LAS VEGAS – The San Antonio Spurs open their Summer League schedule against the Atlanta Hawks Sunday. The team features former Vanderbilt forward John Jenkins. Its coaching staff features former San Antonio Spurs point guard Nick Van Exel. Van Exel was a Spur for one season, the 2006 season when the Spurs lost to the Mavericks in the second round of the playoffs. Van Exel said Coach Gregg Popovich has been a huge influence on his coaching style despite his short stint in San Antonio.
“I took so much with me from him,” Van Exel said. “I take more from him in that one year with me than any other coach I played for.”
That’s high praise. Van Exel went on to say he especially loves Pop’s style of play on both offense and defense. While he didn’t say that they had been scouting the Spurs specifically, he did say it’s important to pay attention to every Summer League roster in hopes of training camp invitees or future rotation players.
“You actually pay attention to every team because even if a player doesn’t fit the system of the team he’s playing for doesn’t mean he won’t be good for us,” Van Exel said.
Summer League (it was in Irvine, CA in ’93, not Vegas) was important for Van Exel, who was a second round pick out of Cincinatti when he was drafted by the Lakers. With a chuckle he said his first game was so bad he was certain he wasn’t going to make the team. Instead he ended up going down as one of the best second round steals ever. The Hawks and Spurs tip off Sunday at 7:00 pm central time.