Blair Falls Into Perfect Situation

As a young boy honing his basketball skills, one-time NBA hopeful DeJuan Blair believed that perfecting a good bank-shot -- like the one future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan used to lead the San Antonio Spurs to multiple NBA titles -- would be particularly advantageous.

Now, after being taken by the Spurs early in the second round during the NBA Draft Thursday night (37th overall), DeJuan Blair can get Tim Duncan to show him how it's done in person. And even though he excelled as a rebounder during his two seasons at Pittsburgh, Blair likely could learn a thing or two about that as well.

And that is Blair's outlook, even though he believed -- and apparently was told -- that he could go as high as the middle of the first round. So, he left the Panthers after two seasons to declare for the draft.

"I think it was a good decision,'' Blair said. "I couldn't have landed in a better situation than I'm in right now. They traded (14-year veteran) Kurt Thomas. That was their starting forward. Everyone was hyping it up about me going in the first round, and I should've been in the first round.

"But God didn't want me to be in the first round. He wanted me to drop to where I needed to be. And it's an excellent choice, going to San Antonio with all their veterans, to come in and learn. This shows me that they had interest in me, and I'm going to give them a thousand percent every day.''

While there certainly was much speculation why Blair dropped into the second round, his agent -- Happy Walters from Immortal Entertainment in Santa Montica, Calif. -- immediately set the record straight.

"DeJuan dropped in the draft to where he did because teams were worried about his knees,'' Walters said. "He has no ACLs, and teams were worried about that. With the wear and tear of playing basketball, the concern was how long would he hold up in an NBA grind? But going back to college and playing another year of college only would have made the situation worse.''

Walters wouldn't speculate on Pitt's viewpoint, only to say that coaches are paid to win games and it certainly benefit the Panthers if Blair returned for his junior season. However, Blair's "ability to earn a living and take care of his family'' would have been delayed, and "future MRIs might have shown the knees to be worse than they are today.''

Walters also clarified contract situations in the NBA. While it is believed that only first-round picks get guaranteed money and deals running in the millions, the "first 8-10 picks in the second round can get a guaranteed contract, too. And, oftentimes, they're not for just above the league minimum.

"So, DeJuan will have a guaranteed contract with San Antonio, and we'll decide whether it will be one year, two years or even three years,'' Walters added. "And San Antonio, because they got the steal of the draft in my opinion, will want to lock him in for as long as they can.''

Since San Antonio did not have a first-round pick, the Spurs could hope to sign Blair to as much as a four-year contract worth some $3 million. This deal could be completed before Blair reports for San Antonio's mini-camp July 8 to prepare for the NBA's Summer League July 10-19 in Las Vegas.

"My whole life, people have been saying that I couldn't do stuff, and that hasn't changed,'' Blair said. "So, it's going to be fun to show everybody what I can do. This is just a stepping stone. That first-round hype, that isn't anything. I was just so happy that my name got called, and it's a team that wants me.

"But this can be motivation for me like before. They said I couldn't play in the Big East. They said I wasn't going to be rookie of the year (in the Big East), and I've got that. They said I couldn't be player of the year, and I've got that. So, it's just going to be fun, because I'm being put in an excellent situation.''

Still, it had to be disconcerting, even aggravating, to see certain players go ahead of him in the draft, some many believe are lesser talents.

"Of course that was eating me up,'' Blair said, "because I worked out against a lot of those guys. (But) a team that I didn't even work out for picked me. So, that's kind of fun. ... The teams got what they wanted. Of course, it was eating me up inside, but I had to stay positive. ... (And) my knees feel fine.

"I got rookie of the year on these knees. I got player of the year on these knees. So, it's the truth. Some GMs were worried about it, but I'm not worrying about it. I'm going to work hard and give the Spurs all I can give. This is another stepping stone, and I'm going to have fun with it. I've got the right people around me, and I've landed where I was supposed to. (And) I can't wait to get down to San Antonio and meet everyone there.''

Blair will initially arrive in San Antonio Monday to be introduced to everyone.

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