Practice notes: Cory Joseph putting in work



The last player to leave the practice court, San Antonio Spurs rookie point guard Cory Joseph worked tirelessly, hoisting jump shot after jump shot from the elbows, each off a different basketball move.

It took long enough for Joseph to join his teammates in training camp, with immigration issues holding him out of practice until literally hours before the Spurs first–and second-to-last–preseason game. No sense in leaving the court now that he is finally allowed to be on it.

“(The learning curve) is still pretty steep,” Joseph said. “We’re just getting together, I’ve only been here a couple of days now. They’re brigning me along fast, I’m just here everyday trying to get back to work, trying to learn as much as I can as fast as I can.”

A quick combo guard with defensive potential, iffy jump shot, and a preference for scoring would seem to draw favorable comparisons to George Hill in his rookie season. A surprise one-and-done first round draft pick out of the University of Texas, Joseph is probably more of a mystery than even his predecessor was coming out of IUPUI.

“I thought he was from Brazil,” joked Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich when training camp opened, possibly referring to where Joseph spent his summer competing for his Canadian national team.

Joseph hopes his time spent with the Canadian team in Brazil against superior competition helps make up for time lost in the summer league and in a shortened training camp.

“Playing for the Canadian national team, meeting Manu and Tiago in Argentina, it was great,” said Joseph. “There were a lot of NBA players there, NBA quality players, and a lot of older guys. I was just learning from that.”

With backup point guard T.J. Ford on the roster and Gary Neal having spent much of the summer honing his point guard skills to help pick up the slack for departed combo guard George Hill, Joseph has the luxury of developing at his own pace this season. Perhaps even in continued anonymity in Austin with the Toros.

While Joseph acquitted himself well in a preseason game with only a shoot around to prepare, the Spurs have a little more depth than when Hill was thrust into action his rookie year. Replacing Popovich’s favorite player, for Joseph, is a longer road than the commute from Canada to San Antonio. Being the last one in the gym is a good start.

Tiago Splitter healthy at last: After getting dunked on by Spurs elder statesman Tim Duncan during the Spurs open scrimmage, second year big man Tiago Splitter could only smile, nod, and laugh.

“Well, I told him I wanted to make him look younger,” Splitter said. “That’s why I let him dunk on me.”

Duncan and Splitter have spent most of their time matched up against each other in training camp, and almost none on the same team, which could give some indication that Popovich plans on starting Blair but definitely shows the inability of either of the Spurs other two big men to matchup with Duncan defensively. The two did, however, spend a good portion of the summer working out together and Duncan expects good things.

“We expected more from Tiago (even before McDyess retired),” Duncan said. “He’s got some time under his belt now, we worked out a lot together this summer, so I expect a lot from him.”

For his part Splitter expects a much better season if only because he is over the nagging injuries that plagued him last year.

“My body feels much better, I feel healthy,” Splitter said. “And that’s more important to me right now.”


  • Anonymous

    “Replacing Popovich’s favorite player, for Joseph, is a longer road than the commute from Canada to San Antonio”

    Funny stuff. 

    Question.  With TJ Ford and Neal as PG options behind Parker…is Joseph really going to be relegated to D-league if he proves to be good enough to play in the league now or…does he become trade fodder?

    PG’s- Parker, Ford, Neal, Joseph

    SG’s- Ginobili, Anderson, Neal

    SF’s- Jefferson, Leonard, Anderson

    A solid core of perimeter players if Anderson and Leonard develop into consistent nba gamers.

  • grego

    No, because Ford isn’t long term. Spurs are re-building as they continue to win. 
    Anderson/Leonard/Joseph are likely to be the 3 there team is built around going forward with others like Lorbek/Bertrans/Richards filling in other pieces. . 

  • Anonymous

    “No, because Ford isn’t long term”

    Then that’s one I don’t understand or more so doesn’t make since at this time.  Ford is signed on for 8mil but is not projected (according to you) to be a “long term” player in the organization. And I can see why if Joseph and or Neal become consistent in this league.  Why pay Ford 8 mil if you get the same production from 2 to 4 mil.

    However, with no quality bigs on the team besides an aging Duncan yet a bevy of talent and potential talent on the perimeter…sounds to me (if what you state be true about Ford and the other younger players)…perhaps Ford is here as trade bait / future cap relief only?

    Lorbek/Bertrans/Richards….Really?  That’s the future of the Spurs post.  Sorry but….I don’t think any opponent in the future will stay awake at night planning against that rotation.

  • Andrew A. McNeill

    TJ Ford signed with the Spurs for the minimum.

  • grego

    Spurs are re-building while trying to still win. Without high draft picks, they have to take chances and do it slowly. Richard/Bertrans/Lorbek represent that. As Spurs continue, they’ll look to bolster their youth.

    Eventually, they’ll get better position in the draft. That’s pretty much a given. The good news is the Spurs are already making those moves rather than after the fact. And as Andrew said, Ford is a vet min guy. And it’ll prove to be a great deal. He might be around for a year or two more, but then he’s gone. 

    The best trade bait was McDyess paired with another player or two like Bonner/Blair, but no one wanted the cap relief. So it’s going to be tough to see anything else happen through trade. 

  • TD BestEVER

    “Duncan and Splitter have spent most of their time matched up against
    each other in training camp, and almost none on the same team, which
    could give some indication that Popovich plans on starting Blair but
    definitely shows the inability of either of the Spurs other two big men
    to matchup with Duncan defensively.”Read more: all the hype and fuss and waiting for Tiago to get here and after his horrible rookie year….. He still isn’t ready……. This is a joke!!!!

  • Nima K.

    I think the 8 Mil figure was his last year’s. Seems he signed for 1.266 Mil with the Spurs. And probably prorated from what Ive read: 

  • Nima K.

    I wonder if we were to somehow get Javtokas or Lorbek, would they be up to the task? I know Richards and Bertans are not ready.

  • Lvmainman

    Why did the Spurs use their 1st round pick on Joseph? Does R.C. have Texas blinders on being the guardian for Wangeme? Aren’t back up guards a dime a dozen in the NBA? Is he supposed to be better than Avery Bradley or D.J. Augustine or T.J. Ford (all PG’s from Texas) have proven to be as NBA players?

    Why not draft a Justin Harper, Trey Thompkins, Jon Leuer or a Jeremy Tyler? The 1st 3 can all play the 4 position as well as make 3 pointers. Tyler is a beefy, high-school aged C with potential upside.  All 4 players will probably be better than Ryan Richards and play more NBA games.

    I don’t understand the appeal of Cory Joesph being drafted when a big is(was) needed.

  • Jesse Blanchard

    Not at all. I’m sure that Duncan and Splitter will start the playoffs together. But right now the Spurs need DeJuan Blair to be a viable rotation guy. The only player he can play with offensively that can hide him on defense is Duncan. Blair needs to play next to Timmy as much as possible. 

    The best way to do that, with what will likely be a strict cap on Timmy’s minutes, is to start him next to Blair. 

  • Jesse Blanchard

    Because big men at that draft range are also a dime a dozen, and the Spurs then had just traded George Hill leaving a gaping hole at the backup point guard spot.  And as for as dime a dozen backup guards, would you rate Hill as such?

  • Anonymous

    Correct you are.  ESPN’s got it listed wrong.

  • Hobson13

    I, myself, was unsure of the pick on draft night simply because I had not heard of the guy, but I actually think the Spurs made a good pick.  I don’t see Cory playing much this year, but I think he could be very good maybe 2 years out.  I understand your point about needing another big, but I highly doubt any big picked 29th in last year’s weak draft would make an immediate impact on our roster.  I think we are just screwed this year when it comes to a good 5th big. 

  • Anonymous

    Agree with most you are saying.  And I understand teams will decline as their stars get older.

    What I believe to be a poor job in the past is the wasting of draft picks on players that could not start playing right away in order to start contributing / getting acclimated sooner.

    AE: Tiago may or may not pan out to be a top post player in this league.  High draft pick yielding minimal return to date and not near the defensive presence this team needs in the post.  Scola lost due to buyout restrictions as a foreign player.  Now Lorbek/Bertrans/Richards all having to wait.  So far Scola is the only one that has made a significant impact in this league and he was lost in translation.

    Agreed the team had a great plan in building through the draft.  Executing that plan has been at best mediocre. And now…what consists of the Spurs post game?

    Could get ugly this year.  And with no clear replacement, or in the least, dependable option other than Duncan, it could be a longer wait than anticipated in contrast to all the hype of how great the executive branch has conducted business in getting players who fill a need for this team.

  • grego

    This is more the case of Blair not being good enough. It’s almost like Manu. He wasn’t demoted to coming off the bench, but he was so good that he fit better off the bench because they other guys couldn’t handle coming off the bench with the same effectiveness. 

    In Blair and Splitter, Blair needs to start because Duncan starts. 

  • Anonymous

    “The best trade bait was McDyess paired with another player or two like
    Bonner/Blair, but no one wanted the cap relief. So it’s going to be
    tough to see anything else happen through trade.”

    Not meaning to nit pick your response by replying twice.  In fact, I’ve communicated with you several times over the year’s on this site and others under different names and hold you in high regard of your opinions and knowledge.

    But, it is very rare and seldom done that team’s trade big’s for bigs or guards for guards.  The majority of the time it is usually a perimeter player for big in a trade situation.  Not sure, even though Dyess may have been the best trade option for a team, the spurs getting a quality big in return unless one of our perimeter players were thrown in.

    That’s why my train of thought is in trading one, possibly two of this team’s perimeter players for a big and the only way I believe the Spurs could ever land a quality big without being a lottery team.

  • grego

    Spurs usually draft a low position. TO get talent, they usually have to take risks. Spurs have done that. They’ve done well for the most part, but no gambler wins 100% of the time. 

    Spurs moved to guys who could make real impacts like Hill, Anderson, Leonard. Bertrans and Lorbek came from the Leonard deal. To me, that’s awesome. Not only did they get a big forward with a lot of potential talent, but they also got two other guys who can do something. 

    As far as consistently getting guys like Hill/Anderson, it’s luck. Sometimes they are there, sometimes they are not. Spurs aren’t perfect, but they do as well if not the best of all teams. 

    The new CBA helps with buyouts and foreign players so that is good. Splitter is here and is an example of the overseas process. Manu is as well. 

    How do they get a big in limited draft position though? Please tell me how that works. Sure, they could trade, but then they start digging into their core assets. If you keep moving assets, you stay in an ugly cycle. They need a big, but by the time they took Joseph, the bigs were pretty useless then. That said, even if they took a big, he likely wouldn’t be a high impact player any time soon. 

    It might get ugly, but sooner or later, it’s going to happen. The big 3 won’t be around much longer. 

  • TD BestEVER

    That’s a head scratchier…….. SO instead of playing our best Big’s POP decides to play the Blair because Blair is so bad…….. In what universe is that logical and I’m a Blair fan……..I just think he would be better coming off the bench playing against other backups(usually shorter and less talented)

  • Tim in Surrey

    No, I think it makes sense. I suspect that part of it is still a developmental move. While DeJuan’s not very effective on defense and not nearly effective enough as a scoring forward, he’s still extremely young. And right now Tiago duplicates Tim to a large extent. So for both to be able to develop their games, I think it’s smart to play Tim with DeJuan and Tiago with the Red Rocket. That way when Tim is not playing (e.g. in the middle game of a back-three-back), Tiago can essentially keep playing the same role, only with the starters. Then, as the season goes along he can start to get more comfortable playing alongside Tim so that by the playoffs, hopefully, they can play together.

    Also… I have a feeling that we’re going to see a good bit of Kawhi playing a small 4. I love the idea of a speedy defensive lineup, with Tiago and Kawhi in the middle and a bunch of quick defenders on the perimeter (maybe JA, Gary Neal, and Cory Joseph?), to wear teams out while our slower starters get a bit of a rest. I don’t know that Pop will do it, but it would be interesting to see–sort of like George Karl’s young bench mob in Denver. (Too bad San Antonio’s not 5,000 feet higher.)

  • Tim in Surrey

    Yeah, it caught me by surprise, too. But I didn’t know that much about him. I didn’t watch much of UT last year. But I have a lot of respect for Barnes as an evaluator of talent (although I think he’s not as strong as a developer of talent and a strategist). Still, I didn’t see it coming. I assume, however, that since he was just up the road and in the same town as the D-League affiliate that they had seen quite a lot of him and they seem to have a good ability to judge the character of prospects. So if you consider that they had a good idea that he would be a hard worker with a positive idea, he certainly had the physical talent to be a solid rotation player. And at that point in the draft you have to be happy with those traits–especially if, as Jesse pointed out, it also fills a need.

    Really, though, getting ANYTHING from this draft is a win because it was one of the weakest in recent years. Getting a potential star forward (Kawhi Leonard), a backcourt rotation player (Cory Joseph), and a raw stretch 4 with star potential (Davis Bertans) out of that draft without a lottery pick was, in my opinion, pretty nice work. Seriously, look at the draft. Guys like Tobias Harris were getting picked as power forwards IN THE LOTTERY. That’s a weak draft. RC did alright.

  • Tim in Surrey

    Sorry, as to Lvmainman’s question, I’ll happily answer him: Jon Leuer is Steve Novak 2.0, and Justin Harper might develop into a poor man’s Ryan Anderson. Neither of them will help at all in terms of interior defense, especially this year. And Davis Bertans is exactly the same type of player but with far, far more potential. So if you wanted them to draft a stretch 4 with potential… mission accomplished! Jeremy Tyler has a great NBA body but he has serious issues above the shoulders. He may mature and develop into a solid big man but if he does it certainly won’t be this year. At this point, he’s essentially a poor man’s Stromile Swift or Anthony Randolph, which is also not what we need. Thompkins will be a player, in my opinion. His draft position came about because of a poor junior year, when he was pretty banged up all season. But as a Vanderbilt fan, I saw him play quite a lot against my team and he was very good. Still, he’s not exactly an interior defender. John Hollinger compares him to Brian Cook, which I think is grossly underestimating his athleticism (again, Hollinger seems to be basing this on last year, when he was limping all season). But he’s no Taj Gibson, that’s for sure.

    Again, it comes down to Pop’s comments that they weren’t going to add a big man just to have a big body out there. They need the right kind of player and there just weren’t any available where the Spurs were drafting.

  • Anonymous

    In retrospect and after a night of well deserved rest…I understand the points Grego, Tim in Surrey, and Jesse Blanchard are making.

    Not that it is any easier to swallow knowing full well this team is in dire need of another quality big but….it is what it is.  And we can all post the “what ifs” or the “why don’t they just do this” in trying to armchair our way into making decisions for the team.  It shows the passion for the team.

    Great point Tim in Surrey made…”Also… I have a feeling that we’re going to see a good bit of Kawhi
    playing a small 4. I love the idea of a speedy defensive lineup, with
    Tiago and Kawhi in the middle and a bunch of quick defenders on the
    perimeter (maybe JA, Gary Neal, and Cory Joseph?), to wear teams out
    while our slower starters get a bit of a rest.Read more: might be the best defensive type of unit we see on the floor this year until…I can still hope…the Spurs make a “good” trade that lands a typical quality big yet keeps a core of quality perimeter players.

  • manufan

    Why did we even draft Joseph, after all? As far as I remember we needed 4 or 5. Our back-court is overcrowded. Pop and RC need cut down on drinking. Best move that Peter Holt can make is to beg Sam Presti to came back to San Antonio.

  • grego

    Pop is learning from the mistake of Duncan/Dyess. That hurt the Spurs in the second unit last year and threw them out of their prior routine that worked better. This helps avoid a Bonner/Blair unit as much as possible. 

  • Titletown99030507d

    How do you get a good draft pick? Sacrifice and loose every game for that position. That’s how we got Dave and Timmy. There’s no other way around it. I guess we can start after Timmy and Manu are gone. although TP may not like but  hey it’s got start somewhere.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Here we go again. What’s up TD. To answer your question NO! That’s not what they’re saying. My guess is that they’re giving Blair one last chance to do something on his own. Timmy yet another year older is going to have a hard time making up for Blair’s defensive liabilities again, especially in this play every night schedule. But I have to say to Blair’s credit he looks fit and ready to go but I did see that he seemed rather unhappy at the scrimmage. I hope the mental bugs are a thing of the past because I really want to see him succeed. And as for Tiago at  least give him this season then you can make  a complete assessment on him because that’s pretty much what you’ll get thereafter. Hope it’s great. Keep my fingers crossed.

  • Titletown99030507d

    I could imagine if Richards tore it up during the summer and the GB Olympic trials he’d be here right now  because his contract is to the Swiss team is peanuts. But he’s not ready. I’ve seen a lot of Richards on the foreign sites and he has a killer perimeter shot, 3 point shot, and even some post moves but he is not even close to being an NBA employee when it comes to defense. That man is all offense hardly any defense but he’s young he’ll get it.

  • Titletown99030507d

    We have enough guards this season and still have nothing to show for in a big. Isn’t this the issue surrounding this team right now? At least that’s what I though.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Good point.  

    ” Presti led the design and implementation of the Spurs scouting database, a system that is now being used by numerous teams throughout the NBA.”

  • Anonymous

    So…if Joseph IS (according to some) the pg of the future the team wants to develop…why not trade Parker now and allow an experienced Ford and an astute Joseph run the point this year.  In all reality if the Spurs will not have an established post presence to go far in the playoffs…why not trade Parker now?  He is the most tradeable aspect of the team if the team would seriously look to rebuild for the future.

    The news out of Golden State is not good.  Stephen Curry was carted off the court after re-injuring his surgically repaired ankle.  If the prognosis is he is out for the season…Golden State doesn’t have a chance to advance far or even make the playoffs.  Hinrich provides a very serviceable PG for the duration and his contract is only for one year.  (8mil off the books next season if Curry is able to return).  The Warriors and the Spurs switch (for a lack of a better phrase) each of their respective players albatross contracts.  Beidrins for Jefferson.  Spurs get the worst of this deal but make up for it in acquiring Josh Smith from the Hawks.  Who will probably more than likely move on from Atlanta (and possibly easily lost for nothing) when his contract comes up for negotiation two years from now.  Hawks get that floor general in Parker they have sorely missed and is locked in for the next 3 years.  (From what I’ve heard, Parker’s contract is only partially guarantee in ’14-’15.)

    Back to Jefferson.  In Golden State he more than likely puts up similar numbers prior to joining the Spurs which makes the loss of Wright more bearable but with the “disguise” of at least trying to put forth a formidable team all the while vying for draft selection next year along with money to go after a strong free agent class.  Hence Ekpe Udoh included to help in the loss of Smith.

    Atlanta is in their prime for contention of a title.  Parker gives them what they don’t possess…a top notch PG.

    The Spurs now are in the run faster to rebuild than waiting for one or two of the big three to diminish significantly while having a core of youthfull promising perimeter players AND a top notch PF/C to lead the way for the future.

    Biedrins…well he might play at a level he played two years ago and then again he may not.  Better to amnesty him than Jefferson.  If it makes the deal go through, the Spurs could always offer some of their draft and stash players that so many believe will become the next Ginobili’s or Scola’a the Spurs have drafted before.

    I know…a long description to what probably would never happen.  But it’s all part of the fun of playing armchair GM.


  • Lvmainman

    George Hill was a good backup combo 2 guard, who also happened to play point guard. Spurs had Parker, Ginobili, Anderson, and Neal on the team already. Finding a T.J Ford, Beno Udrih, Goran Dragic, Ronnie Price, Mike Bibby, Nick Van Exel type of backup point guard would be easy. If taking a draft risk that low, I’d rather it be on a big man or a high scoring, penetrating type player than a backup PG.

    Time will tell if Cory Joseph is better than a backup PG. Better than a Beno Udrih/Goran Dragic type. We’ll see.

  • TexasBoi98

    its not about play the best bigs as it is playing the best combination of bigs.. blair and tiago have their deficiencies so the rotation is greatly affected by which bigs can compensate for the other’s short comings. a second unit of blair and bonner as the bigs won’t get it done, so i think pairing tiago with bonner would be more effective for the second unit.

  • DorieStreet

    This is going to be a memorable season, as Spurs players in different stages of their career, will somehow have to align/adjust their personal basketball goals and aspirations to believe that everyone playing to the best of their abilities can succeed this season in the playoffs (FO message/mantra). 

  • DorieStreet

    So you say set it up for it to get started once Duncan & Ginobili are gone, but it would really get expedited if Parker is dealt immediately after one of the other Core 3 retires.

  • Ezell

    cory joseph only came to USA ans enter the draft early for the money…he game is booty! I see him playing for “O” Canada soon….or overseas…. wasted pick for spurs!