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  1. #1
    Danger Will Robinson! GSH's Avatar
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    [Note: I searched and didn't find this posted elsewhere. If I missed it, please jump my ass and I will sacrifice my firstborn.]

    This article has some observations about Marcus Williams and Malik Hairston, and talks a little about the relationship between the Spurs and Toros. Thought some of you might appreciate a distraction from Manu and the impending End Of The World.

    http://www.48minutesofhell.com/2009/...sign-williams/

    16th to 15th: Spurs Sign Williams
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    Saturday night I got all laudatory about Marcus Williams. On Monday, the D-League crashed into the praise pile up –Williams was named to the D-League’s First Team, edging teammates Dwayne Jones and Malik Hairston, both honorable mentions. Apparently Dell Demps and Dennis Lindsey were impressed too. They made the recommendation, and Pop and Buford made the call. The always-in-front-of-the-action Ridiculous Upside is reporting that Marcus Williams is now a Spur.

    Scott Schroeder breaks it down this way:

    …Marcus Williams to the Spurs call-up. Love it. He was number one on our call-up list, and for good reason. This season, he developed like crazy, adding a good amount of ball handing to his repertoire, while leading Austin in scoring and assists, along with sporting a long ball quite as ugly as it used to be. This one seems to be what many are calling a ‘protection pick’. I’m assuming that another team was going to call him up, but Williams have the Spurs the opportunity to keep him in their system before taking the call-up. Spurs get a longer look in the Summer League, and Williams gets the money he’s been working toward all season. Perfect.

    To make room for Marcus Williams, the Spurs are waiving Malik Hairston. We’re collecting our thoughts on that story, and will provide comment it in a subsequent post. For now, we want to comment on the Williams signing with a eye toward the the bigger picture.

    Metonymy, Alamo City

    Beneath my recent Toros Watch: Ian Mahinmi, 48 Minutes of Hell reader NickyDubs said, “I’m still waiting for one Toro to make a significant, worthwhile contribution for the Spurs. Given the trend of the Toros thus far, hopefully that day comes soon.” I want to use the Marcus Williams signing to provide a modest window into one way in which the Toros benefit to the Spurs.

    Marcus Williams, as many of our readers know, was a 2007 2nd round draft pick of the Spurs. He didn’t make the team, but did accept allocation to the Toros. In the course of his rookie season, the Spurs treated him to a couple 10-Day contracts, before he eventually accepted a contract with the Clippers. Things didn’t pan out in Los Angeles, and Williams found his way back to base, rejoining the Toros this season. He’s more or less had two full seasons with the Toros prior to today’s call up from San Antonio–two full seasons in the Spurs system, two full seasons with their chosen staff of coaches and trainers.

    The Fruit of Genius

    What the San Antonio Spurs have in Marcus Williams is the fruit of genius. They’ve made good on what heretofor would have been a throwaway 2nd round draft pick. They’ve found a way to develop players without burning roster space at the end of their bench. They found a way for guys to log heavy minutes in their system without playing on their court. The Spurs, in essence, have found ways to add value to all their draft picks. With the Austin Toros in place, the Spurs have rendered the expression “throwaway 2nd round pick” obsolete. Their program cares about those picks, it has a vested interest in developing precisely those kind of players.

    In doing so, the Spurs’ program is making a promise to every subsequent draft pick. They’re saying, “We care. Trust us. We’re acting in your best interest. We’ll help you make the Association.” This is not only the case with Marcus Williams, but also with Malik Hairston, last year’s second round selection that became a Spur via Austin. (Hairston has since been waived, but we’re not sure if that’s long term.) If the Spurs cut a player but request he accept allocation to Austin, who could doubt that they are extending a genuine opportunity his way? If context is acreage, the D-League bought the land. But it’s the Spurs who are building the house.

    The places of genius here are the shared benefits between player, franchise, and league. Let’s take one such benefit: continuity. Assume a natural progression between the 4 steps of draft, summer league, training camp, and D-League. Under normal circumstances, there is a significant shock to the system between steps 3 and 4, training camp and D-League. This is when a player is cut, relocated, and after some scrambling with his agent, thrown into a completely new situation. This where the basketball vagabond is born. It’s also a place where talent can be stumped by the external forces of circumstance. It’s the place where a player reverts to what he knows–i.e. being a top talent scorer–rather than growing into what he needs to become, such as a better defender or ball handler. For the D-League, this means it’s getting the best possible talent and, theoretically, the interest of fans in two markets. If you haven’t noticed, it’s the position of this blog that every Toros story is, to some degree, a Spurs story. The Toros are an integral part of all that goes in the offices of R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich.

    Seamless Transitions

    Under the Spurs model, the ascension between these 4 steps is seamless. The same system, culture, and expectations follow the player along his pilgrimage. Austin works in concert with the concerns of San Antonio–if the Spurs want, say, Ian Mahinmi to set better screens, then the staff in Austin will give attention to this detail. By the time a player arrives in Austin, after summer league and camp activities, he is grappling with skills development and execution, not with understanding. He has time to figure how his amateur game can make the transition into the professional ranks, which brings us back to Marcus Williams. Many aspects of Williams’ game have improved during his D-League stint. He owes a debt of gratitude to his coaches and trainers. Until recently, Williams suffered from the fatal stigma of “tweener”. His production was abundant, but his position was uncertain. Now, after two years of develpment, Marcus Williams is emerging as a point forward, which is just another way of saying tall point guard. His detailed understanding of the Spurs/Toros system is undoubtedly a great help during this process. He’s past the point of thinking; he just has to play.

    When Manu Ginobili went down for the year, the Spurs did not reach out to–choosing a player at random–Sam Cassell (or some other free agent), they reached down to Austin. Sam Cassell would not know the system, and he’s a very temporary band aid. Marcus Williams is well-versed in the Spurs system, and he might have a future with the team. Earlier this season, the Spurs used Malik Hairston in precisely the same Manu Ginobili injury stop gap fashion. Hairston’s play was intrigiung enough that Coach Popovich called his name as first off the bench in a short series of contests.

    Malik Hairston is on the same path. He is an NBA wing, but he played out of position during college at power forward. He could make an NBA roster by developing his already sturdy defense into game changing defense, but that won’t matter unless he becomes less of an offensive liability. He needs time in Austin to develop his catch and shoot game, to extend his range, and further refine his defensive potential. If he wants to stick in the NBA, he’ll work around the clock at those things. The Spurs are providing Hairston with this opportunity without the impediment of a new system or city.

  2. #2
    Spurs 2006 NBA Champs poop's Avatar
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    good read. hopefully this pans out for all involved
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  3. #3
    Bruce Almighty Bruno's Avatar
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    Nice article.

    This year and last year, there have been 51 D-League call-ups. So the average call-ups by franchise is slightly below 2.

    During these 2 years, Spurs have had 10 call-ups.
    Even if a couple of these call-ups have been made to use a glitch in D-League rules, it is a damn impressive number.
    This number quite show how Spurs are working with the D-League and Toros. When they see someone they like, they don't hesitate and they just sign him with Spurs. Then the whole Spurs' staff evaluate him and if he fails, they try someone else.
    This way to work allows Spurs to evaluate a maximum of players but it forces Spurs staff to judge players quickly once they sign with Spurs.

    It is exactly was has happened with Hairston and Williasm. Spurs obviously weren't that pleased with Hairston but liked what they saw from Williams in Austin.

  4. #4
    Believe. Pentagruel's Avatar
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    Yeah, thanks for posting this. I really like how the Spurs-Toros association is developing talent. Who knows, it could end up developing some solid role type players or even some really good talent that just never realized itself in the often unstable world of basketball.

  5. #5
    Ghost of Mr. K SenorSpur's Avatar
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    Very nice article. Thanks for posting.

    It's a wonderful organizational model the Spurs have in place. Buying the D-League team in Austin was a very sound organizational decision that will be key to the development of young players. The Spurs have yet to reap any benefits, but I'm hoping Ian, MW and Malik will all become long-term additions to the team.

    I just hope Pop will allow them to flourish by trusting them enough to give them some much-needed playing time and continue coachin' 'em up along the way.

  6. #6
    Drive For Five crc21209's Avatar
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    The guys that should get a training camp invite to try and crack the roster next year are: Mahinmi (of course, he's signed already), Williams, Hairston, and Gist.

  7. #7
    Ghost of Mr. K SenorSpur's Avatar
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    If Marcus is developing as a point forward, I'm sure somewhere Nellie is licking his chops

  8. #8
    44-50-21 Biggems's Avatar
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    I wish every team owned a D-League team. I wish the NBA would make it so the NBA club uses the D-League team as a farm system.

    Make it to where they could send down players and call up players, without having to release anyone. Make it to where the player sent down or called up, must remain with that team for either 10 days or 5 games....whichever occurs first.

    In baseball, if a MLB player is injured, they often get sent down to the minors to help their rehab, by getting them back into game condition. It would be nice if NBA teams could do this. Also, think about how that would help the D-League. Imagine those fans in Austin being able to catch a glimpse of Manu for 2 games....or if the Lakers team had Bynum on it....those fans would almost definitely come out for those games.

    It would be cool if we could have sent Gist to Austin instead of Europe. We could have kept Hairston, Pops, Tolliver, Ahearn, and a few others.
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  9. #9
    The OL' Perfessor wildbill2u's Avatar
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    The Spurs are using the D-league precisely as it was supposed to be used--for development of players who aren't ready for the big show.

    It's a two way street and the players have to accept the fact that they aren't ready and have to forego some better paydays in Europe if they want to have the best chance at an NBA career.

    People sneer at the Spurs FO and brain trust, but when the European league players became over-priced and largely unavailable they have turned to another inexpensive source for players that aren't superstars but can maybe play within the system. SMART!

  10. #10
    Veteran rold50's Avatar
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    The Spurs are using the D-league precisely as it was supposed to be used--for development of players who aren't ready for the big show.

    It's a two way street and the players have to accept the fact that they aren't ready and have to forego some better paydays in Europe if they want to have the best chance at an NBA career.

    People sneer at the Spurs FO and brain trust, but when the European league players became over-priced and largely unavailable they have turned to another inexpensive source for players that aren't superstars but can maybe play within the system. SMART!
    I think the problem with the current system is that even though each NBA team has an affilliated D-league team, they don't own the rights to the d-league players (except for those players that are also part of the NBA team). So any NBA team can still sign any player from any D-league team. So it's strictly not a farm system of an NBA team.
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  11. #11
    bandwagoner fans suck ducks's Avatar
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    If Marcus is developing as a point forward, I'm sure somewhere Nellie is licking his chops
    marcus williams for sj
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    “It’s hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them,” James said. “I’m a winner. It’s not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you’re not going to congratulate them. That doesn’t make sense to me. I’m a competitor. That’s what I do. It doesn’t make sense for me to go over and shake somebody’s hand.”
    he had to email it to howard could not tell someone in person that


  12. #12
    @Kap10Jack Blackjack's Avatar
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    I wish every team owned a D-League team. I wish the NBA would make it so the NBA club uses the D-League team as a farm system.

    Make it to where they could send down players and call up players, without having to release anyone. Make it to where the player sent down or called up, must remain with that team for either 10 days or 5 games....whichever occurs first.

    In baseball, if a MLB player is injured, they often get sent down to the minors to help their rehab, by getting them back into game condition. It would be nice if NBA teams could do this. Also, think about how that would help the D-League. Imagine those fans in Austin being able to catch a glimpse of Manu for 2 games....or if the Lakers team had Bynum on it....those fans would almost definitely come out for those games.

    It would be cool if we could have sent Gist to Austin instead of Europe. We could have kept Hairston, Pops, Tolliver, Ahearn, and a few others.
    Probably not the most feasible, but I'd love to see it happen.

  13. #13
    I like Ike Darkwaters's Avatar
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    I don't know that the waiving of Hairston is necesarrily reason to think that the Spurs aren't high on him anymore. His salary is locked in for the rest of the year, and he won't see any time in the playoffs, so it doesn't really matter whether or not hes "technically" a Spur. So they waive him and pick up Williams, with the verbal agreement that he will play their summer league and show up to training camp next season. This way they lock in both Hairston and Williams. Voila.

  14. #14
    44-50-21 Biggems's Avatar
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    Probably not the most feasible, but I'd love to see it happen.
    especially with the recent economic downturn.....had they thought about this 5-10 years ago, when the economy was doing ok.....it might have been much more feasible. they would also have to study MLB extensively to see how they contractually and legally handle the minor league system.

  15. #15
    Veteran Manufan909's Avatar
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    I don't know that the waiving of Hairston is necesarrily reason to think that the Spurs aren't high on him anymore. His salary is locked in for the rest of the year, and he won't see any time in the playoffs, so it doesn't really matter whether or not hes "technically" a Spur. So they waive him and pick up Williams, with the verbal agreement that he will play their summer league and show up to training camp next season. This way they lock in both Hairston and Williams. Voila.
    +1

    That is my wish too. The article said they would foucus next time on Hairston, when should that one come out, or did I miss the thread about it?
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  16. #16
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    The next time became this.
    Last edited by tav1; 04-10-2009 at 10:17 PM.

  17. #17
    Veteran Manufan909's Avatar
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    Beautiful article. I want FO Pop back!!!

    And I'd love if Pop read this.

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