Kelley, Witherspoon get camp invites

With training camp set to begin next week, the Spurs have added a couple more more warm bodies to the mix: 6-9 rookie forward Wesley Witherspoon and 6-0 veteran guard Tre Kelley.

Not to go all negative, but with the 15-man roster almost set for this season, they both have about as much chance of making the team as I do. That said, they might catch the team’s eye and earn an apprenticeship in Austin. Indeed, that’s where Kelley played in 2010-11, averaging 9.4 points and 3.4 assists in 11 games.

Among other spots, the former South Carolina standout also had a one-week stop with Miami in 2008 and a brief training camp stint with Memphis in 2010.

Witherspoon went undrafted after averaging 7.2 points and 3.7 rebounds last season at Memphis. It was his second straight season of regression after being pegged as a potential first-round pick following a breakout sophomore campaign (12.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 43 3-point %).

Weakside defensive rotation: .

Shootaround notes: Joseph finally on the job

HOUSTON — Nobody was happier to be on the  Toyota Center court for this morning’s shootaround than Spurs rookie Cory Joseph.

After missing the first eight days of his first NBA training camp while clearing up immigration issues with his native Canada, the former Texas point guard was finally able to slip on some workout gear for his first practice as a professional.

He might even play tonight, when the Spurs open the preseason against the Rockets.

“You get anxious to get out there on the court and start playing,” said Joseph, the 29th pick in the June draft. “I’m happy it’s over and I’m on the court again.”

Joseph, 20, filed paperwork to receive a work visa as soon as the lockout officially ended Dec. 9. It took a little more than a week for his request to be processed by Canada’s Citizen and Immigration department.

“It was just slow,” Joseph said. “I couldn’t tell you why. I guess it was just taking a little bit longer than we  thought.”

On Thursday, Joseph flew to Toronto to pick up the visa. He met the Spurs in Houston on Friday afternoon, at long last signed his rookie-scale contract, and was on the floor at the Toyota Center this morning.

Joseph is expected to be in uniform for tonight’s game. With Tony Parker not on the trip, the rookie could be in line to see some minutes backing up T.J. Ford at the point.

“I’m excited,” Joseph said. “This is what every kid waits for.”

Some, it seems, just wait longer than others.

Other bullets from this morning’s shoot:

* , Parker and fellow All-Star Tim Duncan are at home in San Antonio and will skip tonight’s game. Between Les Bleus and ASVEL Villeurbanne, Parker has been playing more or less non-stop since late August. Duncan, apparently, is just old.

* Rockets forward Luis Scola and Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, teammates on the Argentine national team, met for dinner in Houston on Friday night. Spurs center Tiago Splitter, Scola’s old Spanish League compadre, joined them. “We broke a rule and invited a Brazilian,” Scola joked.

* Speaking of Splitter, Scola says Spurs fans didn’t get a chance to see every tool in the Brazilian’s arsenal during a forgettable rookie season. “He’s got great post moves,” Scola said. “He’s great around the basket.”

* Rendered jobless by the lockout, Joseph said he split workout time between his old college campus in Austin and Houston, where he worked out with former NBA point guard — and former Spurs coach — John Lucas.

At UT, Joseph’s workout partners included a bevy of former Longhorns such as Kevin Durant, Tristan Thompson and T.J. Ford, who would soon become his teammate with the Spurs. Joseph said he gained the most out of his sessions with Lucas.

“He was a great point guard back in the day,” Joseph said. “He taught me a lot – coming off the screens, decision-making, a whole bunch. Just the pace of the NBA game, as a point guard.”

Ford excited for his Texas return

Houston-area native and former Texas player T.J. Ford couldn’t be happier about his return to the area of his college success.

Ford said he had other opportunities, but was more excited about the opportunity to have a homecoming of sorts by joining the Spurs.

“In the eight years of my career I’ve been in the midwest, the east coast … far from home,” said Ford, who attended Sugarland Willowridge before spending two seasons with the Longhorns. “I have a lot of family and friends between Houston and Austin, so there’s a lot of opportunity for them to come see me play. Just to feel the love and the atmosphere, it feels good.”

Those good feelings and the opportunity for playing time with the Spurs were the biggest reasons he chose San Antonio.

“I think they wanted me. That was the big thing for me,” Ford said. “ I just felt it was the right fit from the time I got that first phone call. I didn’t think about any other team.

“I had other offers, but I don’t think I could have gotten a better situation than being in San Antonio.”

And the opportunity for playing time in place of the traded George Hill also had to factor into the decision.

The Spurs have had only one former Longhorn on their roster in their previous history. Johnny Moore played all but one game in his 520-game NBA career with the Spurs from 1980-90.

The team will have two former UT players this year in Ford and rookie guard Cory Joseph, the team’s first-round draft pick this season.