No Duncan, No Parker: Yup, it’s preseason

For Spurs players who spent the better part of six months locked out by the NBA, not to mention fans suffering through basketball withdrawal, tonight’s preseason opener in Houston is sure to feel like more than a run-of-the-mill exhibition.

For coach Gregg Popovich, however, it’s just another preseason game. So much so that Tim Duncan and Tony Parker aren’t even on the trip.

The Spurs’ charter plane left San Antonio on Friday afternoon leaving the All-Star twosome behind because, hey, it’s preseason and Popovich has other plans.

“It will be a practice, where we work on things we want to get across and try to get some guys minutes,” Popovich said. “There are a couple of evaluation things to do, but hopefully another step in getting them ready to play a game.”

Duncan and Parker, the two longest-tenured members of the Spurs’ roster, apparently don’t require much evaluation. We can also assume that Manu Ginobili will play Saturday, but only while encased in bubble wrap.

One player who could see some action with Parker back home is rookie Cory Joseph.

The former Texas standout, selected 29th in the June draft, has missed every training camp practice so far while clearing up immigration red tape in his native Canada.

Work visa in hand, Joseph joined the team in Houston on Friday afternoon and is expected to be uniform Saturday night at the Toyota Center.

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