After their sojourn abroad to Berlin and Istanbul, the Spurs returned Saturday afternoon weary but grateful for the experience to visit two famous cities and none the worse for wear (with one rather notable exception, as we'll get to). The players were given Sunday to sleep off the travel but returned to practice Monday morning at their facility. Surprisingly, there was a lot of energy in the drills that we were privy too, and the players were quick, energetic and pretty sharp overall in the various shooting drills the coaches put them through in groups of two or three.
Gregg Popovich said he was pleased with Boris Diaw's conditioning despite him being away from the team's first week of camp and rendezvousing in Berlin. Pop also was pleased with Tony Parker's freshness after the wee Frenchman took the summer off.
But once the pleasantries were over with, Popovich announced a roster move, and this is where those of you who had already ordered a John Holland jersey may want to sit down. Holland, whose agent no doubt made him aware of the astronomical odds he was facing of making the Spurs roster (he didn't play at all in either of the first two preseason games), signed with
the club the Spurs just played; Fenerbache Ulker, Beşiktaş, so he's staying in Turkey.
"He's all set," Popovich said of Holland, "And we don't have any immediate plans to cut anybody else, we're just going to play through the preseason."
The Spurs roster stands at 18, with the 14 returning guys on guaranteed contracts, plus first-round pick Kyle Anderson, and then three camp long shots in point guard Bryce Cotton plus forwards Jamychal Green and Josh Davis.
The biggest news came when Pop revealed that Kawhi Leonard, who missed the second game with an eye infection, may miss some time. Leonard was the only Spur, besides injured Tiago Splitter (calf) and Patty Mills (rotator cuff) who weren't at practice. Danny Green, who also missed the Fenerbache game with a thigh injury, was shooting around with everyone else.
"It's the same or worse," Pop said of Leonard's condition. "He's seeing (a doctor) today and it may be viral so we're just keeping him away from the team and they're gonna look at it, but, he's certainly not going to travel with us."
Lastly, Pop fielded a question from a seasoned reporter about Tim Duncan's unusually high amount of playing time in the first two preseason games and whether we should infer from that that The Golden God will play less or not at all in some other exhibition games in the near future.
"He won't play much in Phoenix," Pop started, waiting his usual two beats, before explaining, "because it'll be hard to do that from San Antonio."
Then he added that Manu Ginobli and the other three Spurs who are currently sidelined will not be flying for Thursday's preseason game against the Suns.
Speaking of Ginobili, he shared his thoughts on where the Spurs are as a team at the moment, what Kevin Durant's injury means for the Thunder and some advice for Danny Green and really any of us who use Twitter or other forms of social media.
On the team's progress thus far: "We've got a long way to go. We've just started to get together. And then we missed too many players in a couple of the games. Tiago is always very important in what we do. We've gotta get used to not playing with Patty. In the second game, it could've been better, just to shake off the loss and the bad first game, but Danny and Kawhi couldn't play. It helped us to play against players that you don't know, or you don't play against all the time, but we are far behind and need to keep working."
On whether it was constructive for the team to lose to Alba Berlin, a reminder that even the NBA Champions can lose to anyone: "We know that. We know that, and we've probably been through every situation, and we know that if we don't bring our ‘A' game and we're not focused, we can lose to anybody. So no, it's not something that we needed to see to realize but... what we realized is, it's not automatic to pick up where you left or close. You really have to work hard, be humble, shake off the championship and start from scratch, basically. We've got to do that in these last, what, 16 days? Of course they're going to be very important."
On whether going abroad put the team behind schedule in their preparations: "I don't know if we're that behind. Of course, you don't get as much work as you do here. You've got the jet lag, you don't practice in your arena, you don't have six rims as in here to shoot, so you don't get your rhythm or your routine going, so everything is a little more complicated. But at the same time you gain in other aspects, we spend more time together, we talk about different things, and we get that team oriented mentality going. The good thing is we've got more than two weeks before the season opener and we know each other very well, so it's just a matter of remembering what we're about, to work hard, and to get ready."
On Durant's injury: "Every team goes through one of those, or two, during the season. It hasn't happened with Durant, probably ever, but teams have to be ready. It happened to Tony, me, (Tim Duncan) in the past, Kawhi, Danny, mainly... every other team. It happened to Kobe (Bryant) in the last season-and-a-half. That's sometimes of course a negative for the team because you start a little behind but it gets other players confident and going because they feel important about themselves and I think it makes the team grow. Of course you'd prefer to play with your whole team the whole season, but it's a tough one, but the good thing is that it's early and they'll have time to figure it out. They're good enough."
On Green's Twitter gaffe: "It's a very sensitive topic, because it's dangerous. You've got a phone and you go through different moods and some different things happen to you and usually I probably tweet one out of every ten (things he thinks about tweeting). Because if I'm in doubt that it's not going to be funny or it's not cool then boom, I'm out. Sometimes you're tempted and you're bored in your room and you want to do something and things happen. So, you have to be very sensitive, very cautious, because a lot of people follow us and if a lot of people don't follow us, with retweets and stuff... things happen. You have to be very cautious and when you are sort of a public figure, you can get in trouble easy. So before writing anything, it's a smart thing to do to show it to somebody else."
Ginobili said that he can't recall ever getting into trouble for anything social media related, and that he takes precautions to make sure it'll stay that way, explaining, "As I said before, I try to be very cautious with that and if there's not a teammate, my wife, a friend (to show it to), sometimes I send it by message, just in case. Sometimes you think it's going to be funny or okay, and it's not. So I let it go."
It will not help the Spurs break out of their reputation for being a bunch of squares that Ginobili's idea of a hotel room temptation is whether to send a PG-13 rated Tweet.