Spurs sign Tony Parker to multi-year contract extension
The six-time All-Star and four-time champion was set to enter the final season of a four-year, $50 million contract extension that he signed in 2010. A three-year extension would carry Parker through the 2017-18 season.
The surprise extension adds to an offseason that has been strictly business for the champs. Franchise center Tim Duncan decided to opt in to the final year of his contract, and GM R.C. Buford then re-signed free agents Boris Diaw, Patty Mills and Matt Bonner, ensuring that San Antonio's top 12 players from last season by minutes played will return next year to mount a title defense next year.
GALLERY: TONY PARKER OVER THE YEARS
The San Antonio Express-News reported this week that Parker, who dealt with minor injuries last season, will skip the 2014 FIBA World Cup as a gesture of goodwill to the Spurs and coach Gregg Popovich.
"I think for all those years, being with San Antonio, [Popovich] has always been great with me and the national team," Parker said, according to the paper. "I felt like this was a summer I can give back to the Spurs."
No team turns potentially complex negotiations into simple, by-the-book agreements quite like the Spurs. Because of Parker's recent injury issues, his advancing age, and his modest per-game stats (due to a smaller minutes role than most star players), there existed a possibility that player and team would have significantly different perceptions of his value.
After all, Parker would rightfully view himself as a perennial All-Star, one of the best players at his position, and the face of the Spurs franchise once Tim Duncan retires. Add up those factors and Parker would be within his right to desire a long-term, max contract, the type of deal he could only get by playing out his current contract and becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer. By contrast, a harsh read from San Antonio's perspective might view Parker as a player who is a few years past his statistical prime, who owes some of his success to the Spurs' unique and effective systems, and who was unable to stay healthy during closeout games against the Blazers and Thunder during the 2014 playoffs. A cutthroat approach like that wouldn't have placed the Spurs in the vicinity of a max offer.
Here, the compromise came through an early agreement: Parker took the maximum money allowed on an early extension, even though that amount was significantly less than the max available to him if he had waited until next summer. By agreeing early, Parker no longer needs to worry that ongoing injury concerns might slice into his value, and the Spurs get positional certainty as they chase a second straight title and prepare for the post-Duncan era. As long as Parker's play doesn't unexpectedly fall off a cliff, he should be able to live up to this deal through to its conclusion. Even if age does catch up in the final year of the deal, when Parker will be 36, it's hard to imagine anyone will be complaining too loudly after witnessing such a decorated career spent entirely in a Spurs uniform.