Posts Tagged ‘San Antonio Express News’

Report: Parker Set For MRI On Knee

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — San Antonio Spurs All-Star point guard Tony Parker has suffered yet another injury while toiling for the French national team and is scheduled for an MRI on his right knee, as first reported by the French sports daily L’Equipe.

Parker was injured sometime during his team’s 85-84 exhibition loss to Spain, a game in which he scored 26 of his 29 points after halftime. He reportedly missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have won the game.

The San Antonio Express-News is reporting that the injury does not appear to be serious. But that won’t soothe the fears of Spurs fans who know that they need Parker healthy for the start of training camp and the 2013-14 season.

EuroBasket will run from Sept. 4-22 in Slovenia, but Parker won’t be seeing many of his NBA All-Star brethren there. Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, Los Angeles Lakers big man Pau Gasol and Chicago Bulls stars Joakim Noah and Luol Deng are among the key names skipping the tournament for various reasons.

Those four battled injury issues at one time or another last season, just as Parker did. But none of them rebounded in the postseason the way Parker did for the Spurs, who were 30 seconds away from winning the NBA title in Game 6 of The Finals against the Miami Heat.

The Spurs’ chances of a Finals return rest on Parker staying healthy and leading a veteran team that does not have a backup point guard capable of replicating his play, even on a temporary basis.

For the Spurs’ sake, the results of Parker’s MRI need to confirm the Express-News’ report that the injury is not serious.

Duncan = The Big Discount?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Tim Duncan’s Hall of Fame credentials are set. His legacy needs no polishing at this late stage of his magnificent career.

And yet Duncan continues to shine.

He’s doing it this time without even touching the court. By taking a whopping 54 percent pay cut to remain with the Spurs, he abstained from the summer’s free-agent-palooza and allowed the Spurs to maintain their financial flexibility. That helped San Antonio keep its core group intact as it tries to mount one last championship run in the Duncan era.

As Jeff McDonald of the Express News reports, there was no need for a negotiating session:

“I’m an awful negotiator,” Duncan said, chuckling. “My agent was mad at me the whole time.”

Duncan was on hand at the Spurs’ practice facility Tuesday for the start of his 16th NBA training camp. That would have been surprising only if the notoriously casual dresser had arrived in something out of Craig Sager’s wardrobe.

Though technically a free agent for about a week in early July, the 36-year-old Duncan said he never seriously considered retirement and never remotely entertained the idea of playing elsewhere.

“I’ve been here for so long,” said Duncan, who took no calls from rival teams. “This is home for me.”

That’s a welcome statement for NBA observers who still cringe at the memory of Hakeem Olajuwon in a Toronto Raptors jersey or Patrick Ewing in Seattle SuperSonics green.

Taking that pay cut means Duncan instantly became The Big Discount. With his reported $9.6 million salary, Duncan moves from near the top of the league’s earnings list to a new spot behind the likes of Al Jefferson and Carlos Boozer, solid big men who will both earn $15 million this season but won’t rank anywhere near Duncan when their careers are over.

Two Gordons, Eric ($13.6) and Ben ($12.4), will both earn more than Duncan this season, as will Hedo Turkoglu ($11.8), Corey Maggette ($10.9), DeAndre Jordan and even former Spurs swingman Richard Jefferson ($10.1).

That doesn’t include the four amnestied players — Brandon Roy, Gilbert Arena, Elton Brand and Rashard Lewis — all of whom will earn between $21 (Roy) and $15 (Lewis) million for not playing with the teams that owed them that money. Arenas isn’t even on anyone’s training camp roster.

In an era when folks love to poke players for being all about the “Benjamins,” Duncan deserves some credit for being about everything but his own bottom line!

Manu Ginobili ‘Healed And Healthy’

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — With all of the news these days about players going down with significant injuries, the San Antonio Spurs will soon welcome back one of their biggest names. Manu Ginobili is set to return sometime in the next “week or so,” according to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, providing a boost for a team that has more than held its own without the All-Star shooting guard.

The Spurs are 14-7 in the 21 games Ginobili missed, including last night’s 89-84 win in Memphis. Ginobili was on the court shooting Monday morning, per Jeff McDonald of the Express-News, and caught the eye of both Tony Parker and Popovich:

The first bus already had departed the FedEx Forum on Monday morning, taking most of the Spurs’ traveling party back to the team hotel after shootaround.

Tony Parker wasn’t quite ready to leave.

“I’m going to stay and watch Manu shoot,” Parker told a Spurs staffer.

On the mend from a fractured fifth metacarpal in his left hand, Manu Ginobili lingered late to get up a few extra shots.

Parker wasn’t the only interested spectator. Coach Gregg Popovich also stuck around to supervise the session, which was closed to the media.

Later, before tipoff against Memphis, Popovich gave the most optimistic assessment yet of his All-Star guard’s progress.

“The doctors say he’s healed and healthy,” Popovich said before the Spurs’ 89-84 win over the Grizzlies. “It’s just a matter of conditioning and timing, rhythm and confidence, all those things right now.”

When Ginobili comes back he could reprise the sixth-man role he has played at various times throughout his career with the Spurs, but only to help ease him back into the action, according to Popovich.

It won’t matter to Parker and the rest of the Spurs, who will welcome back an All-Star in a season where so many others — Zach Randolph, Al Horford and now Chauncey Billups — have been lost for the longer stretches and in some cases the entire season.

Much Ado About The Amnesty Rule …

– For labor updates, follow: @daldridgetnt | @AschNBA

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Rarely have so few words received so much scrutiny.

But if we didn’t know any better, the amnesty provision in the NBA’s new labor proposal (and that’s all it remains at this point, until the untangling process is complete) would appear to be the most important piece of the pending collective bargaining agreement.

It seems strange that something that will be utilized by such a small number of teams would be the focus of everyone’s attention. Yet when you realize the names that could potentially be impacted by the rule — Brandon Roy, Rashard Lewis, Baron Davis, Richard Jefferson, Mehmet Okur, Gilbert Arenas and several others — the intense examination of how the rule works makes much more sense.

Folks in Portland have already singled out Roy as one of the certain casualties of the amnesty rule, with John Canzano of the Oregonian providing the background for how and why it will go down:

The whisper at One Center Court is that Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen won’t bother to take one last look at Brandon Roy before he goes amnesty clause on the guy who won all those games for him.

Here’s hoping Allen does. And that the longest look is into Roy’s eyes.

“Brandon’s out,” a league executive told me Monday. “Don’t know the exact details, but everyone around the league knows it’s way, way done. Paul and Bert (Kolde) are calling the shots on this one.”

While the amnesty provision seems like the hot topic of the day, there are other items in the tentative labor agreement, outlined in a letter from Billy Hunter to the players, a copy of which was obtained by‘s Sam Amick, that require more attention.


Labor Talks: Still No Common Ground

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The good news first: the two sides in the NBA’s labor dispute will meet again Monday.

The bad news? After spending a huge chunk of Friday’s session and nearly all day Saturday trying to find common ground, the sides are still “miles apart.”

That’s better than galaxies apart and even worlds apart. But it clearly puts us no closer to a solution than we were before the weekend began. That said, Monday’s and perhaps Tuesday’s scheduled sessions can yield more positive returns.

In the meantime, we’ll return to the sobering news that progress has been anything but steady …

Full Season Unlikely?

Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated: The threatened “enormous consequences” have yet to appear, but they will be revealed soon enough. Two days of extended negotiations concluded Saturday with little optimism that the NBA owners and players can end their lockout in time to rescue the full 82-game schedule.

Most fans will say nothing is more important than starting the season on time Nov. 1. But the owners and players have agreed to disagree with their paying customers on that point. It is, in fact, one of the few points on which the union and owners have struck common ground.

They are so far apart on how to divvy up the $4 billion generated by their league — by far the most important issue separating them — that they agreed to not discuss it whatsoever Saturday. Instead they turned their attention to the so-called system issues, including the rules for player contracts, caps on team payrolls, annual exceptions and the like. After spending all of Saturday and much of Friday on these topics they could claim little more than a better understanding of each other’s positions.

“It at least helped us to focus on a couple of issues,” said deputy commissioner Adam Silver. “Some of the earlier meetings have been a little bit more rambling in terms of various issues sort of raised and taken off the table, put back on the table.”

Commissioner David Stern acknowledged “a pretty broad gap” between the owners’ and players’ goals for a new system. “We’re not near anything,” added Stern. “But wherever that is, we’re closer than we were before.”

Stern would not say when the league would announce the cancellation of the remaining preseason games, nor would he hint at a deadline to reach agreement and save the full season. But the likely window is a scant 10 days to two weeks.

Modest Movement On Certain Issues

Ken Berger of The “modest movement” on system issues that one person in the negotiating room described to came only after the two sides, at [Billy] Hunter‘s suggestion, agreed to separate the division of basketball-related income (BRI) from the system issues such as the cap, contract length, nature of exceptions and luxury tax. The decision to tackle the two major sticking points in the negotiations separately came after players threatened to walk out of the bargaining session Friday upon learning that the owners have not moved off of their standing economic proposal that would give the players a 46 percent share of BRI — down from the 57 percent they received under the agreement that expired July 1.

“We’re very far apart in BRI and made no progress in that,” NBPA lawyer Jeffrey Kessler said. “So we tried to see if we could make any progress in something else.”


Reading The Labor Tea Leaves

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Good luck trying to figure out which way the wind is blowing in the NBA’s ongoing labor impasse.

One minute all seems lost, with voices from both sides (players and owners) dispensing ominous soundbites about their fear that any sort of peaceful accord is anywhere in sight. And then the next, we hear that progress, however slight, is being made and that perhaps there is a chance that common ground is in the distance.

And then comes the announcement, Friday morning, that the league is wiping out the first week of camps and preseason games.

It’s a wicked game being played by those trapped inside of the labor dispute matrix. And we’re forced to do our best to read the tea leaves every day to see if we can decipher fact from fiction.

Good luck:

There Is Still Hope

Ken Berger of After more than two years of negotiations, it’s finally time to negotiate.

Following a series of small compromises by both sides, it was the owners’ turn to move the needle in a significant way. And they did: According to a person briefed on the negotiations, the league put forth a new number on the split of revenues, or basketball-related income, on Thursday, a step that could help propel the talks forward even as the start of training camps were set to be delayed and preseason games canceled — with such gloomy but fully expected and insignificant announcements expected Friday.

“It’s moving,” said another person with knowledge of the talks. “Not as fast as some people would want, but it’s moving.”

According to one of the people familiar with the bargaining, here is some of what transpired Thursday: After signaling last week that the players’ offer to move lower than the 54.3 percent share of BRI was a starting point that could lead to a deal on economics, league negotiators came back with their own number. Unsurprisingly, the number was lower than what the players had last proposed, though multiple people involved in the talks refused to specify by how much.

The owners’ proposed BRI split was made without specific system details tied to it, and the number itself was “unacceptable” to the union leadership, one of the sources said. Thus, the faces of both sides emerged from the Manhattan hotel after five hours of bargaining and delivered the same vague non-answers with strikingly similar flatlined demeanors and monotone voices.

“I’m sorry, but the most important thing is to see whether we can’t have negotiations conducive to ultimately getting a deal, which is what our committee and our board will like,” commissioner David Stern said on his 69th birthday. “And having these conversations with you doesn’t add anything to that. And that’s the dilemma.”

Cancellation Of Camp Could Send More Overseas

Mike Monroe of the Express-News: The decision could move some key Spurs to join the growing list of players signing on with teams overseas.

Before departing Argentina, where he helped Brazil qualify for next summer’s Olympic tournament, center Tiago Splitter told the Express-News he would sign on with Flamengo, a Brazilian club where former Suns guard Leandro Barbosa currently plays, if training camps were postponed or canceled.

“I do not want to be waiting for something to happen,” Splitter said. “I want to be playing, so if our (Spurs) camp will not start on time then I think I will sign with Flamengo.

“Of course, I will make sure I will be able to join the Spurs when the lockout ends, but I want to be playing and working on my game.”


About Last Night: Leaders Of The Pack

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — All this chatter about the new world order and the youth movement that was going to take over the league has been squelched by the NBA’s elder statesmen.

Miami and Oklahoma City are still working out the details while seasoned crews in other places seize the opportunity to set the pace for the rest of the league.

In the Eastern Conference, it’s the Boston Celtics ruling the roost so far, their mix of veteran savvy and leadership paired beautifully with the a virtuoso start to the season by Rajon Rondo.

In the Western Conference, the supposedly over-the-hill San Antonio Spurs continue to defy father time, refusing to age gracefully (or at all it seems) despite a Big 3 of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker that has seen its best days come and go.

With plenty of thirty-somethings littering both rosters, some people have a hard time seeing these two teams keeping up this pace over the course of an 82-game regular season.  Since most of us here at the hideout are “Thirty-somethings” as well, we’re rooting for the old folks to show these young whippersnappers how it’s done.

In addition to superior talent, coaching and staying on the right side of the injury bug karma, most elite teams need at least a couple of guys on the roster that understand the nuances of a winning operation. Both the Celtics and Spurs (not to mention the Dallas Mavericks, winners of nine straight games themselves) have handfuls of guys like that to call on when they need them.

It’s one of the beauties of how they’ve been constructed and managed, courtesy of Celtics GM Danny Ainge and coach Doc Rivers and Spurs GM R.C. Buford and coach Gregg Popovich, respectively.


Hang Time Podcast (Episode 34)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Did we throw too much at Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder too soon?

Should Pat Riley have replaced Erik Spoelstra months ago?

And why are we just wasting our time with all these regular season games when we all know that the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics are going to do their NBA Finals dance all over again in June?

Those are just three of the questions we tackled, there’s plenty more, on Episode 34 of the Hang Time Podcast with special guests Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express News and’s very own Shaun Powell, two of the most seasoned NBA observers on the planet.

Listen Here:

Our guests weren’t short on opinions as we looked back at the first month of the regular season and revisited some summer time predictions to see how ridiculous they must seem right now.

Some of them (the Bucks were supposed to be ready for a move into the Eastern Conference penthouse) are bit more egregious than others (the Thunder will be the second best team in the Western Conference this season). But we’re not cutting any corners around here. We’re calling anyone out that needs it.

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine, our super producer Micah Hart of’s All Ball Blog and your host Sekou Smith on Twitter.

– To download the podcast, click here and here . To subscribe via iTunes, click here.