The NBA season is over, and with the looming NBA lockout, it will be quite a while until San Antonio Spurs fans see the men in sliver and black back on the hardwood.
However, the looming lockout still hasn't stopped Vegas from giving the Spurs' odds at winning a fifth title next season, if there is one:
NBA odds start with Miami at 2/1 followed by Chicago as a 6/1 choice. Then it’s the Thunder, Lakers and Mavericks all at 7/1 rounding out the Top 5. The Celtics are lined at 8/1 while another perceived ‘old’ team, the San Antonio Spurs are 15/1.
"Old" team huh? Well sure the Spurs' core might be getting up there in age but the Spurs as a whole are younger than seasons past.
Regardless, I can't really see anything wrong with the teams ahead of the Spurs. Dallas won the title, and the rest of the teams are young, up-and-coming teams, that are poised to supplant the old guard of the Lakers, Spurs, and Celtics.
Thoughts Spurs fans? Like the odds Vegas gave or feel the Spurs' title hopes are all but over?
The NBA season is over, and with the looming NBA lockout, it will be quite a while until San Antonio Spurs fans see the men in sliver and black back on the hardwood.
Shaquille O' Neal retired leaving a huge - no pun intended - hole in the NBA.
O' Neal always had a certain fondness for San Antonio mainly because he went to high school at Cole. As his NBA career progressed, it became more of a love-hate relationship with the city and the San Antonio Spurs. He respected and idolized David Robinson and yet made up a reason to start a rivalry with him.
During the peak of his career, he ran in to Tim Duncan. Duncan would become his chief rival if he and Kobe could've gotten past their childish differences. In fact, you could argue that Duncan still was his biggest rival because he and Kobe never played each other in a game that mattered. With that in mind, let's roll through the five most memorable moments involving Shaq and the Spurs.
Let's just get it out of the way before we all throw up. If you'll remember, before .4, Duncan made the most improbable of shots over Shaq's out stretched arms. A friend of my brother's, who is a Lakers fan so he doesn't deserved to be named said he thought it was the best defense Shaq has ever played. Then Derek Fisher happened. Afterwards, Shaq twisted that dagger by saying "One lucky shot deserves another". Thanks for that, jerk. I was in L.A. last year and saw that quote on a shirt. If the person wearing it wasn't 12 years old, we may have had words. While we're here, why couldn't the San Antonio timekeeper have started the clock just a smidgen early. That's on you, San Antonio's version of Steve Bartman.
#4: Shaq Meets Mr. Robinson
Like I said earlier, Shaq didn't have a bigger rival early on (at least in his mind) than David Robinson. With that in mind I submit to you these highlights. When Shaq came in to the league, there's was no more difficult matchup for Shaq than the Admiral. The 90's crop of centers kind of remind me of the late 60's/early 70's group of heavyweight boxers. Olajuwon was like Ali because he was the best, Robinson like Smoking Joe because he was almost... ALMOST as good as Olajuwon and Shaq was like Foreman because he was younger, bigger and stronger than the other too, but not entirely ready (I realize the parallels aren't exact, but the point is, the 90's were a golden era for centers in the NBA). Patrick Ewing was the overrated guy that never actually won a big game. Also, notice in the clip during that J.R. Reid was once a half decent basketball player. It was for like half a season, but it happened.
#3: Shaq Eats Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood
San Antonio Spurs' General Manager R.C. Buford continues to scout international players overseas as he was present in Italy for the Adidas Eurocamp Day two. According to Aran Smith of NBADraft.net, Buford was present for day two of the event alongside other NBA general managers.
Day two of the 2011 adidas Eurocamp was another long, eventful day. Add Chris Wallace to the list of GMs (Kevin O'Connor, Bryan Colangelo, RC Buford, Darryl Morray, Masai Ujiri, John Hammond, Dell Demps, and David Kahn) making what has to be a camp record 9 GMs that came over for the event. Larry Bird and Indiana cancelled due to rain delays.
Smith went on to predict all of the young players in the camp are relatively young and all players would pull out of the NBA draft tomorrow. He also mentions the much talked about Brazilian Lucas Nogueira.
Well, I'm going to go there again and say that I don't think any of the kids that participated in the camp will be drafted in 2011. That is going out on a limb because if either Lucas Noguera or Bertans (who played today) stay in the draft, they will surely be selected. But I think pretty much all of the underclassmen participating here (Bertans, Lucas, Lavergne, Radosevic, Zubcic, Albicy) will end up pulling out of the draft tomorrow.
It seems that the evaluation for NBA prospects at this camp has become more workout oriented or analyzing prospects for future years plus players coming in with their National teams (Mario Hezonja for example).
What do you think Spurs fans? Is Buford there to really look at a player that can make an immediate impact next season or is he scouting talent for the future of the organization?
Fifteen days after the San Antonio Spurs' season ended, I wrote a piece called the San Antonio Spurs Offseason Guide. In the piece I listed some free agents I thought the Spurs should look into during the offseason.
One of those players was Nenad Kristic who recently finished playing this season with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Boston Celtics. This is what I wrote about Kristic at the time.
C Nenad Kristic: 7’0, 240lbs. 8.1ppg, 4.7rbd, 0.4blk.
Kristic has the size and passing ability that could help the frontline. He isn't as mobile on defense but can hit the 12-15' jump shot.
Well it turns out the idea of landing Kristic as a backup big man has vanished. The reason is because he will be playing the next two seasons overseas according to WelcomeToLoudCity.com.
Former Oklahoma City Thunder center Nenad Krstic, who was part of a trade with the Boston Celtics, has agreed to a two-year, $8.8-million deal to play for CSKA Moscow, according to a report by the Russian International News Agency. The move comes as no surprise, with the NBA headed toward an apparent lockout and Krstic, a native of Serbia, having already played pro ball extensively overseas.
Another player who most Spurs fans know would fill a huge gap in the big man rotation is Brazilian Nene. As I wrote last Tuesday (June 7), Denver's front office had intentions to resign Nene per the Denver Post. The following day, NBA National Writer Chris Tomasson tweeted more news on the Nene situation.
Sources say Nuggets deep into discussions with agent Dan Fegan to sign Nene to extension by June 30 and are optimistic extension to get done
Sources say preference of Nene, who can opt out of his contract by June 30, is to sign an extension and stay in Denver.
Nene, to make $11.6 million next season, can sign 3-year extension through 2014-15. He's in native Brazil now but expected back next week
I knew going in that the only way the Spurs could make a deal for Nene was most likely through a sign-and-trade route, but it looks as if Nene has pretty much been taken off the market as well. There are still plenty of free agent names available, but all teams must wait and see what the new CBA has in store for them, before any moves can be made.
Now with two big men off the market, who to you think the Spurs should target in the free agency market to address the Spurs' immediate need for a big man?
(Photos: TheVictoryFormation.com, TheSwamp51.WordPress.com)
It's a never-ending job for the San Antonio Spurs front office and their pursuit of basketball talent.
This time, Spurs GM R.C. Buford, along with Spurs' Dennis Lindsey, and Spurs' scout Claudio Crippa, are in Italy for the 2011 Adidas Eurocamp, where some of the best foreign talent display their basketball skills in hopes of catching the eye of an NBA GM or be drafted in the upcoming NBA draft.
A player attending Eurocamp is Brazilian big man Lucas Nogueira. Norgueira is 6'10”, has a 9'3” standing reach, 7'4” wingspan, 1'9” vertical. His name has been on Spurs fan's lips recently especially seeing how the Spurs need size as this past season proved.
Here is a write up on how Nogueira did at day one of the camp:
[T]he player receiving the most buzz who is actually fully participating in the camp is Lucas “Bebe” Nogueira. But, the buzz isn't all warmth and fuzz, with one GM saying, “[he's] So raw… So raw… and he's out there on the court laughing with all the guys – it's like, ‘get serious,' ” and others reaffirming that notion that he did not help himself at all with his first day showing.
Indeed Noguiera looked very raw and showed some questionable body language throughout the day.
Early on he looked very uncomfortable when forced to put the ball on the floor or pass and he failed to stand out going up against fellow lanky big man and camp teammate (Team 1) Bengaly Fofana.
As the day went on, in two five-on-five games, Bebe showed a bit better. First he registered 5 points, 5 rebounds and 4 blocks when going up against Sarra Camara and Team 4. Then, he exhibited a bit more offense going for 11 points and 5 rebounds against the Serbia U19 squad later in the day. His decision making left something to be desired, as did the lack of awareness and experience he showed on both ends of the floor.
All-in-all, without reading too much into day one, Nogueira probably showed talent evaluators a lot of what they expected to see considering his lack of polish, confirming his status as a long-term project.
Though Nogueira seemed to not have a great day one, here's hoping Buford and the rest of the Spurs' staff out in Italy find that hidden gem and once again surprise the NBA come draft day.
San Antonio Spurs' great James Silas' son Xavier Silas was one of the better offensive players in the college ranks at Northern Illinois. Last season he averaged 22 point per game as a senior.
Now as he is making his way to the NBA and working out for various NBA teams leading up to the NBA Draft, Silas says of all the Spurs players he has a close connection with, it's former Spurs player Avery Johnson, now head coach of the New Jersey Nets:
After my roundtable interview, head coach Avery Johnson wanted to see me in his office. As you know my dad, James Silas, was the first to have his number retired with the San Antonio Spurs, so growing up he would take me into the Spurs locker rooms, shoot arounds and practices. Avery Johnson happened to be the starting point guard at the time and ironically enough I formed the closest bond with him out of everyone. What is even more Ironic is that Avery was on the very first Spurs team to win a championship in 1999 and that was the year of the last lockout. I have looked up to him for a long time and It was good to see him in New Jersey doing so well, grab a hug and listen to him praise my game and tell me he thinks I will make it.
Silas is hoping his name will be called at the upcoming draft and if "The Little General" sees Silas making it to the NBA, how fitting would it be for the Spurs to draft the son of the of the franchise's greatest players.
Marv Albert. You can recognize him with his emphatic "Yes, and it counts!" line while watching NBA games on T.V. and today he celebrates his 70th birthday.
In a Q&A with the New York Post, when asked to reflect on some of his favorite television calls, Albert stated his favorite calls are game-winning shots which included shots from former San Antonio Spurs player Steve Kerr:
It’s usually a game-winning shot where you make the call and get out and let the crowd do the rest: Robert Horry against Sacramento in the conference finals; the NBA Finals shot by (John) Paxson to beat Phoenix;did the same for both Chicago and San Antonio in the NBA Finals.
Indeed Kerr did provide Spurs fans with some clutch shooting during his time in San Antonio and their march towards a title in 1999 and 2003 when Kerr was in silver and black.
And no Spurs fan can forget Kerr's three-point barrage in the 2003 playoffs versus the Dallas Mavericks.
With an outstanding college career at WVU, and making it to the 2010 NCAA Final Four, Da'Sean Butler suffered a crushing knee injury against Duke in the Final Four setting back his NBA career.
Though drafted by the Miami Heat, he was soon released and was signed by the San Antonio Spurs last season where he was assigned to the Spurs' D-League affiliate Austin Toros for continuous rehab.
Now, according to Butler, he is ready to get back on the court and is brimming with confidence:
"Anybody that has gone through an injury like this will tell you that confidence is the main thing," Butler said. "You can work out and get all the strength built back up, but if you don't have confidence, the rest of it really doesn't matter."
"Honestly, I'm fine now. I'm good to go," Butler added. "I'm working out every day and shooting. I'm just playing as much as I can to get back into shape. I'm lifting a lot to keep the strength up in my leg."
Indeed confidence and hard work is key for Butler's road back to getting on the court, and it's that hard work which is making forget about his injury and and becoming mentally focused on what he is doing on the court:
"I'm starting to catch myself beginning to do the things I used to do. Like, if we're playing five-on-five, I'm not even thinking about my knee anymore. I just go out and play. That's cool, because I was so worried about my knee for the longest time. Now I don't even worry about it that much."
"I'll know I'll be as nervous as hell before my first game back. That may be the most nervous I'll ever be before a basketball game."
Coming back from the terrible injury he suffered is not an easy road. It has been countless hours in the gym, undergoing surgery and having the mental and physical strength to see it through.
"I realize I'm a little more tougher than I thought I was," Butler said. "I've learned a lot about myself in general. I've also learned I have a great support staff around me. WVU and the fans have always supported me. I have my family and friends who have stuck with me through this. They kept me grounded and kept me relaxed, which helped a lot."
Here's hoping there is no NBA lockout next season and Butler will finally get a chance to see all his hard work pay off as he steps onto the court for the Spurs.
San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer was in the running for the head coaching job with the Golden State Warriors. How strong? Warriors owner Joe Lacob flew out to San Antonio to meet him personally about the job.
In the end, Mark Jackson got the nod and Budenholzer remains on the Spurs' bench.
So now that Golden State has their new coach, what did Lacob have to say about his meetings with Budenholzer?
It was a long, long conversation, because he was late in the process. I think he is technically a very good coach. Excellent.
I didn’t think he was the right fit for our organization at this time. I think he fits very well in the San Antonio organization. He’s been there for 15 years. I think he’s a very, very good coach. He was strongly in consideration, but he’s not the guy we chose.
As much as Spurs fans might be relieved to know Budenholzer is still with San Antonio, he is still head coaching material for any NBA team and does deserves a shot.
Oh and your loss Warriors!
San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan is viewed as a calm, cerebral player on the court. Rarely engaging in smack-talk, always trying to out-smart his opponent and letting his game do all the talking.
But just how cerebral is Duncan? What goes on in that brain of his? Well according to former Spur Bruce Bowen, Duncan views things in everyday life a bit differently and was a bit strange due to Duncan's psychology degree from Wake Forest. For example, the number "7."
And with that, take it away Bowen:
"Tim's a psychological guy," Bowen said. "They don't see things the same way."
Bowen pointed to a sign with the number 7 on it.
"He might not say that's a 7," Bowen said. "He might say that's an upside-down L."
You know what, this is just fine.
If Duncan wants to see 7's as upside down L's so be it. Heck for that matter he can view the number "8" as a vertical infinity sign. I don't care. As long as it brings in more winning seasons, and another title for the Spurs, then he can be as quirky as he wants to be.