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News » They don't look like the same old Spurs

They don't look like the same old Spurs

They don't look like the same old Spurs In one corner of the Spurs practice facility, two players reunited with an exchange of handshakes and man hugs. Elsewhere, another Spur treated reporters to a verbal rendition of a "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" essay.

In another enclave, others lined up for the requisite first-of-the-year photos.

Media day for any NBA team can often feel a bit like the first day of school. For members of the Spurs , Monday felt a bit like the first day at a new school.

"Lots of new faces," noted coach Gregg Popovich.

Five months ago, the Spurs broke for the summer in the wake of an unceremonious first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks. On Monday, they reconvened on the eve of the first practice of 2009-10 to discover nearly half the roster made over.

Gone were notables Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto, Jacque Vaughn - quintessential Spurs who had combined for six championship rings - as well as veteran forward Kurt Thomas.

Instead, the remaining Spurs were left to make friends with, among others, a pair of former Bucks (Richard Jefferson and Keith Bogans), a former Piston (Antonio McDyess), a former Philadelphia 76er (Theo Ratliff) and a former Pittsburgh Panther (DeJuan Blair).

All of them were acquired this offseason, part of a multimillion-dollar roster overhaul general manager R.C. Buford orchestrated to help keep the Spurs among the NBA's elite through the remaining years of the Tim Duncan era.

"We're very excited, very curious to see what we've got," said point guard Tony Parker, who was outspoken after the Dallas series about the need to upgrade the team's role players. "We've been playing with the same team for a lot of years. It's nice to have new blood."

The most notable infusion comes in the form of Jefferson and McDyess, potential starters at small forward and center, respectively. The former was acquired in a trade that sent Bowen, Oberto and Thomas to Milwaukee, while the latter arrived via free agency after five seasons in Detroit.

By the time the regular-season roster is set, the Spurs are likely to boast as many as seven new faces. "Younger" and "more athletic" are the buzzwords du jour.

"I just think it's a different time in the organization's growth," Popovich said. "Sometimes, we've only needed pieces going into the summertime. We needed something different this summer."

Duncan agreed.

"We got knocked out in the first round, and that's not where you want to be," Duncan said. "Some things had to change."

Buford and team owner Peter Holt, who signed off on a plan that pushed the team's payroll into luxury tax territory, have done their part.

The rest is up to Popovich, and to the players themselves. The longest Spurs offseason in recent memory is over. Now, the real work begins.

"It's on paper, we have to put it on the floor," Duncan said. "We've got to get the guys together, we've got to get everybody on the same page, and we have to be healthy at the right time.

"If we can put all those things together, I see no reason why we shouldn't be excited about it."

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: September 30, 2009


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