The big man's gotten used to sitting on the bench in the playoffs (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
I hit on this a few weeks ago, but DeJuan Blair hasn't exactly been front and center for the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Playoffs this season. Despite playing nearly 20 minutes a game, Blair's seen his time steadily decrease.
Blair saw his time cut in half as he played only about nine minutes against the Utah Jazz in the Spurs' first-round series, but that was just the beginning. He played a total of only three minutes against the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round.
Blair's disappearance is extremely puzzling considering he played such an integral role in the regular season. Granted, the Spurs did pick up Boris Diaw midseason, but Blair was still receiving minutes even after that acquisition.
So, could Blair finally break through and get back into rotation against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference finals? Even though he's had some success against them before, Blair failed to get onto the court in Game 1, making it his third straight game without playing. Gregg Popovich is aware of his previous success, but that didn't translate into any minutes.
Like I said before, the Spurs continue rolling along, so if you're Popovich, I can understand not making any changes. But still, for someone like Blair, it's got to be confusing. I can't imagine he doesn't know the reason that he's not playing at all - any good coach would fill a player in on why he's gone from 20 minutes a game to zero, after all. But Blair can't be all that happy at this point.
So where's he at in his contract?He's in the last year with the Spurs holding an option for 2012-13. Does Blair beg the Spurs not to exercise that option since he would undoubtedly find another NBA home? I don't know ... fact is, it doesn't really matter. The Spurs will do what's best for them and keeping Blair for the $1M or so they owe him is a steal.
I can't speak for him, but you've got to imagine Blair would think twice about re-signing with the Spurs unless things changed dramatically next season. As I said, he would draw a significant amount of interest from other teams and even if he doesn't start, has proven he's capable of being a solid contributor.