Check out video of San Antonio Spurs forward, DeJuan Blair, throwing the first pitch for the MLB's Pittsburgh Pirates.
Yes I know. This is a San Antonio Spurs blog so what am I doing interviewing David Lee of the New York Knicks? Well I'm glad you asked.
The great thing about living in New York City are the events throughout the summer months. Fortunately, the kind folks at the Taylor PR firm invited Project Spurs to the Tanqueray 200th anniversary party where I had the opportunity to interview Lee who was there to take part in the event for Tanqueray.
This was an opportunity which I could not pass up. Especially with Lee's name being mentioned in recent trade rumors with the Spurs.
In the interview we talk about being a free-agent, the Knicks, his first All-Star appearance, LeBron James, playing against the Spurs' Tim Duncan, the fans in San Antonio, eating Philly cheesesteaks with former Spur Malik Rose, and much more!
Right before I sat down, I mention the party...
JEFF: When they think Tanqueray, they think David Lee right?
DAVID: I don't know about that but like I said I never get out during the season, so it's nice to get out do some fun events (Lee looks at the Tanqueray poster behind us) and things in New York in the summer time when it's warm.
First I want to congratulate you on making your first All-Star appearance. How was that?
It was wonderful! Great experience. To have it be in an area like the Dallas Cowboys brand new stadium on a really grand scale like that with 118, 000 people that even made it that much more special. It was something I will never forget.
How did you find out?
I was actually taking a nap! I was relaxing, my flights all got cancelled out of New York because there was that snow storm all across the country. So I was just staying in New York for about three or four days then I was going to join the team. Got a call while I was taking a nap. Hit ignore about three or four times because I was taking a nap and finally answered the phone and it was our General Manager. Told me I made it. So I was really, really excited. It was a wonderful experience.
Well congratulations and hopefully many more to come.
You know July is coming up very soon and you will be a free-agent. Your thoughts. Are you frustrated knowing you are in limbo?
Not really. I went through this all last summer with a much more complicated situation with restricted free-agency. Now it's a little more wide-open. But one thing that's confusing is there so many free-agents right now. So many teams with space [salary cap space] and so many teams that want to do sign-and-trades that are looking to improve their team this summer. So with guys like LeBron James it's going to be a little bit of a waiting game for me. But it's going to be exciting either way. I'm really excited to have had a decent season and have some options this summer.
Speaking of LeBron James, does it make it frustrating since they [Knicks] have been "full disclosure" and said he is their prime target. Yet you averaged 20.2 points, double-digit rebounds, an All-Star appearance...figure they should give you a little "love."
You know it's about them improving their team and they need to go about that in a way they see best fit and at this point a guy like LeBron is a top one or two players in the league depending on your opinion between him and Kobe [Bryant]. That's a guy that's going to improve your team right off the bat. I think that's something they need to go after. Something they promised the fans, promised the media, that they're going to pursue and they need to let it run its course.
Recently, you had an interview where you said you feel like you can be, if you are not already, an elite player. You have the credentials to prove it. All-Star appearance, the numbers. Tell us more about your drive and what you can bring to the Knicks should they re-sign you or any other team you may end up with.
I think I've proven I'm a guy that's going to go out there and give total effort every single time I step on the floor. I been constantly improving my game. That's the biggest thing is that I think in this league you're either getting better or you're getting worse. Everybody is getting a year older every year but I try to improve at least one skill every single season. This past year was improving my mid-range jump shot and it's something I just want to get better and better each year. I know I am going to continue to do that and I think I'm going to be in the All-Star game year-in and year-out.
That's a goal and now the biggest thing is to be in a position where I'm going to be on a team that wins and a team that's a contender each and every year. I think that can be New York. I don't think being a "Plan B" is necessarily a negative when you are talking a person like LeBron James. I think at this point everybody in free-agency is a "Plan B" unless your name is LeBron. I'm really looking forward to this whole process. It should be fun!
Your name has been mentioned in trade rumors involving the San Antonio Spurs and in particular Tony Parker. Should that happen, how would it be like to play for a coach like Gregg Popovich and a player like Tim Duncan?
I have a lot of respect for Popovich and the things that he has done especially in a smaller market where he hasn't necessarily had the pay-roll of other teams.
Tim Duncan. Speaks for itself. I think he's one of the top three players to ever play the position if not the best! I also know him a little bit off the floor. I got a chance to play with Malik Rose so I got to know some of the guys on the Spurs team. It's not always said about this with every NBA guy but I think who he [Duncan] is as a person is almost as impressive as who he is as a player. If not more impressive. He's a great guy and a guy that brings the effort night-in and night-out. So I have a lot of respect for his game.
Did Malik tell you about his Philly cheesesteaks?
(laughs) Every time we went to Philadelphia we got them on the plane as we were leaving. I'm a big fan. I gained a couple of pounds because of those.
Tell me how is it playing against Tim Duncan?
He's tough. He's great at not only scoring but he's great at drawing fouls. A tremendous defender and he is a guy that has so much knowledge of the game that it makes it difficult to guard him because he is always one step ahead of you mentally. He's a very good player.
As an opposing player, when you head out to San Antonio and go into the AT&T Center, tell me about the atmosphere.
Well they have fans that have been spoiled every time because of the amount of winning. They pack the place in night-in and night-out. There's a tremendous amount of enthusiasm also because they're [Spurs] really the only game in town there. I think it even heightens it more. I know the players that play down there love the crowd. I never heard anything negative about playing in San Antonio.
Which Spur do you like to watch?
Tim Duncan, obviously and Parker are the two guys everyone talks about. The guy I think had a tremendous second-half this season this year was [Manu] Ginobili. I think he had a slower first-half of the season and I think played about as good of basketball as anybody in the league in the second-half from the All-Star break on. He's the guy that had some injury troubles but when you look at his game, he finds a way to get it done game-in and game-out.
Let's talk more about the New York Knicks. I know you want to secure your future and you're looking for a long-term deal. Are you looking for a long-term deal regardless of the team or is your main goal looking for a winning club even if it is a short-term deal?
Well I mean it's going to be a lot of factors combined. I think I had a good enough year that I'm going to give myself some options and it's going to be weighed to things that are important. It's going to be weighing wanting to win, wanting to be in a city that I enjoy, wanting to be happy for me and my girlfriend and my family when they come to watch and also the money does matter. This is a business. So weighing all those things together is going to be important to find a perfect situation.
I want to talk about the Spurs' DeJuan Blair. You had to go against him. Is he a beast?
(smiling) He is! I talked to Chip Engelland [Spurs' assistant coach] and some of the other assistants about him. I heard he is an unbelievable kid. He has a great work ethic. He's a guy that . . . I'm not sure how much was expected out of him coming in and what he showed in pre-season, what he showed throughout the season, I mean they [Spurs] have to be thrilled with his performance and moving forward, he's one of the best young big-men in the league. He deserves a lot of credit.
Do you feel the Knicks are going in the right direction?
I think they are. I think they had a definite plan and they've stuck to it. That's opening up cap-space and making room for the future. Now it's a matter of what they can do this summer. If they are able to land a couple of these free-agents, no matter who they are, then they have a chance to be very good overnight.
The music getting really loud at this party isn't it?
(laughing) Yes it is! It is!
Now when am I going to get a picture with you and me in front of the Tanqueray poster?
Perfect! We can get it done right now!
One thing is clear, the Spurs needed another quality big-man to play along side Tim Duncan. When this topic is mentioned, one name always comes to mind --- Tiago Splitter. It is still uncertain whether Splitter will decide to join the Spurs in the coming season but if he does decide not to join the Spurs this could mean the team will either draft a center or trade for one and when it comes to trades, the name that has surfaced many times this off-season has been Tony Parker.
There have been a lot of buzz surrounding Parker's future with the Spurs. According to several reports, the Spurs' floor general could end up playing for another team next season. Most recently, news surfaced that Parker might be traded to the New York Knicks or the Indiana Pacers. Regardless, the Spurs have gone on the record to keep Parker in San Antonio and Parker has expressed his desire to remain in San Antonio.
There are many factors why Parker is a target of trade rumors. His contract is expiring next season, he is a proven winner, he is still young and much more which makes him the most tradeable asset for the Spurs at this time. Factor in the emergence of guard George Hill and it makes for some to believe that Parker might be expandable.
Speaking of Hill, the Spurs made their strong run towards the end of the regular season with Parker out with an injury and Hill as their starting point guard. This continued in the playoffs when coach Gregg Popovich decided to stick with Hill as the starter against the Dallas Mavericks essentially making Parker as their number one option off the bench.
Hill averaged 12.4 points and 2.9 assists on 47.8% field goal shooting in 78 regular season games. As a starter, he was even better as his numbers went up to 15.3 points and 3.6 assist on 48.6% shooting from the field in 43 starts. He solidified his mark in the series against the Mavericks as he averaged 14.3 points and 3.8 rebounds on 50% shooting as the Spurs beat Dallas in six games.
Nevertheless the questions remains: are the Spurs better off trading Parker? He is still one of the elite point-guards in NBA and should the Spurs decide to trade him, will Hill be ready to take the reigns at the starting point-guard? Right now the answer would have to be "no."
Trading away a player who has been with the team since he was 19 years old, has led the team to its fourth NBA title in 2007, is familiar with the players and the Spurs' system, and one who commands respect from opposing defenders is something this team cannot part with.
On the other hand, Hill is still a work in progress. Sure he had great moments in the regular-season and in the playoffs but his inexperience showed against the Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash in the 2010 Western Conference semi-finals. Hill still needs to improve on defending quicker guards, developing a stronger mid-range shot, and playing under pressure. He still has to pay his dues and lets face it, he does not compare to Parker but he does have tremendous upside.
This does not mean the team is not willing to listen to offers for Parker. It would have to take a lot to "wow" the Spurs front-office to pull the trigger on a trade. If Splitter decides not to come to the Spurs next season, and another team wants to throw in a solid big-man to compliment Duncan, I am sure their ears are open to trading Parker. Bottom line, Parker should remain a Spur and Hill is not ready . . . yet.
What do you guys think? If a trade is to happen, which player or players should the Spurs target in exchange for Parker or do you believe that Hill is ready as the team's full-time floor general. Send us your thoughts.
According to the president of Saski Baskonia, Josean Querejeta, he is aware that Tiago Splitter wants to play in the NBA but does not know if Splitter has yet made a definitive decision:
El presidente baskonista es "consciente" de los deseos del jugador por emprender la aventura americana, aunque "todavía no hay confirmación" de ese paso.
This is a good sign for the San Antonio Spurs who own his rights after drafting him in the 2007 NBA Draft. Splitter would address the team's need for a big man to play along side Tim Duncan.
As they say Spurs fans, the plot thickens!
San Antonio Spurs' free-agent, Ian Mahinmi, is close to signing a new contract according to the French National team's coach, Vincent Collet, via Le Figaro.com.
Laissé libre par San Antonio, Ian Mahinmi attend de trouver un nouvel employeur. Une signature pourrait intervenir d'après les informations de Vincent Collet.
Rough English translation:
Vacated by San Antonio, Ian Mahinmi waiting to find a new employer. A signature could come "soon" according to information from Vincent Collet.
Mahinmi will be part of the selection camp to play for French National team in Turkey at this summer's FIBA World Championships.
Though it was not stated which team Mahinmi will be signing with, chances are it will be the Spurs.
Recently, San Antonio Spurs legend and NBA Hall of Famer, David Robinson, weighed in on what the Spurs need to address in the off-season, his thoughts on Tiago Splitter, and on his "return" to the Spurs.no comments
Tiago Splitter and his team, Caja Laboral, beat Barcelona today to capture the Spanish League title. With the victory Splitter was named MVP of the Spanish League Finals.
Por su parte, el jugador del Caja Laboral Tiago Splitter fue designado como el más valorado de la final.
Let's not forget, Splitter also won the regular season MVP award this season as well. This was just the second time someone won both the regular season and Finals MVP trophy since Arvydas Sabonis accomplished it in 1995.
This could be Splitter's last game with Caja Laboral, as the San Antonio Spurs (who hold his rights after drafting him in the 2007 NBA Draft) and Spurs fans now await his decision on whether he will be playing with the Spurs next season or not.
However, does this championship and this Finals MVP trophy make it more tempting for him to stay where he is now and pass up on playing with the Spurs?
San Antonio Spurs' forward, DeJuan Blair proved to every NBA team that passed on drafting him during the 2009 NBA Draft that he does have what it takes to make it in the NBA despite the lack of ACLs.
But can Blair prove to the MLB he can "bring the heat" on the pitching mound?
This Wednesday, Blair will be throwing out the first pitch for the MLB's Pittsburgh Pirates:
Former University of Pittsburgh basketball player DeJuan Blair will throw out Wednesday's ceremonial first pitch at PNC Park.
Good luck Blair. Just make sure to take it easy. No need for any freak accidents on the pitching mound. Did I just jinx him?
The 2010 NBA Vegas Summer league Schedule was announced today and as usual, the San Antonio Spurs will be a participating team.
The Spurs will kick things off July 12, 2010 at 3:30 P.M. at Thomas & Mack as they will take on the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The rest of the Spurs' Vegas Summer League schedule is as follows:
- Wednesday, July 14, vs. Atlanta Hawks at 3:30 P.M. at Thomas & Mack
- Thursday, July 15, vs. the L.A. Lakers at 1 P.M. at Cox Pavilion
- Saturday, July 17, vs. the L.A. Clippers at 5 P.M. at Cox Pavilion
- Sunday, July 18, vs. the Memphis Grizzlies at 1:30 P.M. at Thomas & Mack
(all times local Las Vegas time)
For the complete schedule click here to visit Ridiculous Upside.
On this episode of the Spurscast, Mike and I discuss the constant trade rumors revolving around Tony Parker and the New York Knicks. We also talk a lot about the soap opera that is Tiago Splitter and all the latest concerning him and the San Antonio Spurs.
More college players working out for the Spurs, Spurs trying to move up in the 2010 NBA Draft, Mike's lack of Internet, and much more!
Oh and Mike also inadvertently does a Napoleon Dynamite impression. See if you can spot it on this episode of the Spurscast.
The Spurscast. The first and original Spurs podcast.
Music by Led Zeppelin "Kashmir"