Pregame: Hamed Haddadi happy in Phoenix, Pop is awesome

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PHOENIX — Hamed Haddadi will be inactive for the Phoenix Suns’ game on Sunday as he tries to get back into shape. After going through a practice that interim coach Lindsey Hunter called a “really, really intense, up-tempo practice,” the Iranian big man was admittedly out of basketball shape.

“I’m not ready yet,” Haddadi said. “I was working out in LA, but basketball stuff is different. I need more time to get in better shape.”

He is, however, happy to be in Phoenix. Struggling with visa issues after being traded from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Toronto Raptors as part of the Rudy Gay blockbuster, the 27-year-old said that the large Persian community in the Valley of the Sun has made him feel at home already.

“It’s tough when you’re sitting at your house, watching TV,” Haddadi said. “You’re thinking about like, ‘ … I was just waiting for the call. After a tough week, tough two weeks, I was just waiting for my visa. (It was not working trying) to get to Toronto.

“Phoenix is one of my favorite cities so far,” he added. “And there are a lot of Persians here, too. I get a lot of messages, comments, they wish me good luck. They support me, so I’m happy to be here.”

Pop is Pop

Having never seen a Gregg Popovich interview outside of TNT game quarter breaks, it wasn’t surprising to see how short the Spurs head coach was even to media members that — I assume — he knows. It was still hard not to appreciate his bluntness.

Popovich said Tony Parker (triceps) and Gary Neal (calf) are out of Sunday night’s game, but San Antonio is not holding them out because they are taking Phoenix lightly — of course they won’t admit to such.

“I pretty much depend on (the Spurs’) character to motivate them,” Popovich said. “If we lose tonight, it will be because Phoenix played better. It will not be because we looked past them.”

As DBreezy pointed out in the game preview, it’s a wonder why Popovich is resting Parker tonight. The point guard’s injury occurred two games ago, against the Los Angeles Clippers, but Parker played against the Golden State Warriors on Friday.

The decision to hold Parker out is apparently because the Spurs didn’t know how much the injury was bothering him. Parker scored 18 points against the Warriors, but Popovich said they didn’t realize Parker was hurting until he stopped shooting as the game hit the fourth quarter and went into overtime.

“I wish I would have sat him in that game,” Popovich said, “but that is why we are definitely sitting him tonight.”

Or, you can believe that Pop is just being Pop.

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Tags: Tony Parker Injury

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