Spurs’ Mills happily back to work

By Mike Monroe

Back on the Spurs’ practice court Monday after missing a week with a sprained right ankle, backup point guard Patrick Mills worked on catching up with his teammates.

“You never want to be out too long with injuries,” said Mills, the Australian who will vie this season with Gary Neal, Cory Joseph and Nando De Colo for playing time behind Tony Parker.

“Mine was a little ankle sprain that recovered really well. I’ve been rehabbing the last week. I got a little itchy watching the last three games.

“You never want to be off the court, but I felt the stuff I did off the court — watching film, talking to the coaches, talking to the players — I still felt I was in the mix. All the new stuff that got put in, I made sure I understood all that.”

Watching three preseason games from a vantage point behind the Spurs’ bench gave Mills a good perspective on newcomer De Colo and much-improved second-year player Joseph.

“What Nando’s brought to our team is exactly what he’s good at and what he’s been great at playing internationally,” Mills said. “He’s got great vision. He sets up the team really well. His passing is unbelievable, which he’s shown the past few games. And he can shoot, as well.

“Cory’s come a long way from last year. He had a big summer. I think of all the stuff he did individually in the weight room and individually with the coaches. He got after it a lot, and you can see the stuff he put in (out on) the court. He’s becoming a real point guard.”

With Neal, the team’s top scorer (13.5 points per game) in the preseason, also off to a great start, Mills joked that he might have to shut up about how good De Colo and Joseph look.

“I don’t want to backtrack on all those compliments,” he said. “But the great thing about this environment is we’ve got a number of point guards that are really good, really solid. If nothing else, it’s going to make every one of us even better, the more we push ourselves.”

Early practice, early departure: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich changed his training camp practice schedule Monday to accommodate Matt Bonner’s annual golf tournament that benefits the Kids Sports Network.

He pushed up the start of practice by one hour, and when it ended, he and Bonner headed to TPC at San Antonio for the event.

No Duncan: Spurs captain Tim Duncan did not practice because of an undisclosed illness.

Twitter: @Monroe_SA

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