Spurs notebook: Players arrive in ship shape

For the first time in nearly six months, Spurs forward Matt Bonner stood before a bank of television cameras Tuesday wearing sweat-stained workout gear, not a sport coat.

A leading voice for the National Basketball Players Association during the NBA lockout, Bonner was happy to be back inside the Spurs’ practice facility, even if it meant passing a grueling fitness test administered by new strength and conditioning coach Matt Herring.

“It was not tougher than running up the mountains in New Hampshire,” said Bonner, referring to his usual lockout workout. “But it was not easy, regardless.”

By lunchtime Tuesday, 10 Spurs players had graced the door of the practice gym: Bonner, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Gary Neal, Richard Jefferson, James Anderson, Da’Sean Butler, Danny Green and rookies Kawhi Leonard and Cory Joseph.

Manu Ginobili was expected to arrive late Tuesday, with DeJuan Blair also en route.

Until the league’s new collective bargaining agreement is ratified, coaches are not allowed to supervise on-court workouts. Though facilities across the league have been unlocked since Thursday, players’ activities have been limited to physical exams, conditioning work and light shooting drills.

“Everybody seems in pretty good shape,” said Bonner, who was headed to New York for a final round of collective bargaining meetings this afternoon. “The person I worried about most was myself. I passed the fitness test this morning, so I was pretty excited.”

One player who arrived in peak physical condition was Parker. The 29-year-old point guard began his offseason leading the French national team to its first Olympic berth since 2000. Since early October, Parker had been playing with ASVEL Villeurbanne, the French League team he co-owns.

He played his final game with ASVEL last week.

“I’m just happy to be home and happy to be back to my normal life,” Parker said. “It was fun in France, but definitely better here.”

FREE AGENTS IN TOWN: Free-agent small forward Caron Butler made his visit to Spurs headquarters Tuesday as scheduled, his agent, Raymond Brothers confirmed via text message.

Butler, 31, has averaged 16.6 points in a nine-season career. He had last season cut short in Dallas after tearing his right patella tendon in a game on New Year’s Day.

Also scheduled for a Tuesday visit to San Antonio was Washington swingman Josh Howard, who has averaged 15.1 points over eight seasons, most of them spent in Dallas.

BRING ‘EM ON: Parker said he was looking forward to opening the season Dec. 26 at home against Memphis, the team that bounced the Spurs from the first round of the postseason last April.

The Grizzlies defeated the top-seeded Spurs in six games, becoming just the second No. 8 seed in the best-of-7 era to advance past the first round.

“There’s definitely a lot of motivation there,” Parker said. “I want to play them in the playoffs, but I’ll start with the first game of the season.”

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