Spurs.com Exclusive with RC Buford

Spurs.com recently had the opportunity to sit down with Spurs General Manager RC Buford to discuss the team's offseason additions and outlook for the 2010-2011 season.

Spurs.com – What were the goals and needs of the team leading into this past summer?

RC – We wanted to do what we could to keep together a group that had a lot of transition last year and to have a great deal of internal improvement. We wanted to add a big next to Tim Duncan, a wing defender and improve our shooting.

Spurs.com – Did all of that really start with extending Manu’s contract last season?

RC – Yes. That jump started the process.

Spurs.com – You added a big in Tiago Splitter during the offseason. What are the expectations?

RC – It’s exciting to bring Tiago into our program. I think we have to be fair to him though and allow him the time to transition into a pretty sophisticated environment. He’s played a lot of places, but this will be new to him from both the standpoints of our system and the NBA as a whole.

Spurs.com – What does 2010 first round draft pick James Anderson bring to the table and how is his health?

RC – From a wing perspective, he has good size for his position. He had a prolific college career and as a scorer he meets one of our needs. He’s been rehabilitating his hamstring almost the entire summer with the intention of being ready for training camp, so we really haven’t seen a lot of him in our summer development program.

Spurs.com – What role did Anderson’s hamstring injury play during this year’s draft process?

RC – The limited availability for workouts hasn’t historically helped guys, but we took a longer term view on James. We wanted his body of work to be the determining factor on what our evaluation of him was and not a 45 minute workout.

Spurs.com – What are the plans for 2010 second round draft pick Ryan Richards?

RC – He’s under contract with his Spanish team (CB Gran Canaria) for the next couple of years. We’re not in any hurry.

Buford expects Gary Neal to provide a spark this season.
Shep McAllister/Spurs.com
  Spurs.com – Gary Neal is a guy that’s been on everyone’s radar the last few years while he played overseas. What does his role figure to be on this team?

RC – He’s one of the better shooters that we’ve ever had in our gym, but this will be a big step up from where he has been playing. He’s had success in some of the better leagues in Europe and I would expect his role, at least initially, to be that of a shooting specialist.

Spurs.com – What will new Vice President of Basketball Operations Danny Ferry’s role be in the wake of Dell Demps leaving to become the GM of the New Orleans Hornets?

RC – Danny was one of the real impact guys in our locker room when he was here as a player (2000-2003) and also later on when he was part of our basketball staff. Since that time he’s gathered an abundance of experience while operating one of the most high profile programs (Cleveland Cavaliers) in the NBA for the last several years. He’s learned a lot, he’s grown a lot and I’m just excited to get his ideas. He has a terrific understanding of what happens in the locker room and how the decisions that we make from a basketball perspective impact that.

Spurs.com – George Hill made a big jump in between his rookie year and his second year in the league and now DeJuan Blair will be looking to bridge that gap as well. What does it take to make that happen?

RC – Our coaches, led this summer by Chad Forcier and Chip Engelland, did an amazing job of getting our guys in the gym. They really focus on development programs designed individually for each player. As I watched this summer I was really proud of the work that our guys put in on and off the court.

Spurs.com – How is Tony Parker’s health heading into the upcoming season?

RC – In the 2008-09 season Tony was our best player for much of the year and then that following summer he suffered an ankle injury while playing for the French national team. He never really got healthy over the course of the 2009-10 season and kept fighting off different injuries. Hopefully the recovery that this summer allowed will put him in a great position to have a year similar to the ’09 season.

Spurs.com - Alonzo Gee, Curtis Jerrells and Garrett Temple are the young guys on the team right now. What are you hoping they bring to team?

RC – I don’t know that we know what to expect until they have a chance to go through training camp and prove to our group where they are. Alonzo Gee and Curtis Jerrells both had great experiences with the Austin Toros last year. Former Toros GM Dell Demps and former Head Coach Quinn Snider developed a great culture in Austin in the last few years and Curtis and Alonzo are the benefits of that. We’re excited about the development they’ve had. They’re both a lot better players now than they were going in training camp a year ago.

Garrett Temple came in at the end of the year, and with injuries to the team, he had a chance to play. He was pretty good in some difficult situations as we were trying to fight for playoff position and he had some pretty impactful performances holding our group together as a back-up point guard. As for the summer, it’s too bad that Garrett lost about five weeks to a sprained ankle during his first summer league game, but we’re interested to see where he is once we open camp.

Buford expects big improvements from Richard
Jefferson in his season.
D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty Images

Spurs.com – Richard Jefferson and Matt Bonner both re-signed this offseason. What was the thinking in bringing both of them back?

RC – In a lot of veterans we’ve seen great improvement from year one to year two in our system. It’s a lot to consume and become comfortable with in the first year. We anticipate that Richard Jefferson is going to have a much improved season. He’s been working hard this summer and is in great shape.

Matt Bonner is a big part of program and has been for several seasons. He’s proven to be one of our better shooters and to have lost that would have been pretty impactful.

Spurs.com – Is it a luxury to have such a solid core in Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker?

RC – As we try to project what the success of our team will be this year, it’s going to be based on how well those three guys that carry us (Tim, Tony & Manu) play. We hope to be able to limit their early season minutes, but at the same time I think we are going to be more aggressive in our approach to early season play. All three came to Coach Pop at the end of last season and said “It’s good for us to be pointing to the playoffs, but we also have to recognize that there are a lot of really good teams right now and we want to attack early next season.”

Spurs.com – So seeding will take a higher level of importance throughout this upcoming season?

RC – We want to be healthy and fresh when the playoffs start, but it’s clear that with as many good teams as there are in the league now it has become more difficult to win a playoff series on the road. So we’re going to approach this season with an eye on doing as well as we can to secure home court advantage.

Spurs.com –Antonio McDyess was a presence down the stretch last season. What can we expect from him this season?

RC – Antonio didn’t surprise us in anything that happened last year. He was very solid and in the playoffs when we needed him to play his best he was pretty darn good. I anticipate that it will be the same thing this season and by the middle of the year he will be one of our key big-men contributors.

Spurs.com – Are you comfortable with the make-up of the team heading into the season?

RC – You’d always like to have 15 all-stars, but that’s not feasible. We believe in the direction we’re going. We’ve added depth without losing much in the way of rotation minutes, added big-man Tiago Splitter, improved our shooting and hopefully have had some pretty terrific internal development with our young guys.