Though he expressed doubt in July that the Spurs valued his services and no doubt he was being shopped to other teams, forward-center DeJuan Blair insisted he was not surprised to be back in training camp.
Blair’s doubt was fueled by his disappearance from the Spurs’ playing rotation in the playoffs, when he logged just 76 minutes in 10 of the club’s 14 postseason games.
During his participation in the U.S. Olympic team’s training camp in Las Vegas — Blair and teammate Kawhi Leonard were on the select team of young NBA players that helped prepare Team USA for the London Olympics — Blair told the Express-News he felt “torn down” by a postseason demotion that followed a starting role in 62 regular-season games. He was nearly certain the team would trade him, though he stressed that he did not ask for a trade.
There was no trade, and Monday, Blair reported to camp in decent condition and vowed to do what he can to regain a prominent role.
“I’ve got to go and try to figure out what this team wants from me and what they need from me,” he said. “I’ve got to use that as fuel to start my engine and just keep going. Right now, I’m just worrying about my body and getting ready for training camp.”
Asked directly if he preferred ending up elsewhere, Blair was evasive.
“I’m here,” he said.
They’re free: Reserve big man Tiago Splitter did his best Tuesday to ignore the nightmare of his horrid foul shooting in last season’s playoffs as he discussed one of the holes in his game. After a season of steady improvement from the foul line — he finished the regular season at 69.1 percent, a big improvement from the 58.2 percent he shot in seven seasons in the Spanish League — Splitter made only 16 of 43 postseason foul shots (37.2 percent).
“I’m always going to work on that,” he said. “Last season, I improved way more than the first season and struggled a little bit in the end. It was more confidence stuff than other things.”
Sloan visits: Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan, winner of 1,221 games as coach of the Bulls and Jazz, was a visitor at Tuesday’s first session of training camp. Long a role model for Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, Sloan retired 54 games into the 2010-11 season.
Open scrimmage: The Spurs will hold an open intrasquad scrimmage at the ATT Center tonight. The public is invited free of charge.
Tipoff is scheduled at 7:30 p.m., with fan activities starting at 6:30 p.m.
There’s a preseason game on tap Saturday at the ATT Center against Italian League power Montepaschi Siena, winner of six straight Italian League titles.
Today: Intrasquad scrimmage (free admission, open seating) — 7:30 p.m., ATT Center
Saturday: First preseason game — vs. Montepaschi Siena, 7:30 p.m., ATT Center
Oct. 31: Regular-season opener — @Hornets, 7 p.m., KENS NBA TV
Nov. 1: Home opener — vs. Thunder, 8:30 p.m., TNT