Lot to keep an eye on as Spurs’ camp nears

By Mike Monroe

There are plenty of questions as the Spurs open training camp at their practice facility next week, but one big decision must be made before camp begins: Will the team insist that point guard Tony Parker continue wearing the protective goggles he sported during the Olympics in London?

Parker didn’t like the protective eyewear, but it was necessary after a freak injury that required surgery to remove a shard of glass from his left cornea. He pitched the goggles into the stands after Spain eliminated France from the medal round, declaring he was done with them for good.

When he arrives for his physical exam ahead of Tuesday’s start of camp, he may discover the club’s well-established history of erring on the side of caution with injuries demands he be fitted for new goggles.

“I’m not sure that’s a decision ‘Dr. Parker’ gets to make on his own,” Spurs general manager R.C. Buford said. “We haven’t seen him yet. We’re now several months, post-injury. We’ll have a better picture of it when we see him. Somebody very qualified will examine that eye.”

The All-NBA second-team selection, and the Spurs’ top scorer and assist man last season, suffered the injury June 15. He was a bystander during a bottle-throwing incident involving musicians Chris Brown and Drake at a New York nightclub.

Parker was one of six Spurs who competed in the Olympics during part of the summer Buford declared “very productive” for the team’s core, in large part because everyone made it through competition healthy.

Parker played on the French national team with big man Boris Diaw and rookie combo guard Nando De Colo.

Veteran guard Manu Ginobili led Argentina to the bronze-medal game. Center Tiago Splitter helped Brazil qualify for the medal round. Guard Patrick Mills was one of the tournament’s top scorers in guiding Australia into the medal round.

“I think it was a good summer in a lot of different areas” Buford said. “Starting off with Kawhi (Leonard) and DeJuan (Blair) playing on the (USA Basketball) select team. Both of them had a very good showing and represented themselves well. Kawhi’s turn in the summer league, while short, was really impressive. Cory Joseph also had a good run through that.

“Obviously, we had a big crew of guys at the Olympics and they all played relatively well. After the Olympics concluded we had a really good month of open gym with a lot of our young guys.

“Of course, Tim (Duncan) was in there long before the open gym started. I just think the professionalism with which our group approaches the season is fun to see.”

Well aware that Blair believed the Spurs would trade him after he fell out of the playing rotation during the playoffs, Buford empathized with the fourth-year forward’s situation.

“We understand the way he feels,” he said. “If we were in his shoes we may feel similar. Having said that, DeJuan helped us win a lot of games and we have not had anything presented to us that puts our team in a better position than moving forward with DeJuan.”

Twitter: @Monroe_SA

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