HOUSTON — Nobody was happier to be on the Toyota Center court for this morning’s shootaround than Spurs rookie Cory Joseph.
After missing the first eight days of his first NBA training camp while clearing up immigration issues with his native Canada, the former Texas point guard was finally able to slip on some workout gear for his first practice as a professional.
He might even play tonight, when the Spurs open the preseason against the Rockets.
“You get anxious to get out there on the court and start playing,” said Joseph, the 29th pick in the June draft. “I’m happy it’s over and I’m on the court again.”
Joseph, 20, filed paperwork to receive a work visa as soon as the lockout officially ended Dec. 9. It took a little more than a week for his request to be processed by Canada’s Citizen and Immigration department.
“It was just slow,” Joseph said. “I couldn’t tell you why. I guess it was just taking a little bit longer than we thought.”
On Thursday, Joseph flew to Toronto to pick up the visa. He met the Spurs in Houston on Friday afternoon, at long last signed his rookie-scale contract, and was on the floor at the Toyota Center this morning.
Joseph is expected to be in uniform for tonight’s game. With Tony Parker not on the trip, the rookie could be in line to see some minutes backing up T.J. Ford at the point.
“I’m excited,” Joseph said. “This is what every kid waits for.”
Some, it seems, just wait longer than others.
Other bullets from this morning’s shoot:
* , Parker and fellow All-Star Tim Duncan are at home in San Antonio and will skip tonight’s game. Between Les Bleus and ASVEL Villeurbanne, Parker has been playing more or less non-stop since late August. Duncan, apparently, is just old.
* Rockets forward Luis Scola and Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, teammates on the Argentine national team, met for dinner in Houston on Friday night. Spurs center Tiago Splitter, Scola’s old Spanish League compadre, joined them. “We broke a rule and invited a Brazilian,” Scola joked.
* Speaking of Splitter, Scola says Spurs fans didn’t get a chance to see every tool in the Brazilian’s arsenal during a forgettable rookie season. “He’s got great post moves,” Scola said. “He’s great around the basket.”
* Rendered jobless by the lockout, Joseph said he split workout time between his old college campus in Austin and Houston, where he worked out with former NBA point guard — and former Spurs coach — John Lucas.
At UT, Joseph’s workout partners included a bevy of former Longhorns such as Kevin Durant, Tristan Thompson and T.J. Ford, who would soon become his teammate with the Spurs. Joseph said he gained the most out of his sessions with Lucas.
“He was a great point guard back in the day,” Joseph said. “He taught me a lot – coming off the screens, decision-making, a whole bunch. Just the pace of the NBA game, as a point guard.”