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San Antonio Spurs news gathered from around the net.

Popovich Impressed By Kawhi Leonard's Basketball IQ

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said it’s still way too early to make any assessment of rookie Kawhi Leonard’s role on the team.

“It’s only been one game, but there’s more there than I expected, as a general statement,” Popovich said. “Both basketball IQ-wise and skill-wise, there’s more than I expected.

“He only played two years in college so you figure he’s got a lot to learn, but he does that pretty darn quickly.”

Leonard was the first player off the Spurs bench Wednesday night against the Clippers, replacing Richard Jefferson barely 5 minutes into the game.

Via Tim Griffin/San Antonio Express-News

Spurs Waive Frank Hassell, Luke Zeller

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have waived forward Frank Hassell and center Luke Zeller.

Hassell appeared in two preseason games, averaging 2.0 points and 1.5 rebounds in 10.0 minutes.

Zeller saw four minutes of action vs. Houston on Dec. 21 handing out two assists.

The roster now stands at 13.

Via NBA.com

Duncan Worried About Spurs' Depth

The Spurs’ schedule includes 17 back-to-back games, a fact that concerns Tim Duncan about his team’s depth.

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

Coach Gregg Popovich has traditionally opted to rest Duncan on the back end of most back-to-back games in recent seasons.

“We’ll have to figure out who’s going to be out there and who can give us some help, game in and game out, because it’s going to be a lot of games in a lot of days and that depth is really going to make a difference,” Duncan said.

Via Tim Griffin/San Antonio Express-News

Ginobili Finding Rhythm After Summer Hiatus

Unlike All-Star teammate Tony Parker, who played more or less nonstop in Europe from late August through the end of the NBA lockout, Manu Ginobili took a three-month hiatus from organized basketball.

“I’m not exhausted, I’m just out of basketball shape,” Ginobili said. “When I want to do a step-back, I’m out of rhythm. I still need to fine-tune it.”

At home in Argentina, he lifted and ran, and occasionally worked out with Weber Estudiantes, one of that country’s top professional teams. He did not play competitively, however, after the final horn at the Tournament of the Americas.

“Hopefully, in the long-term (the break) helps,” Ginobili said. “Short-term, of course, it doesn’t.”

Via Jeff McDonald/San Antonio Express-News

Spurs Officially Waive McDyess

The Spurs officially waived Antonio McDyess on Monday.

The club removed $2.6 million, the non-guaranteed portion of his contract, off its player payroll for the 11-12 season.

San Antonio had hoped McDyess would reconsider his decision to retire.

Via Express-News

Spurs Still Searching For Center To Play Alongside Duncan

The Spurs need a big man to play next to Tim Duncan.

“We probably could use another big in the rotation,” Popovich said. “But I don’t want to put someone there just to have a body there.”

The roll call of available free-agent centers who might fit the Spurs’ price range doesn’t exactly have the front office fumbling for its checkbook. As luxury tax payers, the most the Spurs can offer is a deal starting at $3 million.

That list, highlighted by the likes of Utah’s Kyrylo Fesenko and Toronto’s Alexis Ajinca, “won’t keep you up reading at night, like a good book,” Popovich said.

“I want that person to at least be able to help us when we put him in the game, instead of just take up minutes.”

Via San Antonio Express-News

Jefferson Will Likely Remain On Spurs Roster

Gregg Popovich didn’t quite come out and say the Spurs would not use amnesty on Jefferson this season, but it sure sounded like the team is planning on opening the season with him in the fold.

“Each year, he’s understood the system more and done a better job,” Popovich said of Jefferson. “I think he wants to come back and have an even better year than he did last year. I think he was fifth in the league in shooting his 3s, and he got better defensively. I think he’ll move forward from there.

“It’s kind of interesting, everybody’s always asking about amnesty, and I’m always wondering, ‘Why Richard?’ As if we didn’t advance in the playoffs because of Richard.”

Jefferson’s scoring average dipped from 12.3 points to 11 last season, but he was much more efficient in his second year with the Spurs than his first.

Via Jeff McDonald/San Antonio Express-News

Popovich: Kawhi Leonard More Explosive Than Previously Thought

Obtained in a draft-night trade that sent popular guard George Hill to Indiana, Kawhi Leonard — taken 15th overall — arrives as the Spurs’ highest-drafted rookie since Tim Duncan went No. 1 in 1997.

Though coach Gregg Popovich has sought to tamp down expectations for Leonard, the Spurs clearly did not part with a key rotation piece like Hill to bring in a player they did not think could contribute soon.

“Kawhi is what we expected, in that we knew he was a hard worker; that he was a committed player; that he responded well defensively, and rebounding-wise,” Popovich said. “Already he’s a little more explosive than we expected — the stops and starts, that sort of thing.”

Via Jeff McDonald/San Antonio Express-News

Spurs Still In Discussions With Josh Howard

The Spurs remain in the hunt for Washington's Josh Howard, 31, who is still weighing interest from Chicago, New Jersey, Washington, Utah and Denver, according to a member of his camp, but hopes to decide early next week.

“San Antonio is still very much in the discussions with Josh and his agent (Derek Lafayette),” said Howard's publicist, Crystal Howard (no relation). “A decision has not been made yet, but he's certainly considering San Antonio as his new home.”

The Spurs would prefer a resolution sooner rather than later. They have until Dec. 16 to waive Jefferson if they plan to use amnesty on him this season, but are unlikely to do so unless a suitable replacement is found.

Via Jeff McDonald/San Antonio Express News

Jefferson Attends Spurs Practice Amid Amnesty Rumors

Richard Jefferson practiced Friday, the first day of Spurs training camp, despite speculation that the team was planning to use the amnesty provision on his contract.

“I’m a Spur right now,” Jefferson said after practice. “That’s pretty much the best way to describe it. There’s a lot of speculation across the league, with the short amount a time everybody has to work their rosters.”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said the team has not employed the amnesty provision on Jefferson or anybody else.

“He’s no different than anybody. He’s a Spur,” Popovich said. “We didn’t amnesty anybody.”

Via San Antonio Express-News

San Antonio Spurs Archives

T.J. Ford Close To League Minimum Deal With Spurs

T.J. Ford will serve as Tony Parker’s backup in San Antonio.

Butler Narrows List Of Suitors To Spurs, Bulls, Nets, Clippers

Prized free agent Caron Butler has narrowed his list of teams to four.

Spurs Will Use Amnesty Clause To Waive Jefferson

Richard Jefferson has $30.5 million remaining on his deal with the Spurs.

Spurs, Pistons Monitor Kaman Situation

The Clippers could elect to move Chris Kaman if they re-sign DeAndre Jordan.

Butler Has Meetings Set With Clippers, Spurs, Nets, Pistons

Caron Butler has four meeting set as he explores his options in free agency.

Spurs Covet Caron Butler

The Spurs' intentions are to sign unrestricted free agent Caron Butler to a contract, according to a source.

Popovich: Nothing To Learn From Previous Lockout Shortened Season

The previous lockout shortened season is of no value in Gregg Popovich’s preparation.

Butler Receives Interest From Nets, Clippers, Heat, Spurs, Knicks

Caron Butler is recovering from a knee injury that ended his season.
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