2018 Free Agency
Reports: Tony Parker era ends in San Antonio as point guard decides to join Charlotte Hornets
From NBA Twitter and media reports
Tony Parker, who spent his entire 17-year career with the San Antonio Spurs, has decided to sign a contract with the Charlotte Hornets, according to Yahoo! Sports Shams Charania (via Twitter).
Tony Parker has agreed to sign with Charlotte, league sources tell Yahoo.
The 35-year-old point guard, who won four NBA titles with the Spurs, is expected to backup Kemba Walker, who is entering his final year of his contract.
Tony Parker has agreed to a two-year, $10M deal with Charlotte, league source tells ESPN.
Source: Parker called Gregg Popovich in the last hour to inform him of decision to accept Charlotte offer. Spurs wanted Parker back, but Parker will take on a significant role with Hornets behind Kemba Walker.
The only coach Parker has only known during his career, Gregg Popovich, later released a statement on the impact the point guard had on the franchise.
“It’s difficult to put into words how important Tony Parker has been to the Spurs franchise over the past two decades,” Popovich said. “From his first game in 2001 at age 19, TP has impressed and inspired us – day-after-day, game-after-game, season-after-season – with his passion, dedication and desire. We are grateful to Tony for 17 years of truly amazing memories. While the four championships, six All-Star appearances and four All-NBA selections highlight his resume, the biggest joy for me has been to have the pleasure of watching TP grow up before our eyes. All of us in the Spurs organization will miss having Tony in our program and wish him and his family the best as he continues his remarkable career in Charlotte.”
Parker’s departure to Charlotte, could help the Spurs, which is trying to repair their relationship with 2014 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.
In March, a frustrated Parker told the media that his injury was “a hundred times worse” than Leonard’s. And per Wojnarowski’s report, that was that with Leonard and the Spurs.
According to Wojnarowski, Leonard was upset with Parker’s comments about Leonard’s injury, where he missed most of last season coping with a quad injury.
“The last straw for him, I was told, was when Tony Parker made those comments about ‘my quad injury was 100 times worse.’ And if you remember, shortly after, Kawhi Leonard left San Antonio and didn’t want to be a part of that media glare there, and did not come back until the season was over with.”
The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears caught up with Parker on Friday, who wanted to clarify his position on Leonard (via Twitter).
Ex-Spurs guard Tony Parker told ESPN’s The Undefeated on Kawhi Leonard: “I never had a chance to talk to him. He’s been in New York. I went overseas after the playoffs. That is a conversation you have face to face. I have no problems with Kawhi.”
Parker hoped to make it an even 20 seasons with the Spurs, which would require 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 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 is 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.
It has been an offseason like no other for the Spurs. Popovich himself has endured plenty at season’s end, as he grieved the death of his wife, Erin, who died in April after battling a prolonged illness. He did not coach in Games 3, 4 or 5 (Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina handled those duties) vs. Golden State. Popovich has coached the team since 1997-98 and is the longest-tenured coach in the NBA. He will also be coaching Team USA before the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.