger Mason Jr. in free agency after he had a mini-breakout year in Washington in Agent Zero's absence. He'll be brought on to eventually replace Finley as the backup two-guard on this team. He'll be joined on the wing by the young Ime Udoka, the four-year pro the team signed last summer to tutor under defensive stalwart Bruce Bowen. While none of these guys are looked at as future stars, this team is far more interested in keeping its bench fresh while it still has three All-Star players on its starting lineup. When those stars start to wither the team will look to replace them. For now all the team needs is a piece here and there to keep the second-unit fresh.

While powers rise and fall throughout the Western Conference the Spurs have remained a force since the day Tim Duncan arrived in the 1997 NBA Draft. Their star has never faded and their Championship pedigree has never dulled. If falling two wins short of the NBA Finals one year after winning it all is a failure to some eyes then it is probably time to get those eyes checked. This team may one day have to suffer through the trials of rebuilding, but that day is not today.


PG - Tony Parker

Despite going into his eighth professional season in the NBA, Parker is still only 26 years old. He is a big reason why when this team has to go about reimagining itself after Tim Duncan retires it won't have to fall into obscurity to do so. Parker may not be the statistical beast that Chris Paul or Deron Williams is, but he knows how to play his game and he knows how to use it to beat his opponent. He's made a career of torching Hall of Fame point guards in the post-season, from Gary Payton in 2002 to Steve Nash in 2008 and he's showing no signs that he'll stop anytime soon. He's already knocked Paul and Williams out of the Playoffs in their short careers and has also made quick work of Mike Bibby, Andre Miller and Stephon Marbury. He may not garner the same celebrity of the other big-name point guards in the NBA, but his collection of rings and trophies will no doubt provide him with an easy night's sleep as recompense.

SG - Manu Ginobili

Everyone knows the recipe by now: start the season with Ginobili, move him to the bench, start him again mid-way through the Playoffs. This year, however, the team must start the season without their Argentine star while he recovers from left ankle surgery. In his place Michael Finley will hold down the fort but for all intents and purposes Ginobili is the starter here, even if he only starts half of his games. That, though, could be the cause for concern - if there is one - in San Antonio this season. While much of the negativity surrounding this team is bluster, an injured Ginobili is never a welcome sight. That fact is amplified when one considers that he has become the most productive regular-season player on this team. He is generally instrumental in keeping this team in the race until they make their annual late-season surge towards the top of the Conference. Perhaps the rest afforded him at the start of the season will keep him fresh for the end run, but if he can't come back at full strength it could force this team to re-think it's strategy for the 82-game marathon.

SF - Bruce Bowen

Has he lost a step defensively? Sure, making him a top-five man-on defender instead of the number one in the league. Bowen is the league's consummate role player, filling a very narrowly defined role (lock-up your man, hit threes) to perfection for years. Udoka, his heir-apparent, will probably never be able to so sublimely blend into what it is that the Spurs do but for right now the team is just going to keep riding Bowen until he has nothing left. He's the perfect model of a player who keeps his career going by learning the game as well as playing it. He's a tactician (some argue in the dirtiest ways possible) and he's more-or-less floor bound, but he's been more instrumental to several Championship runs that most of today's superstars ever will be.

PF - Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan has won one more title and one less MVP than Larry Bird. He's won two more titles and two less MVP awards than Wilt Chamberlain. He's nabbed two more titles than Walt Frazier and Hakeem Olajuwon. When talking about Duncan, confining him to the era in which he played no longer suffices. Duncan is a player that exists purely within the realm of "All-Time". He's made a career out of winning. While he may not have received the attention that Shaquille O'Neal or Kevin Garnett did, he never had the valleys that their careers have had, either. He's the greatest power forward of all time and it behooves anyone who loves the game of basketball to absorb every game they can see him play because it isn't often that one gets to see true greatness in this generation.

C - Kurt Thomas

Nabbing Thomas last year from the Sonics was a wonderful move to fortify this team's frontcourt. Resigning him on the cheap this year was even better. Thomas is one of the few NBA big men that can still play post defense without relying solely on shot blocking. He fits this team and their approach to the game like a glove. By splitting time with Fabricio Oberto it keeps his body from taking the physical toll that would render him less effective during the Playoffs because like so many of the components on this team, that is where he's really meant to shine. At this point in his career he couldn't be in a better place to maximize his talents.

Been slacking lately. Finally having some new articles pop up now that we're getting closer to camp and preseason, so hopefully things should pick up around here as well.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Wages of Win Journal: Robinson The Most Productive Center Since The '80's

From The Wages Of Wins Journal

The Best NBA Center in my Student’s Life

My students this semester look to be about twenty years old. This means that they were born in the late-1980s, or sometime around the time when I was a college student (and yes — as I rapidly approach forty — that makes you feel a bit old).

After writing my last post - comparing Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing (the latest Hall-of-Fame centers) - I started to wonder: Who is the best center in the lives of my students?

If start the clock sometimes in the eighties we have a few candidates. But I think two stand above all others.

The first center I am thinking of has the following characteristics:

-More than $250 million in career earnings
-Nine times named to the first team All-NBA team
-One MVP award
-Four times played for the NBA champion

These same characteristics were as follows for the second center:

-About $118 million in career earnings
-Four times named to the first team All-NBA team
-One MVP award
-Twice played for the NBA champion

When we look at salaries, awards, and championships, it’s pretty clear the first center is number one. But when we look at the Wages of Wins metrics. a different story is told.

Admiral vs. Shaq

Table One: Comparing the Career Averages of Shaquille O’Neal and David Robinson

Table One compares the career averages - across the box score statistics and Win Score - for Shaquille O’Neal (center #1) and David Robinson (center #2). When we look at the individual stats, we see that Shaq offered more in terms of shooting efficiency from the field, points scored, rebounds, and assists. The Admiral had the advantage in free throw shooting, steals, turnovers, blocked shots, and personal fouls. When we put the whole picture together - via Win Score - we see that Robinson comes out ahead.

How does this difference translate into wins?

Table Two: Comparing the Career Performances of David Robinson and Shaquille O’Neal

Table Two compares each player in terms of Wins Produced and WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes]. Through the 2007-08 season, Shaq had played 3,401 more minutes in his career. Consequently, the Wins Produced story is quite similar (each produced a bit more than 250 wins in his career).

When we turn to WP48, though, we see that Robinson has posted the better mark. How much better? Had Shaq’s WP48 been equivalent to the Admiral’s, he would have produced 31.4 additional wins in his career.

And by making one change to his game, Shaq could have achieved this production level. For his career Shaq has hit 52% of his free throws. In contrast, Robinson connected on 74% of his shots from the line. Has Shaq matched Robinson’s efficiency from the line, he would have produced 32.9 additional wins in his career and posted a 0.365 career WP48. Robinson’s career mark was 0.363, so we see that Shaq’s inconsistency at the charity stripe could be considered the one factor that held him back.

Perceptions of Robinson

Although Shaq was less productive, it’s still the case that he has been paid more and received more awards. Part of the difference in pay can be attributed to Shaq playing in more recent years and generally playing in a larger market. The awards, though, are probably a different story.

Table Two not only reports the performance of Robinson and O’Neal, but also the average performance of their teammates (or everyone else on the team not named The Admiral or Shaq). To give some perspective to these numbers, in 2007-08 the average WP48 of the teammates (or non-stars) on an NBA team was 0.076. In Shaq’s first two years - and in Miami in the first part of 2007-08 - his teammates were below average. In every other season, though, O’Neal was able to play with above average teammates. In fact in nine seasons his teammates WP48 surpassed the 0.100 mark.

Above average teammates was also the norm for Robinson, but only after Tim Duncan arrived in 1997. Prior to Duncan’s arrival, Robinson’s teammates posted an average WP48 of 0.076. In other words, unlike Shaq, for much of his career Robinson did not have an exceptional team around him. As a consequence, Robinson’s teams did not win as often as the team’s employing Shaq. And one suspects - like we saw with Kevin Garnett before he arrived in Boston - the failings of Robinson’s teammates dimmed the perceptions of the Admiral’s performance.

As I have noted in the past, the purpose of player statistics is to separate a player from his teammates. In other words, the analysis of player statistics should prevent us from confusing the performance of the team from the performance of the player. And when we look at all the stats - including Shaq’s woeful performance at the line - it appears that despite the edge in championships, awards, and money, Shaq is not quite as productive as The Admiral.

Okay, the Admiral tops Shaq. But across the last twenty years, is Robinson even the best Spur? To answer this question, let’s look back at Table One, where the career statistical averages of Duncan are also reported. As one can see, Robinson offered more in his career. If we turn to Wins Produced we see that Duncan has produced 211.9 wins in 30,610 career minutes. This works out to a WP48 of 0.332. This is about what Shaq has done across his entire career, although we have to remember that Shaq’s career numbers are deflated by his last two seasons. If Duncan insists on playing until the bitter end, his career numbers will also take a hit.

What about The Dream?

What about the subjects of the last post, Olajuwon and Ewing? Ewing - who was still very good - offered less than Olajuwon, Shaq, Duncan, and Robinson. When we look at Olajuwon, though, we see that he produced 272.1 career wins. This mark bests the other four players we considered. But Olajuwon played nearly 10,000 more minutes in his career than Robinson. If we turn to WP48, we see that Robinson’s career mark of 0.363 easily tops Olajuwon’s mark of 0.295.

Of course, some might notice that Robinson didn’t keep playing until his productivity descended into the average range. In other words, had Robinson - like Shaq and Olajuwon - played until he couldn’t play anymore, perhaps the Admiral’s career numbers would be lower. Although this might be true, we should also note that Robinson not only was better across his career, he was better at the peak of his career as well. To see this point consider how many times each of these players surpassed a WP48 of 0.400 or 0.0300:

Robinson: +0.400 in three season, +0.300 in 11 seasons
O’Neal: +0.400 in one season, +0.300 in 12 seasons
Olajuwon: +0.400 in one season, +0.300 in 9 seasons
Duncan: never surpassed 0.400, +0.300 in 8 seasons
Ewing: never surpassed 0.300 or 0.400
This list reveals that Robinson, at his peak, surpassed the performance of any of the other centers we considered. And that includes Olajuwon.

Let me close by considering an argument people often offer in evaluating basketball players. Often when considering whether player A is better than player B, people look at how the two players performed against each other. Although this approach might work in a sport like boxing or tennis, it’s not appropriate in basketball. Basketball is a five-on-five sport. What matters is how a player contributes to his team’s success, not how he performs relative to one person on another team. And when we consider each player’s contribution to team success, it looks like The Admiral was the most productive center in the NBA since the 1980s.

Friday, September 5, 2008

USA Today: Ginobili Putting Off Surgery Put Spurs "At A Stark Disadvantage"

Don't count on Olympics hangover for NBA stars
By Chris Colston

Now that Team USA has won Olympic gold for the first time since 2000, players can turn their attention to the NBA season, which tips off Oct. 28.
They will get a respite until training camps begin next month. But it's natural to wonder how the Olympic experience will affect the league's stars.

The wear and tear has sometimes led to Olympians breaking down the following NBA season. In 2004-05, Richard Jefferson played in just 31 games because of injury. In 1996-97, Charles Barkley played 53 games in an injury-plagued season. And following the 2006 world championships in Japan, LeBron James, Elton Brand, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade struggled with various ailments.

But often, Olympians who logged the most minutes have gone on to productive years:

•In 2004-05, Allen Iverson led the NBA in scoring; (30.7 points per game) and that same season, Stephon Marbury started all 82 games for the first time in his career.

•In 2000-01, Vince Carter finished with his highest career scoring average (27.6), Gary Payton averaged 41.1 minutes played, and Jason Kidd led the league in assists.

•In 1996-97, Payton, Scottie Pippen and Karl Malone started 82 games. Reggie Miller started 81.

•In 1992-93, Michael Jordan led the league in scoring (32.6 points per game), Barkley was league MVP and Malone started 82 games.

"I think it's one of the misnomers of the Olympics that the players will somehow be physically fatigued," says ABC/ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy. "If you look at their minutes played per game, it's certainly not tiring. They would probably be more tired if they went through a normal workout getting ready for the season."

NBA coaches can thank Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski for distributing playing time across the roster. Ten players averaged at least 11 minutes per game. James led the USA with an average of 24.8 minutes played.

Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry notes James has trained and played for USA Basketball the past few years. "Overall, LeBron's recovery after each of these cycles has been pretty remarkable," Ferry says. "Regardless, over the next several weeks we will get a good feel for where his body is and make a plan accordingly."

Van Gundy coached Olympian Allan Houston after the 2000 Games, and the guard played 78 games the following season. Van Gundy says the mental fatigue of a lengthy overseas trip could be a bigger factor.

For players nursing injuries, however, Van Gundy says the Olympics could have a larger impact. Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant put off surgery on his finger to participate in Beijing, and San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili recently had surgery on his left ankle — for an injury he re-aggravated playing for Argentina.

"I'm not one to judge. But it's a fact — Ginobili putting off the inevitable surgery has put his team at a stark disadvantage," Van Gundy says. "He's certainly going to miss a good part of training camp, if not all of it, and he could miss some games."

Lakers spokesman John Black said Bryant expects to make a decision on when to have surgery soon.

But for most players, the Olympic experience is a benefit. "Staying in shape is critical," Van Gundy says, "and playing against good competition helps. Where would you rather get a run in, at UCLA or against the best the world has to offer?"

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Daily Basketball: Will Duncan Be Worth $21.3 Million In 2012?

Will Duncan be worth $21.3m in 2012?
By Jarrad Todd

Tim Duncan is the greatest power forward the game has ever seen. He is a perennial Allstar and MVP candidate. He has won four championship rings and will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. But will Tim Duncan be worth $21.3 million in 2012? The short answer - no.

During last season Duncan signed an extension that will see him don the Spur’s silver and black until 2012. At the time the general consensus was he did the Spurs a favour, by electing not to sign for the maximum allowable amount. However, the fact remains that he will be owed $62 million from 2010 to 2012, with a whopping $21.3m owed in the final year.

If Duncan really was genuine in his desire to assist with rebuilding he should have negotiated an extension that would pay him max money over the next year or two, then gradually decrease, so by 2012 his salary would be $12-13 million. This would have allowed the Spurs to re-tool around their aging, but relatively inexpensive big man.

As great as he still is, there is no doubt that by 2012 the Spurs will regret the extension that allows a 36 year old Duncan to eat up a third of their entire salary. Case in point, Shaquille O’Neal. When Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004, a year later at the age of 33 he signed a massive five year extension totalling $100 million. Seemed like the smart thing to do at the time, but two years and one championship later, they tried desperately to rid themselves of his rapidly diminishing skills and cap-killing contract. Fortunately for them, Phoenix took the bait and is now stuck with him for two more years at $40 million. Whilst it is unlikely that Duncan will meet the same fate as Shaquille O’Neal, due to the respect afforded to him by the city of San Antonio (and rightfully so), the San Antonio Spurs will ultimately suffer as a result.

One would have to assume that Duncan’s play will gradually fall off over the coming years, and by 2012 there is little doubt he will be nearing the end. But such a decline is natural, especially when you consider the amount of basketball his body has endured over the last decade.

So why did the Spurs feel it was necessary to pay him top dollar over the next five years, when his game is sure to decline? My guess, it was more of a ‘thanks for the memories’ gift, rather than good basketball business.

Over the last decade the Spurs have prided themselves on making smart basketball decisions both on and off the floor, which has directly led to their success. However, through the trading of Luis Scola, the passing up of legitimate talent in the 2008 Draft (Arthur, Greene, Chalmers, Chris Douglas-Roberts), and the overly generous extension to Duncan’s contract, it seems as though complacency has finally crept in to the San Antonio front office. These decisions will haunt the Spurs over the coming years and will ultimately lead to their gradual decline.

In one word...well.....yes.
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