NBA AM: Without Ginobili, Spurs In Trouble
Spurred by the talents of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker the San Antonio Spurs have been one of the most successful NBA franchises over the past decade, winning titles in 2003, 2005, and 2007.
Unfortunately, their championship window as a trio may have slammed completely shut during Monday’s loss versus the upstart Minnesota Timberwolves.
Ginobili fractured his left shooting hand during the second quarter of the defeat while fouling Anthony Tolliver on a shot attempt. X-rays later revealed a broken fifth metacarpal, located right below his pinkie.
According to team officials, the two-time All-Star will be out indefinitely.
“It’s going to be tough for us because he was playing at an All-Star level,” Parker said after the game. “And now we’re going to have to have everybody pick it up.”
Prior to the injury Ginobili was the primary force in the Spurs’ 3-1 start to the regular season, serving as the team’s leading scorer boasting averages of 19.8 points on 61 percent shooting from the floor.
With the Hall of Fame bound Duncan on the decline and his minutes being monitored by head coach Gregg Popovich in an effort to save his legs for the postseason, the Spurs’ youngsters will need to step up their production – immediately.
In years past the San Antonio would have been better equipped to handle a long term absence of one of their backcourt stars, but on draft night last June the club dealt combo guard George Hill to the Indiana Pacers for the draft rights to small forward Kawhi Leonard (the No. 15 overall pick).
With Ginobili, who has an extensive injury history, playing in 80 regular season games last season the move for Leonard was widely applauded as San Antonio made an effort to add more athleticism on the wing.
Hill is currently averaging a shade below 10 points per game for the Pacers while playing nearly 30 minutes per contest – minutes the Spurs now desperately need.
One of the guys the pressure is on to fill the void during Ginobili’s absence is shooting guard James Anderson.
Anderson, the No. 20 overall pick of the 2010 draft, is averaging 7.2 points on 38 percent shooting from the field so far this season.
Popovich acknowledges the loss of Ginobili is a major blow, but the veteran coach isn’t close to hitting the panic button.
“Manu is pretty important to us and we lost him,” Popovich said. “We’ll just have to deal with it.”
Don’t expect the veteran Spurs to completely fall apart without Ginobili, but if the (shooting hand) injury slowly heals or becomes a nagging ailment it becomes much harder to envision San Antonio as a legitimate championship contender this season and beyond especially with father time looming on the doorstep.
DeMarcus Cousins Denies Trade Request: It hasn’t even been 48 hours but the drama surrounding Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins continues to sizzle.
Kings head coach Paul Westphal excused Cousins from the club’s Sunday night game against the New Orleans Hornets after claiming the second year player had requested a trade from team.
The plot which has followed would be good enough to generate huge ratings on any daily soap opera.
Cousins’ agent went on record vehemently denying his client ever requested a trade from the franchise, while Kings team president Geoff Petrie firmly stated he would not be actively seeking to deal the talented center.
On Monday night Cousins issued the following statement further denying Westphal’s initial trade demand accusation.
“I want to address my missing the New Orleans game Sunday. I have not demanded or requested a trade. I don’t agree with the actions taken but will give my sincere effort to put it behind me and compete the best I can for my team.”
By all accounts Cousins entered training camp in peak physical condition, promising more growth and maturity and clearly primed for a breakout campaign.
However Westphal has openly questioned Cousins’ commitment to the Kings franchise and leadership. In fact the Cousins-Westphal rift was well documented during Cousins’ rookie campaign as well.
For now it appears the Kings’ front office is sticking by Cousins’ side banking on his eventual maturity on and off the court.
But one must now question what the front office decision means for the future of Westphal roaming the sidelines in Sacramento.
Coaches rarely win these squabbles with extremely talented players and for Westphal who has compiled a dismal 51-118 record leading Sacramento this may serve as an early sign he’s the one in this equation living on borrowed time with the franchise.
Pau Gasol Relieved Not To Be In Houston: The condensed offseason period before the start of the season, due to the lockout, was one of the most hectic times ever for league officials, players, media and just about everyone involved with the league.
One of the major early storylines of the period was the three-team trade between the New Orleans Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets.
The deal would have sent All-Star guard Chris Paul to the Lakers and ultimately would have landed forward Pau Gasol with the Rockets in a blockbuster.
The deal was eventually nixed by the league and Gasol remained upbeat heading into Lakers’ training camp even though the club was set to package him away.
The Lakers will play the Rockets on Tuesday night and Gasol expressed some relief the trade proposal didn’t gain the final approval needed from the league.
“It was going to be kind of a rebuilding situation,” Gasol told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times about potentially heading to Houston. “You’d try to be competitive. It wasn’t so much about the franchise or the city. It was just about the situation and how different it would’ve been than from what I’m used to now. That would’ve been very hard for me to adjust to, but if it happened and had gone down, I still would’ve done my best to do what I do and be the player I am and continue to play my best.”
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