Many people were surprised when Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs decided to part ways this summer. Parker has made huge contributions to the Spurs’ organization, which include helping them win four NBA championship titles. Instead of staying with the Spurs in the recent free agency, the 36-year-old point guard ended up signing a two-year, $10 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets.
In a recent interview with Michael C. Wright of ESPN, Tony Parker talked about his decision to leave the Spurs in the last offseason. Before the 2018 NBA free agency started, Parker revealed that he first had a conversation with Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich in June to discuss his potential role with the team in the 2018-19 NBA season. After Popovich told him that he would spend most of his time mentoring the young guys and sitting on the bench, Parker made up his mind to take his talent to another team.
“Pop just told me that I was going to be the third point guard, and I had to think really hard about if I was going to stay,” Parker said. “So then I told him I’m not gonna stay. I think they really didn’t believe I was gonna leave anyway. I think they thought I’d be like Manu and just stay.”
I asked @tonyparker what was different last night about the @hornets. His diagnosis was spot-on, and no one is better equipped to hold teammates accountable for this to be more than a blip.https://t.co/MSVldARNlu
— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) January 15, 2019
At 36, Tony Parker is aware that he’s already at the near end of his NBA career. However, Parker knows he still has lots of gas left in his tank and could still be a reliable contributor to a team that needed a leader on their second unit. Before he inked a contract with the Hornets, Parker talked to Coach Gregg Popovich for one last time to tell him what his heart desires.
Tony Parker revealed that it became easier for him to leave San Antonio when he learned that his backcourt partner Manu Ginobili was already sure that he would retire. Parker said that playing for the Spurs would never be the same without both Tim Duncan and Ginobili on their roster.
After saying his farewell to Coach Gregg Popovich and the Spurs, Tony Parker called his fellow Frenchman Nicolas Batum to express his desire to play for the Hornets. Batum immediately informed Hornets Head Coach James Borrego about Parker’s plan. Borrego, who served as an assistant coach in San Antonio, didn’t believe at first that Parker would leave the Spurs for the Hornets. Knowing what Parker could contribute to their team, Borrego didn’t think twice before asking the Hornets’ front office to give the veteran point guard an offer.
On Monday night, Tony Parker played against the Spurs for the first time in the 2018-19 NBA season. The Hornets succeeded to end their three-game losing streak with a 108-93 over the Spurs where Parker posted eight points, three rebounds, and four assists on 4-of-12 from the field.