News out of Denver lately is that the Nuggets are shopping guard J.R. Smith, the player the Spurs came very close to getting in a deadline deal with the Hornets several years ago.
The Spurs and Hornets were not able to get the paperwork into the league office, and since then, many Spurs fans have watched Smith wondering how successful he could have been for the Spurs.
Last year for the Nuggets, Smith averaged 15.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game in just over 27 minutes per game.
Those numbers have to be intriguing for Spurs fans, who saw Richard Jefferson put up lesser numbers with more playing time.
Smith could give the Spurs another athletic wingman, who can shoot the three or slash and finish at the rim. He's also relatively young, with six years of NBA experience and being drafted out of high school.
Assuming the Spurs wouldn't have to give up any major pieces to get Smith, especially since the Nuggets seem eager to be rid of him, would he really fit in with the Spurs?
The Spurs are stockpiled with guards. Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, George Hill and James Anderson all figure to be a part of the regular rotation. Gary Neal also has a contract in hand and Garrett Temple could still make the roster, so clearly there isn't space there.
One weakness the Spurs have yet to really address is backup small forward, but is Smith, 6-6, big enough defend the taller small forwards in the NBA?
Aside from all that, Smith really isn't a Spurs-type player. The Spurs are known around the league for putting together a team of high-character players without rap sheets, and Smith's rap sheet is about as thick as Ginobili's accent.
In 2006, Smith was involved in the Nuggets-Knicks brawl.
In 2007, he was involved in an incident at a Denver night club and was suspended for three games.
Last year, he served 24 days in a New Jersey correctional facility after pleading guilty to reckless driving that ended in a fatal crash that killed friend Andre Bell. He also failed to show up to a court appearance, resulting in a fine.
Smith has had his share of time in George Karl's doghouse, and even called out his teammates on twitter after a loss against the Jazz.
On August 13, he was involved in a physical altercation at the Nuggets practice facility during a pickup game. The investigation was recently re-opened.
Now if any coach could tame a player like Smith, it would be Popovich. His expiring contract may also be enticing enough for the Spurs front office to take a chance on him if a trade scenario was agreed to.
So what do you think, Spurs fans? Is J.R. Smith worth the risk?
Back in action only one day after a tough loss to Slovenia, Tiago Splitter and Brazil easily defeated Croatia 92-74. Splitter, playing only sixteen minutes in the game, managed only six points on one-of-four from the field and four-of-four from the free throw line. In addition to the six points Tiago chipped in four rebounds and four assists in the runaway victory for Team Brazil.
Splitter's time was limited after picking up his second foul early in the second quarter of the game. He came out firing in the third, grabbing a couple of offensive rebounds and knocking down a bucket from inside the paint before picking up yet another foul and going to the bench where he sat for the rest of the game. Brazil's coaching staff used the blowout as an opportunity to rest many of their starters. This was their third game in four days.
Unfortunately, turnovers and foul trouble seem to be a running theme in Splitter's World Championship outings. Hopefully this is a trend that can be bucked upon his arrival in training camp next month.
Brazil has some time to rest and recoup. They are not back in action again until next Tuesday where they will match up against Argentina where Luis Scola is having a fantastic performance in the World Championship. Check in then for another Splitter update.
While Lithuania dominated Lebanon 84-66 to stay undefeated atop Group D, Spurs' draftee Robertas Javtokas did not play.
Nando De Colo, however, did play in a losing effort against New Zealand, which was their second straight loss in Group D.
For De Colo, it was a tale of two halves, although really, it was all about the first quarter before everything dropped off and he lulled back into inconsistency.
To start the game, De Colo looked more comfortable and poised leading France at the point. He came out of the gates on fire, sending his first two three-point attempts swishing through the net.
Defensively, he got caught on a few screens and was mismatched in the post, but he impressed me in denying position and not allowing the postup. On another possession, he was pinned against a New Zealand player that towered over him, but realized the ball would get passed in, so he jumped into the lane and picked it off.
De Colo ended the first quarter with eight points, but only scored two more points the rest of the game.
His shot just didn't fall until he hit a mid-range jumper midway through the third quarter. With no luck on the offensive end, De Colo decided to sag off his assignment to help defend in the paint to stop penetration and help on the boards. But that's when his foul trouble started. At the end of the third quarter, he had three fouls and then picked up the fourth and fifth in the fourth, which limited his playing time.
De Colo ended the game with 10 points on three-of-eight shooting from the field, four rebounds and two steals.
France will be looking to stop their two-game skid against Turkey on Sunday.
Yesterday at The Times Center in New York City, I had the opportunity to attend the press conference announcing the new Capital One Cup.
The Capital One Cup is a new premier award for excellence in on-field performance in Division I college sports. It awards one men’s and one women’s NCAA® Division I athletics program for their cumulative on-field performance across multiple sports during the fall, winter and spring athletics seasons.
Once the seasons are done, $200, 000 will be awarded to the winning program (men's and women's sports) for graduate level scholarships. The winners will be announced during the annual ESPY awards.
After the press conference I had a chance to speak with ESPN's Rece Davis who hosts College Gameday and is an Advisory Board member for the Capital One Cup. We spoke on the new Capital One Cup and San Antonio Spurs' rookie James Anderson.
As Rece and I meet, he gives me a hearty handshake.
Jeff: The Capital One Cup has to give a new competitive wrinkle to collegiate sports.
Rece: I don't think there is any question about it. It gives an opportunity for sports that don't get a lot of recognition to have some of the light shining on them for a change and it still maintains the fan interest of the sports who follow them closely whether its men's basketball or football or women's basketball. There are so many things out there that get a lot of attention in college sports that aren't great. But that's the minutia. The percentage of things that go wrong in college sports is very small. The Capital One Cup is an opportunity to shine a light on things that are right. The accomplishments on the field, opportunities from an educational stand point for the two programs that win and really it's an opportunity to generate some enthusiasm, some bragging rights, some back-and-forth with the fans by keeping up with the standings over the course of the year.
How user friendly is the Capital One Cup point system going to be for the fans?
They will just be able to log on to the website www.capitalonecup.com and see the standings. It's based on how teams finish with the premium placed on winning championships. It's based on the final results of the season, the final poll, whatever it may be so there won't be any guess work, there won't be any ambiguity to it. You have a certain amount of points based on how you finish. Depending on what tier the sport is in, I know that sounds a little confusing, but basically think of it this way: the sports that get the most attention, get the most points. They get a bonus bump for finishing well in those sports. That's basically the easiest way and really the only way to think of it. But as far as logging on and keeping up, they'll (the fans) log on the website, there will be a point total there. They'll see and they'll know that with the upcoming sport they will have to do well if they want to make up ground with a school that is in front of them.
I can hear it now, "How many Cup points do you have?"
Exactly! And I can guarantee you that athletic directors will care about that and in turn the donors will care about that and in turn the fans will care about that and they'll do that! Like Robin Ventura mentioned today, that if you have a tennis program and it doesn't do well in the Capital One Cup and you think "If we had done better in tennis, we would have won this thing," you're going to get that type of positive energy and positive input to encourage schools to try to be the best in as many sports as they possibly can be.
It's as if this is going to unify all the teams at a particular college.
Exactly. It's team work. It's one of the tenets of Capital One. It's one of the things you learn by playing sports and its something you learn for all aspects of your life so it's a really good marriage.
Let's talk about college basketball and the most recent NBA draft. James Anderson from Oklahoma State was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs and many felt he was a steal. Why is that?
Hubert Davis, my partner on College Gameday, thought he was the best and most pro-ready shooting guard in the game last year. He's a mid-size, athletic guy, very strong and he has the physical ability to breakdown defenses at the pro level. He is also an explosive scorer. He has all of the tools you want but because Oklahoma State was good not great, maybe some of the general public didn't necessarily look at him as being one of the big guys. Also he wasn't just one year removed from high school and what happens, I think now with the NBA, sometimes if a guy is around too long, people start trying to pick him apart or they start looking for what's wrong instead of what's right. There's a lot right with James Anderson. He's going to be an excellent player.
Where you suprised he didn't get drafted higher?
A little bit. But a lot of that ends of being contract, need, what are we doing with our (cap) space, injuries, whatever it might be each team has it's own unique set of circumstances that often orchestrates who they draft and who they place value on. I'm not ever too often surprised once you get past the top 10 or 11 picks and what a team might do because there's usually some type of ulterior motive at work.
What makes Anderson a Spurs type player?
Because they have a lot of blue-collar role player guys who are more talented than you think. Guys who aren't afraid to defend, guys who don't worry about number of shots, guys who don't worry about the number of plays run for them, guys who, within reason, are not too worried about about minutes. Anderson, while being the star of his team (Oklahoma State) I never viewed him as being a selfish player at all. He's a guy who understands "the team," he understands fitting into a role, he understands contributing in a variety of areas other than just scoring. Because of that, that's why he is going to fit in with the Spurs because the Spurs have a history of winning championships with guys like him.
Back in action for Team Brazil today, future Spur Tiago Splitter contributed 19 points to become Brazil's second leading scorer in a tough 80-77 loss to Slovenia. After falling behind 16 points to start the fourth quarter, Brazil battled back, outscoring Slovenia 26 to 13 in the fourth only to fall just short in the end.
Although most do not expect Tiago to make an enormous scoring impact for the Spurs, he managed to shoot over 60% from the field in the losing effort. On the downside, he shot a woeful 3 of 8 from the free throw line, a statistic that should make him fit right in with his future teammates. Don't get mad, you know its true.
Splitter played well down the stretch, creating a Slovenia turnover with only a minute to play. He was also on the free throw line with 45 seconds left where he made 1 of 2, leaving Brazil with a 5 point deficit as time ticked down. Brazil could not close the gap however and after hitting three free throws with one second on the clock, went down to Slovenia by three.
Outside of his offensive performance, Splitter was not a major factor, statistically speaking. He finished with only four rebounds and a single assist. After getting himself into foul trouble against Team USA, Splitter kept it clean against a much less physical Slovenia team. One additional bright spot: only one turnover. Tiago did not take care of the ball very well in his team's loss to the United States, showing he has the ability to adjust his game and fix his mistakes.
It is also good to see Splitter play a different role when his team needed him to. Against the U.S., Barbosa was the team's leading scorer. Against Slovenia, when Barbosa was unable to find his offense (shooting 6 of 15 from the field) Splitter was able to step into the role seamlessly and help keep his team within striking distance down the stretch. All in all, it was another solid performance; enough to get Spurs fans excited for his impending arrival.
Nando de Colo and Robertas Javtokas' teams were pitted against each other today in a battle of two unbeaten Group D teams.
de Colo clearly had the better game of the two as he contributed to a balanced scoring attack for Les Blues. He finished the game with nine points, three rebounds and two assists in 26 minutes. Though he had some trouble finding his shot in his last game, he had no problems today, connecting on four of five shots from the field and was one for two on three-point attempts in 26 minutes.
While de Colo had a better showing compared to game three, he continues to look more like a shooting guard and less like a pure point guard. His shot is the best part of his game, but he still has plenty of room to improve, especially when it comes to consistency.
While De Colo had the better game, Javtokas' Lithuania team won the game, handing France its first defeat and also clinching the lead in Group D.
While I originally expected Javtokas to play in a bigger role against France, he played limited minutes and wasn't much of a factor.
In 11 minutes, Javtokas had two points and five rebounds. Lithuania will take on Lebanon tomorrow. France will play New Zealand.
Look for a report by Jason Rogers on Tiago Splitter's performance against Slovenia coming soon.
For those not watching the FIBA World Championships, Jeff and I gave an update on Tiago Splitter, Nando De Colo and Robertas Javtokas.
So far, Javtokas has not played much, due to a foot injury, but his minutes and rebounds increased in Lithuania's game against Spain. De Colo has been inconsistent and has one standout game so far, while Splitter has been pretty consistent through all three games. Jeff and I didn't see a lot we didn't like in his game against the United States.
After a break, we talked about some recent Spurs news including Malik Hairston being waived by his Italian team. We also mentioned that Thomas Gardner and Jawad Williams worked out for the Spurs and in some late news, found out Darius Miles will be working out for the Spurs.
To end the show, Jeff interviewed our friend John Karalis of Red's Army about being torched by Richard Jefferson. Video game Richard Jefferson that is.
Intro Music: Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart by Stone Temple Pilots.
During the offseason I've given much attention on the San Antonio Spurs' offseason moves. From grading the moves to having a few suggestions on which players the team should consider adding to the roster as the new season approaches.
In July, my friend and colleague, Michael De Leon, wrote a great article about the Spurs' projected starting lineup. He mentioned the Spurs starting five for next season could be Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter, Richard Jefferson, Tony Parker and George Hill. Assuming he was right, another interesting topic comes to mind -- the Spurs' bench.
Let's break it down.
Antonio McDyess and DeJuan Blair
Last season McDyess was the team's starting center and Blair was the backup power forward, though he did start 21 regular season games at center last year.
This upcoming season, with the addition of Splitter, the Spurs' frontline got deeper. If Splitter becomes the team's starting center, McDyess and Blair will split time as the team's backup center with Blair probably playing some time at power forward as well.
If last year's first round playoffs performance against the Dallas Mavericks was any indication, then McDyess still has a lot of game left in him. With fewer minutes, he could be more effective for the Spurs in the playoffs. Rest is good for his veteran legs but he certainly knows how to play. He will provide an instant boost from the Spurs' bench especially on the defensive end of the floor.
As for Blair, his per minute numbers, especially rebounding, last year were amazing. Giving him more minutes at the four and five spots will help him develop his game more, gain more experience and improve. He will continue to provide the hustle and grit that the team needed.
Last season Bonner was a backup at the power forward and center position but when he got hurt, the Spurs' big man rotation became thinner. This upcoming season with McDyess sliding as the team's backup center, expect Bonner and Blair to share more minutes at the power forward position.
Assessment:Did you know last year Bonner started at center eight times? This upcoming season that isn't going to happen. Less pressure on Bonner could mean more production and hopefully consistent shooting from him.
James Anderson and Alonzo Gee
Last season Keith Bogans was the primary backup at the small forward spot, sharing some time with Michael Finley (before he went to the Boston Celtics) and Malik Hairston.
This upcoming season, assuming Gee makes the team, he could be Jefferson's primary backup because he is a natural player at the three spot. Rookie Anderson could play some small forward because he has good size and is a good shooter. Something the Spurs need from a wingman. Though recently the Spurs have been working out Jawad Williams and Darius Miles for the small forward position.
With Gee and Anderson, the Spurs' rotation at the small forward spot became younger and more athletic. Anderson was a proven scorer in college while Gee averaged 7.4 points on 77.8% three-point shooting in 11 games for the Washington Wizards last season. If that trend continues, the Spurs' small forward rotation could be deeper than most people think.
Manu Ginobili and Gary NealIf there is any player who is great at coming from the bench it's Ginobili. He shared some time as the team's backup shooting guard with Roger Mason Jr. last year. This upcoming season Neal will provide more depth at the two spot which already includes Ginobili and George Hill.
Assessment:Highly doubtful, but if Hill becomes a full time starter, Ginobili will continue to provide the needed offensive spark from the bench. Late in the season last year, Ginobili proved he is still one of the game's best finishers. Neal will get some time as a backup off-guard mainly because of his shooting accuracy. Also do not be surprised to see Anderson split time between shooting guard and small forward which will just bolster the team's offensive attack.
Temple was a late season addition when Hill went down with an injury and made an immediate impact.
With Temple, the team is deep at the backup point guard. He will get some help from Ginobili who is very capable at handling the basketball and also Neal who had some experience at manning the point during his time in Italy could be brought on to handle the ball should the need arises.
Temple has proven he can run the point. Temple averaged 5 points and 1.1 rebounds in 27 games for the Spurs last year. His size (6'6") will give opposing point guards problems when orchestrating their plays.
The Spurs added athleticism and younger legs to their rotation. With Mason, Bogans, Ian Mahimni and Hairston gone, the Spurs did a tremendous job replacing those guys with Neal, Anderson and Splitter. On paper, the bench looks better than a year ago.
What are your thoughts? Did the Spurs' bench get better? Leave us a comment.
San Antonio Spurs' rookie James Anderson continues to nurse a hamstring injury which has him continuing rehab before the joins his new teammates:
"I think I'm getting back to 100 percent," Anderson said Tuesday. "I'm about 95 percent right now. Just working my way back up."
"I think I'll be on the court soon," Anderson said. (source Express News)
The injury has forced Anderson to sit out the Las Vegas Summer League but it seems the Spurs and Anderson rather be safe and not risk further injury.