Devonte’ Graham dropped 15 games and seven spots in the standings by virtue of the deadline-day deal that sent him from New Orleans to San Antonio, but the Spurs guard intends to make the most of his new situation, telling reporters after the trade that he has no problem playing for a rebuilding team.
“Rebuilding, but they play hard,” Graham said of the Spurs, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “I had the same experience in Charlotte, so I kind of know what this feels like, trying to rebuild but just playing the right way, playing hard and continuing to try to get better.”
After seeing his minutes reduced significantly in New Orleans this season, Graham is also welcoming the opportunity to play a more significant role in San Antonio. He averaged 15.3 minutes per game in 53 appearances for the Pelicans — that number has jumped to 29.7 MPG in his first three games with the Spurs.
“It’s a new adventure, new team, new city,” Graham said. “Optimistic about it. I have always been good at adjusting. Grateful to be around this franchise, a legendary coach (Gregg Popovich) and this young group.”
Here’s more on the Spurs:
- Veteran center Khem Birch, acquired from Toronto in the Jakob Poeltl trade, has a right knee issue that will keep him sidelined for the foreseeable future, per Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Birch is with the Spurs on their current road trip, but won’t practice or play until being examined over the All-Star break by the team’s medical staff. “It’s going to be quite a while,” Popovich said of Birch’s timeline to return.
- Spurs forward Jeremy Sochan doesn’t fit the mold of stoic former Spurs stars like Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard, but the team doesn’t mind the rookie’s tendency to “talk crap,” as Popovich puts it. “He’s just so happy to be in the NBA and playing basketball,” Popovich said, according to McDonald. “That’s what he does. It’s his main interest. … Beyond what you see skill-wise out there and IQ-wise, he’s got that heart and courage. He’s not afraid of any situation. He’s not embarrassed to screw up. He just goes on to the next play. It’s a perfect example for how you’ve got to play.”
- Determining how to properly evaluate prospects coming out of the relatively new Overtime Elite program remains a work in progress for NBA scouts. Still, Spurs two-way player Dominick Barlow has no regrets about his OTE experience and believes it helped prepare him for the next level, McDonald writes for The Express-News. “There are pros and cons, like you are not going to be able to play in college and get that kind of experience,” Barlow said. “That wasn’t a big thing for me. I really wanted to work on my game, that the jump I was able to make in a year was good enough to outweigh that (college experience). I was happy with it.”
- In case you missed it, Charles Bassey signed a four-year contract with the Spurs that reportedly includes $5.2MM in guaranteed money.