By Mike Monroe
There are some strange new markings guiding the Spurs’ renewed emphasis on defense, reminders to the team’s interior defenders about how to approach certain defensive matchups.
At each end of the three full courts inside the team’s practice facility, magenta-colored lines mark the sides of trapezoids that delineate an area in which defenders are reminded to play traditional post defense — squared-up and keeping their bodies between offensive players and the basket.
The baseline and free-throw line form two sides of the trapezoid. The magenta lines run from the corner of each baseline and sideline diagonally to the sides of the free-throw line.
Curiously, the magenta markings are inscribed with the letters K and M because the club is calling the area inside the trapezoid the Karl Malone zone, homage to the Hall of Fame Utah Jazz power forward who did the bulk of his scoring inside the delineated area.
“If you’re on the line or closer, you play post defense,” Spurs forward Matt Bonner explained. “If you’re on the other side, you play perimeter defense. It determines how you position your feet.”
How did Bonner know that the shape of the Karl Malone zone was a trapezoid?
“I learned that from my daughter’s Sesame Street shape book,” he said.
Jazzy influences: In addition to having a daily reminder of Malone, the Spurs last week were under the observation of another Jazz Hall of Famer, retired coach Jerry Sloan.
Long a favorite of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, Sloan spent several days at camp and sat in R.C. Buford’s box in the stands at ATT Center to observe Wednesday’s intra-squad scrimmage.
“Having Coach Sloan here was really special, not just for me, but our players,” Popovich said. “They all respect him so much. Being able to just talk basketball and be around the guy was really special for me, because every time the season begins everybody is doing their own thing with their own team and you don’t get to do that. Being able to go to dinner with him, to have him in our coaches meetings and add to what we’re doing is really a win for us. I think he enjoyed it, too.”
First cut: The Spurs waived point guard Sherron Collins, the former Kansas star who played 20 games for the Charlotte Bobcats in 2010-11.
With a backcourt that includes five other players with guaranteed contracts who are either point guards or combination guards — Tony Parker, Gary Neal, Patrick Mills, Cory Joseph and Nando De Colo — the odds were stacked against him.
Nineteen players remain on the training camp roster.