Spurs notebook: Dad-to-be McDyess glad to be retired

By Mike Monroe

HOUSTON — Admitting it felt strange to be sitting in the stands 10 rows behind the Spurs bench, and even weirder seeing Tim Duncan sitting out the second half of the third game of the season because the Spurs were being blown out by the Rockets, Antonio McDyess put to rest any thoughts that he might elect to come out of retirement at any time this season.

“Uh-uh,” he said, flashing his characteristic smile. “A lot of people have been asking, but it’s not happening.”

McDyess and his wife are expecting their first child in a few days and he said he is comfortable with his decision to leave the NBA after 16 seasons, the last two with the Spurs.

The former All-Star and Olympic gold medal winner paid a short visit to the Spurs locker room after the Rockets’ 105-85 drubbing, to the delight of coach Gregg Popovich.

“The best part of this whole night was seeing Antonio,” Popovich said.

ANXIOUSLY WAITING: Second-year shooting guard Gary Neal is looking forward to the Spurs’ next practice session, whenever that may be.

Cleared to begin contact work after undergoing an appendectomy on Dec. 12, Neal has been working hard on conditioning this week but understands he needs a practice or two before he can expect to get in a game for the first time this season.

“He’s working out with Sean Marks back in San Antonio,” Popovich said. “We won’t practice tomorrow, but he’ll do something.

“He’s got to have contact before we get him into a game. It might be a month-and-a-half before we have a chance to practice again, but we can get some of the rookies in there with him so he can get some contact. I expect he’ll be back in another week, or so.”

RATINGS MONSTERS: After drawing more viewers for their regular season opener against the Grizzlies than ESPN’s Monday Night Football game that featured Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ quest for a single-season passing record, the Spurs continued their domination of local prime-time TV for their Wednesday night game against the Clippers.

That game posted an 11.1 overnight Nielsen rating, more than doubling the ratings for the University of Texas-Cal Holiday Bowl game, which came in at 5.1.

DOMINANT THIRDS END: The Spurs went into Thursday’s game against the Rockets having outscored their first two opponents 67-31 in the third quarter.

The trend ended against the Rockets, who outscored the Spurs 25-24 in the third.

Spurs 9th in PBT’s first NBA power rankings

It’s never too early to start looking at power ratings — particularly with the season starting on Sunday.

Pro Basketball Talk’s weekly power ratings always are a must read.  It’s obvious they put a lot of thought into their weekly rankings of the NBA.

Kurt Helin starts the season with the Mavericks first in the league. I think the loss of Tyson Chandler will hurt them more than most and would be hesistant to place them at the top of my list. I might opt for Miami — despite the Heat’s NBA Finals loss to the Mavericks.

Helin tabs the . Here’s what he has to say about the Silver and Black:

“9. Spurs (61-21). They were the best team in the West last regular season, but they didn’t have the size up front to stop a team with a big front line in the playoffs. A team like Memphis. That hasn’t changed.”

Helin is right. The Spurs are depleted inside, particularly if Antonio McDyess makes good on his retirement threat and the Spurs don’t add another veteran player to replace him.

It’s a little much to expect Tiago Splitter to be able to make up for McDyess’ loss by himself. So the rationale having the Spurs in the bottom part of the top 10 probably is about right.

Spurs make it official: No McDyess

The Spurs had until the end of business Monday to guarantee the other half of veteran big man Antonio McDyess’ $5.2 million contract, but they won’t drag the process to the end of the day.

The teams acknowledged that McDyess won’t be back, and the club will get to remove $2.6 million, the non=guaranteed portion of his contract, off its player payroll for the 2011-12 season.

McDyess, a former All-Star and an Olympic gold medal winner i n 2000,  started all six playoff games last season.  After the Game 6 loss in Memphis that ended the playoff run of the No. 1 seeded team in the Western Conference he made it clear to the Express-News  that he intended to retire after 16 seasons.

“This was not at all how I wanted it to end, but signing here was one of the best things I did in my career,” he said then. “I wouldn’t trade these two years for the world, one of the greatest times of my whole career. I just wish we would have gone farther.”

The Spurs had hoped the shortened post-lockout season might enable them to talk McDyess into playing the final season on his contract, but officially gave up the quest on Monday afternoon.