Well, this is going to be weird. Spurs legend Tony Parker’s tenure in San Antonio has come to a close. The point guard reportedly agreed to a two-year, $10 million contract with the Hornets on Friday, according to multiple reports. Parker, 36, played in 55 games for the Spurs last season, mostly playing off the bench for the first time in his career. He averaged a career-low 7.7 points and 3.5 assists in 19.5 minutes per game. Parker told SI earlier this year he was hoping to finish his career in San Antonio after three more seasons. Instead, he’ll be leaving the Spurs in what’s been the strangest offseason for the franchise in years. Let’s grade the deal for Charlotte.
This is an, uh, interesting move for the Hornets. On one hand, their backup point guard last year was Michael Carter-Williams. On the other hand, Parker has had a negative net rating for the Spurs in each of his last five seasons, though last year was the only instance in which the team as a whole had a negative net rating with Parker on court. At this point in his career, Parker is probably more valuable as a veteran presence than as a productive player. (Though it should be noted he may have helped push Kawhi Leonard away from San Antonio.) Parker, at best, will be a slight upgrade over Carter-Williams, and he shouldn’t expect to see a ton of playing time behind Kemba Walker.
The signing does beg the question of the Hornets’ plan. Charlotte seems intent on being respectable next season, but sooner or later, this team will probably need to hit the eject button. In a summer filled with one-year deals, why did Parker get two? The Hornets could have over $90 million in salary commitments next summer, and that’s before a new deal for Kemba Walker. Maybe Charlotte finally lets Kemba walk, but then why give Parker another year? These moves, along with taking on Timofey Mozgov’s salary, invite scrutiny when considered together.
Ultimately, Parker’s signing most likely won’t move the needle much on the court. His strong presence in the locker room could go either way on a team mired in mediocrity. And Charlotte handing a 36-year-old point guard a second year in a buyer’s market is a little baffling. Who knows, maybe with LeBron out of the East the Hornets will be one of the teams that benefit. For now, Parker’s acquisition feels like all splash, very little substance.