The Biggest Mysteries for San Antonio Spurs Heading into Training Camp
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport
Mystery is not something that typically surrounds the San Antonio Spurs.
Gregg Popovich is a master of his coaching craft, Tim Duncan is one of the NBA's most dependable players and Tony Parker continues to keep himself in the argument as an elite point guard.
The league knows what to expect from San Antonio throughout the regular season, but they certainly are not an invincible or perfect team.
Heading into training camp, there are a few questions concerning the 2013-14 Spurs squad—some that will not have definite answers until the regular seasons tips off.
Though drastic measures are not necessary, San Antonio will attempt to get the mysteries resolved as soon as possible.
Does Tony Parker Need Rest?
Tony Parker is a busy—and dedicated—man.
Despite suffering two notable injuries during the 2012-13 regular and postseason, Parker forewent extended recovery time and chose to play for Team France during this summer's EuroBasket tournament.
Note: I am by no means criticizing Parker for representing his country. I believe it is a truly noble thing, and I'm sure it is immensely appreciated by his fellow countrymen.
According to FFBB.com via Project Spurs, Parker was experiencing thigh pain and also sat out an exhibition game versus Spain as a precautionary measure after getting hit above the knee.
Then, Parker recently admitted to Mark Woods on ESPN.com (h/t Ball Don't Lie Blog) that he was already tired as the EuroBasket championship approached. And of course, France went on to win the gold medal.
As training camp—let alone, the season—looms, one could logically infer that Parker needs to get some rest.
Parker could play the hero role and reiterate that he never needs rest, but Popovich may simply demand the former NBA Finals MVP take a few early-season games off.
What is Manu Ginobili's Role?
Danny Green has started 118 games over the past two seasons, and Manu Ginobili has been the first guy off the bench. Now, after the signing of Marco Belinelli, the Spurs have three shooting guards on the roster who can each handle plenty of playing time.
Ginobili certainly experienced well over his share of late-season struggles, but the Argentine still has some good basketball left in the tank.
The question is, though, how much should Popovich use Ginobili?
Related: Bleacher Report's Jared Johnson took a shot at answering the question last month.
Green set an NBA Finals record, nailing 27 three-pointers during the seven-game series and, as mentioned earlier, has recently been San Antonio's starting shooting guard. Belinelli can be used in a variety of ways, and he has been improving both offensively and defensively each season, so he needs a good share of minutes.
Ginobili had been the second option as primary ball-handler, but Cory Joseph is slowly moving into that role after the departure of Gary Neal. This is not to say Ginobili is being completely moved out of the lineup, but his role for the 2013-14 is certainly mysterious.
Though the Spurs have no backup small forward on the roster, attempting to use a Joseph/Belinelli/Ginobili backcourt combination is a viable option.
At best, Ginobili could be San Antonio's most versatile player next season, but he could also see his role drop significantly.
Will Tiago Splitter Get More Minutes? Should He?
Tiago Splitter inked a sizable new contract during the offseason—a modest haul of $36 million over four years.
Over his first three years, Splitter has gone from averaging 12.3 minutes per game during 2010-11 to 19.0 and finally 24.7 last season. His overall production has remained generally constant near 15.0 points and 9.5 rebounds per 36 minutes.
Behind Splitter, San Antonio has a few players who fit perfectly in Popovich's system, but as the oft-discussed theme goes, they are aging.
The intent here is not to ram the classic "but he is 37 years old!" insanity down any throats, but it's simply a fact that can be addressed.
Tim Duncan is Tim Duncan, and while both Boris Diaw and Bonner provide valuable minutes off the bench, the Spurs must be careful not to overuse any of the trio.
Bonner is familiar with his shooter-only role as he played just 13.4 minutes per game in 2012-13. Plus, Bonner and Diaw are both entering the final year of their respective contracts, so do the Spurs want to continue slowly giving Splitter more responsibilities as the reserves' time in San Antonio winds down?
At 26 years old, Jeff Ayres (formerly Pendergraph, h/t NBC Sports) is the young gun, but his career-high of 10.4 minutes per game is eyebrow-raising. Ayres was undeniably productive as a member of the Indiana Pacers (14.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per 36) last season, but he managed just 10.0 minutes per contest.
Ultimately, with Splitter's new contract San Antonio's front office showed the organization fully supports him for the long run, and $9 million per year is a pretty penny for the area of 24 minutes per game.
Then again, is it ridiculous to question the judgment of an organization which boasts 14 consecutive 50-win seasons and four championships during that run?
Mysteries. Mysteries everywhere.
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