The Spurs conducted their media day Monday morning, and like you would expect, there was a considerably larger turnout than past years because of the LaMarcus Aldridge signing. The thing you have to understand about media day is that in a lot of ways it's like the first day of school for the scribes and talking heads. You catch up with people you haven't seen all summer long, exchange catty gossip about so-and-so, make bawdy jokes when you're sure no one but your intended audience is listening and generally do a lot of standing and waiting around. The players get shepherded from one camera setup to another in their uniforms, posing this way and that, and being given fairly ridiculous lines to repeat for ads that most of them will never wind up appearing in.
This time it was for the National Basketball Players Association Awards, where each of your favorite Spurs parroting "Our voice, our choice," (or maybe it was the other way around?), while wearing t-shirts with a slogan that needed more workshoppin'.
I don't know what it means either.
But there was actual news to be broken and interviews to be conducted. First off, in a bit of a surprise both Tony Parker and Boris Diaw were present. I was expecting them to join the proceedings midway through the week since they were coming off the Eurobasket tournament, but it turns out they both arrived last night. Jetlag may be an issue for them for a day or two, but they didn't look the worse for wear.
Secondly, Boban Marjanovic, who I can confirm is not one normal-sized human standing on the shoulders of another, is completely recovered from the foot injury that kept him from competing for Serbia according to Gregg Popovich and he should be a full participant in camp from the outset.
Finally, there was a new and unexpected name on the training camp roster. Let's see if you can spot it.
Yup, it's Rasual Butler!
Apparently the Spurs just signed him for a tryout.
"He's a seasoned pro in the sense that he knows himself, he knows what role he could play, he's at the stage of his career where he just wants to be a part of something that's positive and good," Popovich said of the signing. "He obviously can shoot the basketball, if he couldn't shoot we wouldn't be talking to him. You gotta have a skill to play. So for all those reasons he's somebody who has a great shot to make our team."
Fun fact about Rasual Butler... he's old! Did you guys know he was old? I had no idea. He's always been this faceless random bench guy who I vaguely associate with being able to shoot threes, but Butler turned 36 in May. That's not "seasoned," as Pop put it, that's burnt. Honestly if you asked me 20 minutes ago how old I thought anonymous NBA player Rasual Butler was, I'd have guessed 31.
Anyway, Butler is coming off a solid season for the Wizards where he shot 38.7 percent from downtown over 75 games, and he hit at a 41.9 percent clip two years ago as David West's teammate with the Pacers.
If you're keeping count, that makes four guys competing for the 15th and final roster spot, depending on whether or not you feel that Jonathon Simmons is a lock to make the team already. Along with Butler there's Jimmer Fredette (who really should be more in a competition with Ray McCallum than the wings), former Spurs draft pick Deshaun Thomas and Reggie Williams, who spent a decent chunk of last season on the team.
When asked about Fredette specifically, Pop replied, "He's a shooter, he's a scorer, and we're looking for that type of thing to add to the team. People always look at the big guys, but we started last season thinking that not having Patty Mills is going to be a big factor for us, and it was huge. It took him a long time... first of all you don't have him for the first half, and then it took him a long time to get back into the flow. And this year Marco (Belinelli) not being here is important. He came off the bench and helped us in a lot of games and I think that's a big concern."
So perhaps the skipper isn't quite sold on the Summer League performances of Simmons and Kyle Anderson just yet maybe I don't know.
Eventually besides Pop we also got Parker, Aldridge, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard to do interviews in the media scrum and those went mostly as you would expect. We got time with West too, however, and he was candid and thoughtful so be on the lookout for a story about that.
It turns out the highlight of the session was Pop pranking NBATV reporter Jared Greenberg (warning: adult language) before he made his way over to us, but it just goes to show you that in real life he's a pretty nice guy and the gruff, monosyllabic and sarcastic curmudgeon we often get in interviews is just a character he plays for his own reasons, much like what Stephen Colbert did so brilliantly for a decade on Comedy Central.
Honestly, Pop would've probably been a better choice to replace Jon Stewart than Trevor Noah, but that's neither here nor there.