Blair in Russia
Every summer, we fret over how much Spurs veterans are playing in the summer. We worry about the risk of injury and the added miles that a tournament places on players, especially as these offseason tournaments tend to conclude so close to the start of training camp. This summer, though, there is less of a reason to give pause given the uncertain nature of collective bargaining talks between the NBA and Players Association. If the regular season doesn’t start until January, it shouldn’t hurt for members of the Spurs to get some competitive basketball in their systems for a few weeks. Unfortunately, San Antonio’s American-born players don’t have that luxury. The US Senior National Team is not taking part in any competitions this summer, and even if they were, no Spurs would likely be suiting up for the red, white and blue.
Instead, these players are looking for other options abroad. Danny Green has already signed and departed for Slovenia, joining draft pick Davis Bertans on Union Olimpija. More recently, DeJuan Blair agreed to a deal in Russia with Krasnye Krylya Samara. Blair’s signing might be the most welcome news of the summer until we hear of a resolution in the lockout. Blair battled weight issues this past season and, as far as I know, there are no Whataburgers in Russia. Jokes aside, Blair’s conditioning is important when the Spurs begin next season. Where Blair stands in the Spurs big man rotation is a complete unknown right now because Antonio McDyess has yet to decide his own future and free agency has yet to begin. If Blair reports to training camp sharp and in shape, he gives Gregg Popovich a known quantity amidst other variables in the equation.
Even on the upside that an agreement is reached between the players and owners in time to play a full regular season, just a handful of weeks training in Russia should be more effective than what Blair did back home. Two-a-days in Russia trump summer pro-am runs in the states any day, in my opinion.