The San Antonio Spurs look less recognisable by the day.
Not only is the franchise embroiled in an messy relationship with its star player, Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio are now losing one of the pillars of their prolonged dynasty with Tony Parker agreeing to a two-year, $10 million deal with the Charlotte Hornets.
The 36-year-old Parker has spent his entire career with the Spurs, helping the team win four titles during his 17-year run.
He’s only the third player in NBA history to leave a franchise after playing at least 17 seasons, joining Karl Malone and Hakeem Olajuwon.
“It’s difficult to put into words how important Tony Parker has been to the Spurs franchise over the past two decades,” coach Gregg Popovich said in a statement. “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.”
With Duncan now retired and Ginobili about to turn 41, the Spurs, as the NBA world has known them for the past two decades, are fading.
An era of dominance feels like it’s coming to an end and the Leonard situation hasn’t helped matters with the star that was expected to take the torch now disgruntled and wanting out.
This past season marked the first time the Spurs missed the playoffs since 1997, and if Leonard is traded away this summer, San Antonio may end up missing the postseason again while competing in a loaded Western Conference.
In Charlotte, Parker will join fellow Frenchman Nicolas Batum and likely come off the bench as the back-up point guard.
Parker averaged a career-low 7.7 points in just 19.5 minutes per game this past season, while playing just 21 games.
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