Getty Images

Tony Parker pushed to Charlotte by role offered, not money

1 Comment

When Tony Parker signed with Charlotte, leaving the San Antonio Spurs after 17 seasons, there was a rumor the Spurs low-balled him on their offer. Which is not exactly how the Spurs treat their veterans, but that was the rumor.

Parker says it’s not true.

Speaking to French publication L’Expresso Parker said the Spurs offered similar money, it was the role that pushed him to Charlotte. (Hat tip NBC News 4 in San Antonio.)

The Spurs offered me the same thing (contractually) as Charlotte, but it was more about the role. It was not a question of money. And it’s important that people know this, because there are a lot of people who were “angry” at the Spurs, thinking the franchise had not offered me anything. Yes, they offered me something similar, but I did not want to finish (as an) assistant-coach. And that was the role they offered me, when I wanted to play…

And when Michael Jordan called me, my idol, I thought, let’s go. For me, I feel like closing the loop, to finish my career in his club, it’s something special for me because it’s him that made me want to play basketball.

For the record, Parker will make $5 million this season and $5.25 million the following season (although that contract is not fully guaranteed until July 4, in case the Hornets need to make a change of direction).

In Charlotte, Parker will come off the bench but get a healthy chunk of minutes behind Kemba Walker. The Spurs have Dejounte Murray and Patty Mills, both of whom are younger and, at this point in time, better than Parker. His role would have been more as veteran mentor, and Parker wasn’t ready to go there yet.

Whether or not Paker someday signs a one-day contract with San Antonio so he can retire a Spur or not, he will always be remembered as one. The same way we don’t remember Patrick Ewing in an Orlando jersey. Parker will forever be a Spur, he’s just wearing teal for a season or two.

Hornets’ Tony Parker says he’ll retire with Spurs

Getty Images
1 Comment

Just four players in NBA history have spent their first 15 seasons with a single franchise then played for another team:

  • Karl Malone (Jazz then Lakers)
  • Hakeem Olajuwon (Rockets then Raptors)
  • Patrick Ewing (Knicks then SuperSonics and Magic)
  • Paul Pierce (Celtics then Nets, Wizards and Clippers)

Tony Parker will join the club. After playing a Hall of Fame-worthy 17 seasons with the Spurs, he signed with the Hornets this summer.

But he still wants his career to end in San Antonio.

Parker in a Q&A through Hupu (as translated via Google):

Is it possible that you will retire as a Spurs player in the future? Just like Paul Pierce. No matter how you wish you all the best in the new season!

A: Yes, I will retire as a Spurs player.

Pierce signed a one-year unguaranteed contract with the Celtics after he finished playing with the Clippers. Then, Boston waived him that same summer. It was purely ceremonial.

Parker doesn’t explicitly say he’ll follow the same course with the Spurs, but that seems most likely. Still, maybe he envisions actually playing for San Antonio after his Charlotte contract ends.

The Spurs have moved onto Dejounte Murray as their starting point guard, but they might welcome Parker to the end of their bench on a minimum contract for one more season. They clearly respect what he has meant to the franchise.

Rudy Gay finally feels 100 percent after torn Achilles: ‘I feel athletic again’

Associated Press
3 Comments

Rudy Gay, coming off a torn Achilles in 2017, was not quite his vintage self last season for the Spurs. In the 57 games he played he looked like a solid third option — 11.5 points per game, a surprisingly good defensive rating — but he played fewer minutes than ever before in his career, and he shot just 31.4 percent from three. In the playoffs he showed his importance — the Spurs were 9 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court — but he was never going to make up for what they lacked with Kawhi Leonard out.

Gay is preparing for his next season in San Antonio and told Tom Osborn of the San Antonio Express-News that he is finally healthy.

Everything is clicking,” he said. “I feel athletic again.”

“I’ve been working hard, man,” Gay said at his boys’ high school basketball showcase for East Coast teams he hosts annually. “I lost about five pounds. Last year was a little bit of a struggle for me, so I tried to alleviate that by taking the weight off my feet by losing a couple of pounds through working out and eating better. It’s now or never right now for me.”

Gay is also close to new Spur DeMar DeRozan, and he sees potential there.

“That’s the thing about this whole team – everybody has a chip on his shoulder,” Gay said. “His is just more publicized. But, look, I’m healthy (and have something to prove), LaMarcus (Aldridge) always finds someway to have a chip on his shoulder. Jakob wants to prove he can be a great player. DJ (Dejounte Murray) has a chip on his shoulder because he wants to be known as one of the best at his position.”

The Spurs won 47 games last season essentially without Leonard, and now they sub an All-NBA player in DeRozan into the mix. If Gay is healthy and can be that third option, if the defense stays tight, if Gregg Popovich can work his magic, this is a dangerous playoff team. Not a contender, but are you going to bet against the Spurs making the playoffs?

Tony Parker with heartfelt ‘thank you’ to San Anontio

Getty Images
1 Comment

Tony Parker is going to be wearing the teal of the Charlotte Hornets next season. And that’s going to be weird. He’s a 17-year San Antonio Spur who won four titles, a Finals MVP, and went to six All-Star Games all in the silver and black of San Antonio.

On his way out the door, Parker published a classy goodbye letter to San Antonio in the Players’ Tribune.

Thank you to the Spurs organization, from top to bottom, for the most amazing opportunity of my life — and for 17 years of the greatest job on earth. Thank you to Spurs fans, everywhere, for always showing up, always being loud, and always, always having my back. And thank you to the city of San Antonio, for being the only thing that I could ever possibly call it now: home.

The truth is, I know it’s impossible to summarize what my time with the Spurs has meant to me, in a letter like this.

But I guess that’s also the beauty of basketball, and of life in a way. How it can become less about the summary of things — and more about a collection of moments. How you just … become these moments, you know what I mean? All of these relationships, and conversations, and lessons, and decisions. All of these little things that just sort of sneak up on you, and begin to shape you, and eventually, if you’re lucky, even come to define you.

It was classy and touching, as one would expect from Parker. He covers his first workouts with the team through his decision last season to tell Gregg Popovich it was time to start Dejounte Murray over him.

He writes about David Robinson, he writes about Manu Ginobili (and wishes he still had the floppy hair of a decade ago), and of course there is a lot of praise for Popovich.

However, the part I found most interesting was the praise of Tim Duncan — not so much the player (although, that too), but for the culture he set that made the Spurs dynasty (five titles and a couple decades of 50-plus win seasons) possible.

Because here’s the thing with Tim Duncan: Was he the greatest player of all time? I don’t know — he’s the greatest I ever played with, I’ll say that, and I’ll let the experts take it from there. But here’s one thing I’ll tell you, absolutely: Timmy was the most coachable great player of all time.

That was always our secret weapon, to me: You see this all-world player, this All-NBA First Team, MVP of the Finals, about to be MVP of the league guy, and here he is in practice, willing to be coached like he’s fighting for a spot on the team. It was unreal. And if you think that’s too passive for a star player to be? Well, then you’re not thinking it through on Tim’s level. Because Tim knew the truth: which was that to let himself be coached in this way, you know … that’s true charisma, and that’s true swagger. It’s like he was challenging everyone else in our gym: The best player in the entire league is willing to put his ego aside for the good of this team — are you?

And that was the deal, you know? Guys would come in, take a look around, and eventually they would do as Tim does.

Plenty of players today could learn from that.

Raptors acquire Kawhi Leonard from Spurs for DeMar DeRozan

22 Comments

UPDATE: It’s official, Kawhi Leonard may want to go purchase a couple really heavy winter coats, because he is headed to Toronto. The deal has been approved by the league and announced by the teams.

After another rough playoff exit at the hands of LeBron James, Raptors’ GM Masai Ujiri wanted to shake things up in Toronto this offseason. To change the culture. To make a push for a ring since the LeBron wall went West. The status quo was no longer good enough for the Toronto decision maker.

He did that in the most dramatic way possible.

In maybe the biggest move of the summer, the Raptors have acquired Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Chris Haynes of ESPN broke the story:

The Toronto Raptors are finalizing a deal to acquire San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard in a trade package that includes All-Star DeMar DeRozan, league sources told ESPN….

Leonard and DeRozan are both aware that an agreement could be imminent, and neither is expressing enthusiasm for the deal, league sources said.

DeRozan basically confirmed the trade before it became official — and his displeasure with it. DeRozan had been loyal to Toronto wanted to go down as the greatest Raptor ever. He embraced that city when others stars had bolted it, In an Instagram story, he vented (the Raptors reportedly told DeRozan during Summer League he would not be traded, despite rumors).

Leonard and DeRozan could not be traded for each other straight up (DeRozan makes $4 million more than Leonard, once Leonard’s trade kicker of $3 million is counted in), in the end the deal looked like this:

On paper, the trade makes sense for both sides. The Raptors take a shot at a ring and winning Leonard over to their team, if that fails and he bolts they start a rebuild (they also didn’t give up young players they really like such as OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam). This is a win for the Raptors.

The Spurs remain competitive for the next two or three years, likely as long as Gregg Popovich will coach, then they will rebuild.

The Spurs did not want to send Leonard to the West and the Lakers, and they wanted a star player who would keep them relevant and in the playoffs as part of the deal. DeRozan does that (while the Lakers and Sixers would not throw in key pieces such as Brandon Ingram or Markelle Fultz). Paired with LaMarcus Aldridge, Dejounte Murray, and the always solid role-playing core with the Spurs, they are in the playoff mix in the middle of a brutal West. DeRozan has two seasons guaranteed at $27.7 million, with a player option for a third season after that.

Leonard is a free agent in the summer of 2019 and can then sign anywhere he wants. That has reportedly been Los Angeles, although in Las Vegas I heard rumors from sources that both the Lakers and Clippers are in play to land him.

The Raptors will have this season to win Leonard over and get him to re-sign — just as Oklahoma City did with Paul George. Toronto is a fantastic city, it has a passionate fan base, and the team is poised to win a lot. Toronto also has more money: with the trade Toronto can offer Leonard a five-year, $189.6 million contract next summer, the most any other team can put on the table is a four-year, $140.6 million offer. Leonard, it should be noted, walked away from a $221 million offer should he have worked things out with the Spurs. George was open to the Oklahoma City experience, will Leonard be in Toronto? (Also, the Raptors can trade him again at the deadline.)

If Leonard is fully healthy — something nobody really knows for sure — the Raptors would be contenders in the East, they have arguably the best player in the conference now (him or Giannis Antetokounmpo). This team is a threat to favorite Boston as well as Philadelphia.