The NBA has become a global league.
The Spurs recently trained in France, home of guard Tony Parker. Manu Ginobili, Fabricio Oberto and Andres Nocioni play for the Argentine national team when they're not playing against each other.And besides their Argentinian forward, the Bulls also boast natives of Sudan, Lithuania, Ukraine, Switzerland and Australia on their roster.
The international impact went beyond the Bulls' 99-67 thrashing of the Spurs on Thursday night at the AT&T Center.
It could have effects on the Bulls' starting lineup.
Luol Deng traveled to London to receive his British citizenship, enabling Nocioni to experiment with starters Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, P.J. Brown and Ben Wallace.
Deng's return trip is hitting the typical snags, meaning he might not be available for Friday's home exhibition against Minnesota. And coach Scott Skiles is itching to settle on a starting five.
"I'm not so much concerned about the overall rotation for opening night or the first few games," Skiles said. "But we have to come to a conclusion on a starting lineup."
Skiles stressed nothing is wrong with the lineup featuring Deng. But if he misses Friday, only three exhibitions remain.
"Then do we want to change the lineup back only to possibly change it again before the first game?" Skiles asked rhetorically. "Andres provides a little more spacing because teams tend to creep [out on] him at the line. But [Deng] has the cutting game that makes him unique. Where we end up, who knows?"
Nocioni, for his part, is spouting his typical line about not minding either role.
"For me, it's the same," he said. "I want to play. That's it. I want to help this team to win. I don't have any problems if Luol is the starter. I still play minutes.
"I think I can help the team coming from the bench. Sometimes, I can change the rhythm of the game. I feel great here. I'm comfortable."
So were the Bulls, who had 23 assists, only 13 turnovers and enjoyed a whopping 26-4 edge on fast-break points in improving to 4-0.
"We played very well," Skiles said. "We had two priorities, to run more and harder, and not turn it over when we ran. I thought we accomplished both."
Gordon's 19 points came on 7-of-12 shooting. Hinrich added 10 points with five assists.
"It was coming pretty easily," Gordon said. "I was taking my shots in rhythm."
Rookie Tyrus Thomas struggled through three quarters before blocking a Matt Bonner dunk and running the floor to dunk at the other end. He awoke for 11 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
Asked the difference between playing with countrymen Ginobili and Oberto instead of against them, Nocioni smiled.
"Now I need to think, `No pass the ball to Manu,'" he said.
The rim shot was optional.
Michael Sweetney didn't play again. . . . Friday's game will be broadcast on the team's new flagship station, WCKG-FM 105.9. . . . Former Bull Jared Reiner is in the Spurs camp. . . . Skiles went ballistic when Tim Duncan didn't get called for traveling after rolling through the lane midway through the first quarter. After Skiles drew his first technical, Duncan visited him and both laughed. . . . Josh Howard is the latest member of the 2003 draft class to get extended, signing a four-year deal with Dallas. With 11 days left until deadline, there remains little progress in talks for Hinrich. . . . One day after needing six stitches to close a cut in his mouth, Hinrich barely avoided a battery falling on his head after a Robert Horry carom dislodged it.
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