Red tape cleared, Joseph practices

By Jeff McDonald

HOUSTON — Cory Joseph was the last Spurs player to come off the floor at shootaround Saturday morning at the Toyota Center, bounding toward the bus with the same grin that had been perma-pressed to his face for much of the hourlong workout.

“This is what every kid waits for,” the rookie point guard said.

Some just wait longer than others.

Having missed the first eight days of his inaugural NBA training camp while dealing with immigration issues from his native Canada, Joseph was the happiest player at shoot-?around before the preseason opener against the Rockets.

At long last, Joseph was able to slip on some workout gear and experience his first professional practice.

Later that night, with all of 60 minutes of practice under his belt, Joseph logged 19:17 of playing time in the Spurs’ 101-87 loss, scoring four points on 2-for-7 shooting to go with two assists and no turnovers.

The 29th overall pick from Texas, Joseph had been in San Antonio since the start of camp while waiting to obtain a work visa. He was able to watch practices but unable to participate.

“You get anxious to get out there on the court and start playing,” said Joseph, 20.

Joseph filed his request for a work visa when the NBA lockout ended Dec. 9. It took more than a week to process.

He flew to Toronto on Thursday to pick up his visa, then met the Spurs in Houston on Friday afternoon, where he signed his rookie-scale contract.

“It was a long wait,” Joseph said. “I’m happy it’s over with and I’m back on the court again.”

REST ALREADY: For Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, the preseason debut will have to wait.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich opted to leave two-thirds of the team’s “Big Three” in San Antonio for Saturday’s game.

Parker has been playing more or less nonstop since August, first with the French national team then with ASVEL Villeurbanne, and is already in game shape. He is also dealing with some back soreness.

Duncan, meanwhile, is 35 and more useful to the Spurs in the regular season than preseason, Popovich said.

“The way the schedule is going to be, I don’t see any reason to be running Timmy too much in the preseason,” Popovich said.

MOVING ON: Rockets forward Luis Scola claims to be over the trade-that-wasn’t that would have sent him and guard Kevin Martin to New Orleans.

The pair remained in Houston after the NBA scuttled the original deal that would have sent Hornets point guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers.

“There’s nothing you can do about it,” Scola said after Saturday morning’s shootaround. “I might as well forget about it and start to play.”

Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said he had little doubt his friend and teammate on the Argentine national team will have no trouble putting hard feelings behind him.

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