The San Antonio Spurs have added three new players to their training camp roster this week, bringing in former second round pick James Gist, veteran sharpshooter Kirk Penney along with Marcus Cousin, a 6-foot-11 center out of the University of Houston, according to a source close to the situation.
The Spurs currently have 11 players with guaranteed contracts already on the roster along with their three NBA Development League call-ups from last season -- Garrett Temple, Alonzo Gee and Curtis Jerrells -- also attending camp on non-guaranteed contracts. Suffice to say camp will feature some interesting battles as there are currently slated to be six players fighting for a maximum of four open roster spots - though the Spurs are only mandated by the NBA to sign two of the six players.
Gist, a 6-foot-9 forward out of Maryland, was the 57th overall pick for the Spurs during the 2008 NBA Draft. Since being drafted, Gist has played for the Spurs in the past three Vegas Summer League, but never signed a training camp contract with them which allowed the Spurs to keep his rights - until now. Once Gist is put on the training camp roster, the Spurs will lose his rights whenever he's released, even if it's prior to the regular season.
The 23-year-old Gist has spent his first two professional seasons playing in Europe, first in Italy with Angelico Biella where he'd average 13 points and six boards 34 games during his rookie season and then with Lokomotiv Kuban in Russia last season. Playing in the Russian Superleague, Gist averaged 11.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and led the league in blocks before returning to the USA this offseason to do his third tour of duty with the Spurs' Summer League team.
Penney, a 29-year-old guard, has played in six career NBA games but none since a 10-day call-up with the Los Angeles Clippers during the 2004-2005 season. After that call-up, it'd seemed like Penney had decided to focus on his overseas career as he played in Israel, Lithuania, Germany and then three straight seasons with his the New Zealand Breakers in his home country before decided to embark on one last attempt at an NBA call-up by joining the NBA Development League's Sioux Falls Skyforce in March of last season.
Penney was able to make an immediate contribution to the Skyforce, despite joining the team with just four games left in the regular season, by averaging 23.8 points and shooting 53% from beyond the arc (HIGHLIGHTS!) before staying strong during their first-round playoff exit by averaging 21.3 points and hitting 6-of-9 three-point attempts in the three-game series. Penney then went on to star for New Zealand in the FIBA World Championships, averaging 24.7 points and in six games against some of the world's best players.
Cousin, a 6-foot-11 center out of the University of Houston, averaged 10.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks as a senior for the Cougars during 2008-2009 NCAA season. Cousin was invited to play for the Houston Rockets in last year's Vegas Summer League, though didn't appear in any games before heading overseas to split last season playing backup minutes for teams in Turkey and Israel last season.
I honestly don't know much else about Cousin, though looking at his stats and watching highlights from his play at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament - a tournament filled with the team's of the top college seniors - leads me to believe that he has a solid mid-range game, is able to finish strong and is solid with weakside help on defense. More than likely, Cousin will end up playing for the Austin Toros if he's unable to crack the Spurs roster.