Curry or Brown — fortunately for the Spurs, it doesn’t really matter

Before we get started, let’s get something straight.

The Spurs’ season is not going to hinge on who they choose to fill their 15th roster spot. (If they choose anyone at all.)

In fact, this sort of decision doesn’t usually matter even on bad teams, let alone one that goes two-deep at pretty much every position, and is hoping to contend for the championship.

The only reason it’s become one of the main story lines of training camp is because, well, there hasn’t been much else to talk about with a veteran team that remains almost untouched from last season, when the Spurs took a 2-0 lead before crumbling against Oklahoma City in the Western Conference Finals.

That said, on to the battle that head coach Gregg Popovich has whittled down to two players with completely different backgrounds: Eddy Curry, the lottery bust battling to rebuild his once promising career, and Derrick Brown, a second-round journeyman just trying to get his career started.

Their playing styles and utility are equally disparate.

Curry, a classic back-to-the-basket center, still has a gift for putting the ball in the hole, as evidenced by his 68-percent shooting mark in the preseason. His aptitude at pretty much everything else that can be done on a basketball court ranges from adequate to non-existent.

An undersized tweener with a small forward’s body and a power forward’s mentality, the 6-7 Brown offers youth, athleticism and versatility. His 14-minute stint in Sunday’s loss against Orlando, during which he drilled a 3-pointer and a 20-footer, showed he might have even figured out how to hit a jump shot, in which case his value would soar.

If so, it still wouldn’t give him a single skill as discernible as Curry’s scoring ability. Which is probably why Curry dominated a recent Express-News poll about who the Spurs should take for their last roster spot. (He earned 976 votes to just 78 for Brown.)

Neither fills a glaring hole for the Spurs.

It would be one thing if Curry could help slow down the Lakers’ Dwight Howard and/or Pau Gasol. Defense and rebounding, however, have never been his forte. And while it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have another scoring option, it’s not like the Spurs struggled last season without him, leading the league in offensive efficiency and effective field-goal shooting.

It’s even tougher to see where Brown would fit in light of the abundance of bodies at his positions – Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner and DeJuan Blair at power forward, and Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson at small forward. He has more room for growth – but not enough to avoid being let go by lowly Charlotte on two different occasions. (Although judging by the Bobcats’ track record, that might actually be a positive.)

Force me to choose, and I’d probably go with Curry. In addition to giving the Spurs another big body, it would be a hell of a story if he was able to pull himself back from the brink as a contributor with the NBA’s model franchise.

Fortunately for the Spurs, they’re in the position where picking whoever gets to sit on the end of their bench isn’t going to make much of an impact on their season.

Twitter: @danmccarneySAEN

The Spurs Prospectus podcast, Episode 2

Our boss liked the first episode, so you’re stuck with us — blogger Dan McCarney, beat writer Jeff McDonald and NBA columnist Mike Monroe — for the rest of the season. We chat about Nando “Mini Manu” De Colo, DeJuan Blair and the all-important battle for the 15th roster spot in our latest outing. Enjoy.


Spurs notebook: Ginobili feels for newcomers

Manu Ginobili can rest assured that, for the 11th season in a row, he’s going to make the Spurs’ roster.

Still, the two-time All-Star can’t help but sympathize with the handful of hopefuls who will not.

“You know a few of them are going to be cut, because we can’t have more than 15. It’s probably the worst part of the year, to see guys going through that. We just try to help everybody, and then it’s Pop’s decision,” Ginobili said of coach Gregg Popovich.

With a regular roster set at 14, the Spurs have room for only one more addition. The candidates for the job — center Eddy Curry, forwards Derrick Brown and Josh Powell and wing Wesley Witherspoon — all have had their moments during the preseason.

Witherspoon, an undrafted rookie from Memphis, led the Spurs with 17 points in Sunday’s win at Houston. Curry chipped in 10 points, making all five of his field goals.

“You see how hard they are working,” Ginobili said. “They’re doing their best to win that spot. They’re good guys doing a good job, so it’s going to be hard.”

Competition helps all: Regardless of how the competition for the final roster spot plays out, each of the Spurs’ big men figures to be much improved by the time the regular season begins because of the intense competition taking place.

DeJuan Blair, the three-year veteran who is in the final year of his contract, likes the various skills the newcomers bring to the practice battles.

“They’re doing excellent, developing every day,” Blair said. “Eddy is a big body, and Josh is more of a skill four-five, a great addition to the camp. I enjoy him there and also enjoy Ed being there.

“We all enjoy each other, and we all get along with each other. We want to help each other get better. It’s great having that daily competition. Ed is huge, and Josh is more of a guardable big you have to guard with your feet.

“It’s really good for Tim (Duncan) and me and the others to work out with them and bond with them a little bit.”

Relax, it’s an off day: With five days between preseason games and with Duncan having missed Monday’s practice with an illness, Popovich opted for a day of rest Tuesday.

Twitter: @JMcDonald_SAEN

Staff writer Mike Monroe contributed to this report.