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Popovich: Spurs' Big Three will be healthy

Posted Aug 26 2009 10:06PM

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili left being busy this summer to the rest of the San Antonio Spurs.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Tuesday that his two aging stars have taken it easier than usual this offseason to get healthy, while the Spurs front office was unusually active and swinging deals for major additions like Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess.

Duncan, hobbled by knee problems down the stretch and in the playoffs, has pushed back the normal start of his normal preseason regimen by a month. The 33-year-old will begin workouts next week that the All-Star typically gets going in early August.

Ginobili, meanwhile, has limited his summer activity to a treadmill and some walks after appearing in just 44 games last season because of bad ankles.

"He is healthy," Popovich said. "He'll come back out of shape but healthy."

Popovich spoke to reporters Tuesday for the first time since the Spurs ended their busiest -- and costliest -- offseason in recent history. The typically frugal Spurs will be hit with the NBA's luxury tax after picking up Jefferson's remaining $29.2 million owed over the next two years in a trade with cost-cutting Milwaukee.

San Antonio also used their midlevel exception, about $5.85 million, to sign McDyess and give Duncan a hand in the frontcourt. The Spurs also signed veteran big man Theo Ratliff and drafted Pitt All-America forward DeJuan Blair.

Popovich said spending money was a necessity.

"The face of the league has changed significantly over the last two years," Popovich said. "We've hung in there as long as we can, and this year we're going to have to spend money like some other people."

San Antonio approached the summer looking to spend and not squander the remaining years of the Duncan era. Between Duncan's ailing legs and a weak supporting cast, the Spurs limped into their earliest summer since 2000 after a first-round playoff loss to Dallas.

Duncan sat out several back-to-backs down the stretch because of a nagging right quad injury that Popovich said has healed.

"He's got more flexibility in that leg than he ever has," Popovich said. "Significantly more. He's cranking his knees during the day and at night when he goes to bed. It's paid off."

Tony Parker also gave the Spurs a scare this month when he hurt his right ankle playing for the French national team, but Popovich said the injury was minor.

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