Spurs notebook: French connection aiding Diaw

PHOENIX — Newly acquired forward Boris Diaw is five days into the process of learning the Spurs’ offensive and defensive schemes, an endeavor that famously takes most players a full season to master.

At least he had a head start.

With point guard Tony Parker running the show for the French national team in Olympic qualifying competition in September, Les Bleus ran a lot of the same sets the Spurs employ during the season.

“He doesn’t know a lot of what we’re doing, but he did some of it with the French team this summer,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s relying mostly on good basketball IQ.”

Parker calls teaming up with Diaw in silver and black “like a little dream.” The two first began playing together in France when Parker was 16 and Diaw was 15.

In San Antonio, Parker has become Diaw’s tutor on the Spurs’ system. Or, as it turns out, Diaw’s translator.

“(The difference) is more the terminology than the plays,” Parker said. “Once he sees the play, he knows what to do.”

Diaw has played in three games in three nights since signing with the Spurs on Friday, scoring two points in each. With the Spurs’ frontcourt shorthanded in Sunday’s victory against Philadelphia, Diaw supplied seven rebounds in 26:37.

“I didn’t even get a chance to practice, and I played three games in a row,” Diaw said. “That’s the NBA.”

Availability update: Tonight in Phoenix, Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will be available at the same time for the first time since Wednesday at Minnesota.

Tiago Splitter (back spasms) and Gary Neal (left foot sprain) made the trip and will each be re-evaluated after shootaround this morning. Neal is listed as probable; Splitter as doubtful.

Neal, a backup guard, suffered his injury stepping on the foot of DeJuan Blair in Friday’s win over Dallas. Splitter has missed three consecutive games.

Meanwhile, the Spurs are hopeful Australian point guard Patty Mills — signed to a contract but unable to play while ironing out visa issues — will be free to join the team this week.

Joseph earns D-League honor: Rookie point guard Cory Joseph, in the midst of his third assignment with the Austin Toros this season, was named the Development League’s Performer of the Week.

Joseph averaged 19 points, 9.3 assists and nine rebounds during a 3-0 week for the Toros. His performance included a D-League season-high 25 points Wednesday against Iowa and a triple-double (15 points, 17 rebounds, 12 assists) Friday against Maine.

Cardinal’s reply: After Friday’s game, Spurs forward Stephen Jackson called out Dallas’ Brian Cardinal for a flagrant foul against Duncan.

“When you can’t play no more, I guess all you can do is go out and try to hurt people,” Jackson said.

Cardinal’s response came courtesy of the Dallas Morning News.

“The thing I take from that is he thinks I once could play,” Cardinal told the newspaper.


Twitter: @JMcDonald_SAEN

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