SAN ANTONIO — Tony Parker said that he was feeling no additional pain in his strained hamstring the day after his Spurs suffered a Game 4 loss, but that doesn’t mean that he’s entirely healed.
After practice on Saturday at the AT&T Center, Parker gave us an idea of just how tenuous the situation is.
“My hamstring can tear at anytime now,” Parker said, when asked if a couple of extra days of rest might help him get closer to 100 percent. “If it was the regular season, I would be resting it for like 10 days. But it’s the NBA Finals now. If it gets a tear, that’s life.”
Despite delivering this somewhat ominous news, Parker maintained that he’s feeling better, and that the treatment he’s been receiving has him optimistic about turning in a stronger performance in Game 5 after being limited to 13 minutes in a scoreless second half the last time out.
“I’m getting stronger with it,” he said. “My goal is to be close to 100 percent by [Sunday]. I feel confident, and I’m being disciplined with all the treatments, with the ice right now. Hopefully I’ll be good for tomorrow.”
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has said for three straight days now that his star point guard is “fine,” but the dropoff in production in that second half of the last game says otherwise.
As for whether or not Parker will be able to contribute for the entirety of his minutes on Sunday, he wasn’t willing to speculate on his Game 5 chances.
“I don’t know,” Parker said. “We’ll see tomorrow, I guess, huh?”
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.
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.