The San Antonio Spurs' search for a solid shooter continues with the addition of Kirk Penney to the training camp roster. At 6'5" and 220 pounds, the 29 year old brings some size to the wing position. A journeyman, Penney has played in six leagues since graduating from Wisconsin in 2003, including two stints in the NBA - a season with the Miami Heat and another with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Born in New Zealand, Penney, like Tiago Splitter, is fresh off of the FIBA World Championships where he played for his home country. In six games at the World Championships, Penney managed an impressive 24.7 points per game shooting over 45% from the field including 37% from the three-point line. In terms of efficiency with the basketball, he did commit an average of three turnovers per game and only two assists per contest.
Penney's most recent entry on his resume had him playing shooting guard for the New Zealand Breakers in the National Basketball League. In 2009, he was selected MVP after leading the league in scoring. He has seen a lot of success in New Zealand and all eyes are on him in that country as he tries to succeed in the NBA. Penney has been named All-NBL First Team in each of his three seasons there.
Penney is fighting for one of basically three remaining roster spots. The competition is stiff - the Spurs will more than likely cut five of the eight players competing for these final spots. He is a solid offensive player, but that alone will not get him onto the final roster. The Spurs are looking for someone who can defend as well, which could be a challenge for this guard who has not played against NBA competition since 2005. For his part, Penney is confident:
“You’ve got a lot of talented players here and to be able to measure myself against these guys is exactly where I want to be. I know on this team (among the non-guaranteed players) there isn’t a player like me, who moves well of the ball.
“I know I’m very much at the level. It’s just bringing it every day and showing that.”
Penney is likely to see his first action this week as the Spurs open their preseason schedule against the Houston Rockets on Thursday. No doubt his fans in New Zealand will be watching.
However, if I can make one suggestion should Penney make the squad -- is there any chance he can teach the Spurs the New Zealand Haka war dance? How great would it be to see him lead Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, coach Popovich and the rest of the team in performing the dance before tip-off?
Check out Penney. He is number six.