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Tony Parker says he 'will retire as a Spurs player' when career is through

For the first time since 2000-01, the San Antonio Spurs will start their season without guard Tony Parker on the roster. The six-time All-Star and former Finals MVP moved on from the only NBA city he had known this summer, joining the Charlotte Hornets as a free agent. There seemed to be no hard feelings on either side over that parting and, once his career is over, Parker plans to return to San Antonio at least one last time.

In an interview with the Chinese web site HUPU, Parker made it clear he plans to retire with the Spurs when his playing days are through. Jeff Garcia of has more:

Is it possible that you will retire as a Spurs player in the future?

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

And Parker doesn’t rule out going back to the team that launched his pro career.

Do you still have the possibility to return to the Spurs?

Parker: I will never say impossible. Now I have signed a two-year contract with the Hornets, and no one will know about the future.

Parker signed a 2-year deal with the Hornets and will rejoin former Spurs coach James Borrego who is the new head coach in Charlotte.

But San Antonio will always be in his heart.

Parker: I always love San Antonio and the Spurs.

Parker is expected to backup All-Star guard Kemba Walker — who is entering his final year of his contract — in Charlotte.

Parker hoped to make it an even 20 seasons with the Spurs, which would have required the team to re-sign him for three years. Parker willingly gave up his starting role to youngster Dejounte Murray last season.

In his final season with the Spurs, Parker played 55 games averaged 7.7 points and 3.5 assists. During his career, the six-time All-Star averaged 15.8 points and 5.7 assists. He was part of 137 playoff wins with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, the second most by any coach and player in NBA history. Popovich and Spurs star Tim Duncan combined for 157 playoff wins.

Parker was part of the Spurs’ Big Three with Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Duncan has retired, Parker is now gone and Ginobili’s status for next season remains unknown.

Parker has also appeared in 17 consecutive postseasons; only Karl Malone and John Stockton’s run of 19 straight playoff trips are longer.

The move reunites Parker with new Charlotte coach James Borrego, who most recently was an assistant in San Antonio. And Parker is close friends with Charlotte’s Nicolas Batum, who predictably was thrilled by the news.

”Number 9, I see you soon in Buzz City my big bro,” Batum wrote on Twitter.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.