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Former Spurs super-sub Jonathon “The Juice” Simmons returns to San Antonio with the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night, closing out a three-game preseason home stand for the silver and black. Simmons signed a lucrative three-year, $20 million contract with the Magic over the summer, in a wild offseason that later saw him rescued by Houston rapper Trae tha Truth in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
In Simmons’ absence, San Antonio signed a slew of wings heading into training camp including Rudy Gay, Darrun Hilliard, Brandon Paul, and London Perrantes. With Kawhi Leonard nursing a thigh injury that will keep him out of preseason action, opportunity abounds to make an initial impact. Generally regarded as meaningless games, these upcoming preseason contests could provide an early indicator as to who will join Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills in providing sparks off the bench.
“The truth is that we’ve got a great front office and they always figure out a way to bring a lot of talent,” Ginobili told assembled reporters on Wednesday. “Kids are maybe are not well known already or proven in this league, but they see things that maybe other teams don’t, and we end up always having a long team with a lot of players.”
First up for San Antonio is a preseason rematch with the Sacramento Kings on Friday night, followed by an afternoon showdown with the Denver Nuggets on Sunday. The Kings bested the Spurs 106-100 to open the preseason in Sacramento, with LaMarcus Aldridge leading the way with 17 points and Patty Mills contributing 11 points of his own.
Earlier this week Mills was asked if the Juice Unit moniker would still apply to this group of Spurs reserves, now that Simmons has moved on to Orlando.
“Having seen Manu go about training camp and preseason, taking charges in the first preseason game and getting steals, I definitely think we can still call it juice,” responded Mills after practice. “It’s just probably Grandpa Juice more than anything.”