SIAULIAI, LITHUANIA - SEPTEMBER 04: Marco Belinelli (L) of Italy defends against Nando de Colo of France the EuroBasket 2011 first round group B match between Italy and France at Siauliai Arena on September 4, 2011 in Siauliai, Lithuania. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Even ten months later, the words carelessly thrown around about Nando De Colo are still haunting.
It was back at the 2011 European Championship in Kaunas, Lithuania and as De Colo and the French National Team were on their way to capturing the silver medal at Eurobasket and qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics, much of the talk was about how De Colo couldn't handle the big game pressure playing alongside NBA cats like Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum, Joakim Noah, Boris Diaw and Kevin Seraphin.
It's good to see the San Antonio Spurs weren't hearing that noise then or now.
On Friday, the 6-foot-5 combo guard is scheduled to return to France where De Colo will start training with Les Bleus after spending the last few days in San Antonio where he underwent a physical with the Spurs.
He is also expected to play in Saturday's friendly game against Great Britain in Orleans, France.
At this point, San Antonio maintains they are simply monitoring De Colo's overall growth after another season spent overseas with Valencia of Spain's ACB League. But even after the former 53rd overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft averaged 12.9 points, 3.1 assists, and 2.7 rebounds this season, it appears all signs point toward the two sides beginning increased contract discussions.
It's about time.
There is a lot still up in the air about De Colo's eventual NBA debut, but knowing San Antonio's backcourt situation penciling him into the Spurs 2012-13 roster is beginning to resemble more of a reality than just rumors floating around this offseason.
While Marcus Denmon -- the 59th overall pick in the second round out of Missouri - will compete for a training camp invite in the Spurs' backcourt at the Las Vegas Summer League, San Antonio also has two restricted free agents to consider possibly replacing in Danny Green and Patty Mills.
De Colo clearly brings experience to the mix - he's won multiple MVP awards and helped Valencia win the Eurocup in 2010, but still his overall game continues to undergo development. Those familiar with De Colo's game target his inability to cover bigger, quicker guards on defense and wonder how the adjustment to the NBA will play out.
Running the pick and roll in and knocking down his jumper are just two areas De Colo excels in. He can also step out on the perimeter and extend the range.
De Colo's never been quickest guard on defense even since debuting with Pro-A Cholet Basket in the French League back in 2006, but he does see the floor very well and puts guys in position to score. In other words, he plays the right way and plays within his abilities - something Gregg Popovich won't drive him to drink countless bottles of pinot noir.
Then again, Coach Pop does love his wine.
He also adores not having to hand-hold anyone on the team, particularly those players with international experience. Just ask Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter. The conversations Popovich and Parker have likely had about fellow Frenchman De Colo are probably between often and a lot. More than anyone, Parker can provide the most accurate scouting report and his opinion carries much weight within the organization. Chalk it up to Coach Pop doing his due diligence in trying to improve his roster along with GM R.C. Buford.
Adding De Colo to an all-star mix in San Antonio this offseason is a good start.
And that's the beauty of the Spurs' system. They are able to insert a player of De Colo's caliber with ease.
However, here's the one question still up for debate until he makes his official NBA debut: is the kid ready to run in this league?
San Antonio is about to find out.