Joseph expected to meet Spurs in Houston

By Mike Monroe

When the Spurs arrive in Houston late Friday afternoon on their first road trip of the 2011-12 NBA preseason, they expect to be joined by their newest official teammate, Cory Joseph.

Having missed all of training camp to date while clearing immigration issues, Joseph traveled Thursday from San Antonio to his native Toronto to pick up a work visa. His return flight to the U.S. was booked to land in Houston, where he was to meet the rest of the Spurs in advance of Saturday’s preseason opener against the Rockets.

Joseph, the former Texas point guard the Spurs took 29th in the June draft, was unable to begin the process for obtaining his work visa until the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement was ratified Dec. 8. He has been in San Antonio awaiting a resolution since camp began last Friday.

Barring a last-minute snag, Joseph’s first official Spurs practice would be at shootaround in Houston on Saturday morning. He would need to sign his rookie-scale contract before taking the court.

NOVAK BACK: Forward Steve Novak, who played 23 games with the Spurs last season, was back at the practice site Thursday awaiting formal approval of a contract. He wasn’t able to practice until the contract was signed, which occurred later in the day. He will be with the traveling party for the trip to Houston.

A 6-foot-10 sharpshooter from Marquette, Novak has played parts of four seasons in the NBA for the Rockets, Clippers, Mavericks and Spurs. He came to the Spurs on a 10-day contract on Feb. 8, was re-signed to a second 10-day deal on Feb. 18 and then signed for the remainder of the season. He averaged 4.0 points per game and made 23 of 42 3-point shots.

SPECIAL CAMARADERIE: Antoine Hood, the 6-foot-4 guard added to the training camp roster on Tuesday, hopes to follow a path to the NBA similar to that of his head coach.

Like Gregg Popovich, Hood graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and served five years in the Air Force before looking to make basketball a career.

Popovich acknowledges the bond all Academy graduates feel for one another.

“Whenever you see an Academy grad, you feel a special camaraderie with him or her,” he said. “It doesn’t matter which Academy it is, because everybody respects what each other went through. He’s done his service and he wanted an opportunity to come out and display his talents, so it’s fun for me to bring him out here and let him go.”

Hood was part of an Air Force Academy team that made it to the NCAA tournament in 2006 under the guidance of former Nuggets head coach Jeff Bzdelik.

During his senior season at Air Force, Hood said Popovich’s career provided motivation that he might someday get a shot at playing in the NBA.

“Coach Popovich is the epitome of what the Air Force Academy stands for,” Hood told the Express-News in a 2005 interview. “And it’s something to look forward to. Knowing that Gregg Popovich wound up in the NBA, maybe I could do that some day.”

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