Malik Hairston heads to Italy
When San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer said before the Las Vegas Summer League that Malik Hairston wasn’t playing because Hairston had fans in San Antonio, apparentlyÂ he meant some Italians who were in town to offer Malik a contract.
In fairly surprising news today, Malik Hairston signed a two year deal with Italian club Montepaschi Siena. From Euroleague.net:
Italian League champion Montepaschi Siena kept completing its roster for the upcoming 2010-11 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Basketball season by inking small forward Malik Hairston to a two-year deal, the club confirmed Thursday. Hairston arrives from NBA powerhouse San Antonio, where he averaged 2.6 points in 38 NBA games last season. Last season, Hairston also played for Austin, averaging 29.1 points on 41.4% three-pointers and 4.7 rebounds in 15 D-League games before returning to the Spurs.
It comes as a bit of surprise to see Hairston head across the pond. He played limited minutes last year in the silver and black before getting injured late in the season and missing the playoffs. This summer, it seemed he was on the verge of breaking into San Antonio’s rotation for next season, and the assumption that he didn’t need to play the Spurs’ summer league team only increased that feeling.
But it looks like there was another reason for Hairston to not be in Vegas.
Looking at San Antonio’s offseason moves, maybe this one isn’t all that surprising. The Spurs front office drafted James Anderson with their first round pick. Then Hairston was not on San Antonio’s summer league team in Las Vegas, where the Spurs executives took a long, hard look at Alonzo Gee.Â After summer league, the Spurs signed guard Gary Neal to aÂ guaranteedÂ three year deal.
These moves, all in addition to re-signing Richard Jefferson, marginalized Hairston’s spot on the roster just a bit.
Though only 6’6″, Hairston plays more like a small forward than shooting guard. While he could’ve fit in behind Jefferson on the depth chart, it looks like the Spurs want to go into a different direction. Expect San Antonio to sign a small forward with the remaining portion of the midlevel exception, or bring one into training camp at the veteran’s minimum.
Tip of the cap to commenter TDzilla and the folks at Spurstalk for getting out ahead on this news.