Tiago Splitter admits that he was disappointed when he was traded to the Hawks in a move designed to clear salary cap room, writes Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders. The Spurs needed the cap space the trade provided to sign LaMarcus Aldridge, whom Splitter believes makes San Antonio the team to beat in the West, Greene adds. “It’s a great squad,” Splitter said of his former team. “On paper they are the favorites to win the title. They have David West. They have LaMarcus Aldridge. Of course, Tim Duncan. Just a great frontcourt over there. They are a very talented team. Of course you have to see how things work out for them on the practical side of the game, but on the interior they have a great team.”
The big man said that his attitude regarding being dealt changed when he realized he’d be playing for coach Mike Budenholzer, a former assistant with the Spurs, Greene adds. “It’s nice to be in an environment where you already know the coach,” Splitter said. “I didn’t know the players before I got here but as soon as I got traded Bud told me that I was going to be in a great situation with great teammates. He gave me a lot of confidence that this team is going to be great once again. I don’t think a [learning curve] is going to be a problem. When I’ve talked to Bud so far I’ve seen that he has his own tricks and personality in the system, but it’s the same system we ran in San Antonio.”
Here’s the latest out of the Southeast Division:
- With the Wizards expected to utilize smaller lineups this season, Gary Neal‘s three-point shooting skills should play a big part in the team’s new offense, J. Michael of CSNMid-Atlantic writes. “The way the NBA is changing and evolving right now, how everybody is going to the four out, one in, the ball movement, not holding the ball, getting away from the isolation play, coach [Randy] Wittman is trying to teach that,” Neal said. “That offense is kind of new to him also. He went to a little bit of that against the Hawks in the playoffs and by playing Paul Pierce at the four he kind of liked that. So he was thinking about that throughout the whole summer. He’s teaching it to us. It’s new to us. Everybody’s learning. We should be alright.“
- Nicolas Batum will take on a much greater role with the Hornets than he had during his time in Portland, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. “Nic has always been third or fourth option,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “Now he’s going to be second or first option.”
- Heat forward James Ennis said that the tendinitis that he was experiencing in his knees led to his poor showing in summer league play this year, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes. “I was down on myself because I expected more from me,” Ennis told Jackson. “I’m really hard on myself. But I looked at it and said, ‘You’re injured.’ I was playing at 65%. I did a lot of treatment. My knee is a lot better. You’ll see it in the preseason.” Ennis, who has a non-guaranteed salary, is fighting for a regular season roster spot.