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All Peja Stojakovic wants is a pain free season

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Last season, Peja Stojakovic missed 20 games due to a lingering back issue. The year before 21. Those two years his field goal percentage dropped 40 points from what it had been three years ago, from three (his specialty) the percentage dropped 60 points.

Now, at age 33, he told what happens next depends on his health.

“This is my 13th season, so I can say that I really want to go through this year pain-free,” Stojakovic said. “Next year I’m going to be 34, so I will sit down and make a decision on my next move in life, whether I am going to continue to play, which I would love to under one condition: that I’m healthy and that I feel physically right to continue.”

Is it possible, then, that this might be his last season in the league? “I don’t want to think about it,” he said. “It’s very hard for any athlete to think about that. I’m just approaching this year as another year in the NBA. I know that as the year goes by, you take hits on your body and you’ve got to accept that and make adjustments and roll with it.”

The last time Stojakovic was injury free was the 07-08 campaign, when he shot 44 percent from three — and the Hornets went to the playoffs looking like an up-and-coming team. Now it looks like a team that wants to rebuild.

Stojakovic’s name will come up in trades to rebuild the Hornets — he makes $14.2 million as an expiring contract. That’s a big chip for teams desperate to drop payroll, and could be used by the Hornets to bring back pieces that will keep Chris Paul happy. You can bet Del Demps will be shopping him.

How much interest there is in him will be partially determined by his health. It always seems to come back to that. Stojakovic would see his role change to coming off the bench, his minutes could drop again.

Next season Stojakovic will be 34. He could return to Europe (he played professionally in Greece before coming to the Kings in 1996) or maybe find an NBA team where he is the designated shooter off the bench. Either way, he said he does not want to quit playing.

“I’m looking forward to playing a couple more years. I really want to be out there, because I still enjoy the game. Hopefully I’m going to be allowed to do it, health-wise.”

Tony Parker wants to play six more seasons with Spurs

Tony Parker
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Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.

Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.

Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”

That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)

Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.

But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.

I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.

Report: Pelicans signing Greg Smith

Greg Smith
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The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.

Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.

Enter Greg Smith.

Scott Kushner of The Advocate:

Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.

But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.

Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.