Practice shots: On depth, conditioning, and preparation



Tim Duncan needs help: San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has been known to rest Tim Duncan from time to time during the grind of a regular 82-game season.

If newly reappointed starting center DeJuan Blair had his way, the Spurs would be even more cautious during the chaotic 66-games-in-122-days season that begins Monday at home against the Memphis Grizzlies.

“I’d rather Tim [Duncan] sit out until the playoffs. That’s my big brother I don’t want him to get hurt, so I’m saving him,” Blair joked. “That’s me, I would sit him out. But he’s good. He’ll want to play every game if his body lets him.

“But it’s Pop’s decision. I’ve got his back.”

The problem with that strategy is, as Blair readily admitted, that the San Antonio Spurs still rely desperately on their former MVP and the playoffs without him hardly seems like an option.

There are no answers to preparing for the grind of a lockout shortened season. Whatever the San Antonio Spurs learned as an organization from the 1999 NBA Lockout has long been implemented in their program.

The 2011-2012 NBA season could very well be a battle of attrition. Unfortunately for the Spurs the only answer to survive may be to throw as many bodies at the problem and hope a few of them stick.

Currently the Spurs have a four-man front court rotation featuring starters Duncan and Blair, and reserves Matt Bonner and Tiago Splitter. Beyond that the only big man proven to be a viable rotation player is new intern coach Sean Marks

“We’re going to find out if guys can play, if guys are ready to go and contribute,” Duncan said. “Because we’re going to have to use a lot of guys. Whether you want to or not, you’re going to have to put people out there and let them sink of swim.”

Goodbye practice facility, we hardly knew ye: Through the summer and most of the fall the San Antonio Spurs practice facility sat empty. When the Spurs break training camp on Saturday Blair feels fears it may sit silent for months to come.

“[We] might not see this gym for the whole season,” Blair said. “It’s going to be in and out, a lot of traveling.”

While it hasn’t exactly been camp cupcake, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has treaded cautiously in pushing his players too hard or trying to implement too much.

“[We’re trying to] squeeze a lot into a short time,” Popovich said. “We try to squeeze a lot of things in but also not try and go too fast.

“We all have to try to gauge what we think we can get in well, instead of getting things in sloppily. It’ll take time.”

In a shortened season with an aging team time would seem to be the one thing lacking. But Spurs center Tim Duncan believes his team is up to the task.

“I think the team is ready to go. Obviously we have some things to work out and it will take some games to get there,” Duncan said. “But all in all we feel pretty good about starting.”

DeJuan Blair is your starting center: When the San Antonio Spurs take the court Monday night against the Memphis Grizzlies, it will be like DeJuan Blair is seeing them for the first time again.

“I didn’t play. At all. The whole series,” Blair said referring to his nearly nonexistent minutes in last year’s first round playoff loss and multiple DNP-CD’s. “I thought about it the whole lockout, but as soon as I stepped in here in training camp last year was over.”

  • Mac

    Oy vey.

  • Juan Mari

    Are we going to sign some free agent big men?? Powell, Dampier, Przybilla…??

  • Tim in Surrey

    Don’t know if you noticed but apparently they did try hard to sign Chuck Hayes, which would’ve been ideal. Unfortunately, though, even after Sacramento’s strange little stunt it was still tough to compete with them as they could offer more money and are his hometown team. But I think it shows that Pop & RC are looking for good players.

  • Doaisd

    I know they wanted to sign Hayes, but now it’s two days to season opening, and there is no much good players left… We need two big guys

  • Anonymous

    Not sure the front office can be trusted in getting a quantified big to play this year.  Regardless of financial hurdles…they seemed to let the best option of the 3 camp newbies go when they waived Lawal.  I mean,  I understand in not just wanting to throw a body in there but, if that’s all you have you could have at least kept the best one out of the three.

    On to a merrier note.  Happy holidays everyone.

  • terrico

    We MUST have at least one big man more in this team… we should try to acquire some vet for a minimum

  • Bob

    Ideally I would have liked Splitter to start and for the Spurs to have gotten a backup big. The good side of it however is Blair plays well with the starting five and Splitter plays well with Bonner.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t care if he starts or not as long as he plays 30 minutes. Then you’ll get the most out of  Splitter.

  • Anonymous

    Merry Christmas to you too.

  • Anonymous

    Seems like the economics of this free agency has gotten the Spurs in a stranglehold. Inflation has hit the market in the NBA. Are they copying baseball’s lead. Hope not. If so we are in deep S^&*. We can’t sign the water boy.

  • Anonymous

    Like I said trade Happy feet err winter shoes or Blair for Kosta Koufos. Do it now while the Nuggets are 3 deep at the 5 spot.

  • Thomasholdren


  • Colin

    Blair + Bonner in the same defensive front court = buckets for the other team

  • Ues2BSeaTickHolder

    Pop/RC used to put big defensive teams together in the there Championship years, each year since there teams have gotten weaker defensively.  I scratch my head when I see Blair and Bonner in the game at the same time.  Just doesn’t make sense.  And the worst part about it is the local sports writers and alike will never question Popovich motives.  This town is run by just a handful of families and the sports writers a scared to lose the job. See Kevin O Keefe, (former Express News sports writer) he simply did what sports writers are supposed to do;  He ask the tough questions. 

  • Anonymous

    Good for Kevin. Those other ones that are asking the dumb questions after each game piss me off. Give me a mic for one night and   I’ll  ask some real questions? “Not, Has DeJuan cut down on the whataburgers?” Or something as lame as that. We have some lame reporters too afraid to do their jobs. I’ts embarrassing. Thanks Kevin for being a real pro.

  • Anonymous

    If your laughing at Kofos take a look at what he’s going to do this season then you’ll see what I mean. He’s better than those two put together.

  • DorieStreet

    We fans will just have to sit back and observe what we have for now as game 1of 2011-12 is now in the books.  (1-0, 65 to go.) There is still a trade deadline down the road.

  • DorieStreet

    That’s just the MO of 95% of the league’s local media coverage (including play-by-play and color analysts). And most fans go along with it: how many times have you read on this blog some Spurs fans  critques/questions of moves/non-moves made by the franchise—-and the blistering responses of others in return?

  • James Frichner

    You must really, really, really love this photo.   …   Don’t worry, I love it too! Especially the look of powerless rage on Blair’s face. It goes well with Matt’s “No matter how hard I try, every single person I have to guard, in every single game, is more athletically talented then I am, and no one cares that I make all my three pointers because I look like I am a severely physically challenged fourth grader shooting from half-court … that’s why I just gave up on the play” look. I chuckle every time.

  • DannyHolloway

    Ues2B? As in you Use2knowHowToSpell?