If Tony Parker isn’t content heading into this season, it won’t be because of his job security.
A day after signing a six-year contract extension reportedly worth $66 million, the 22-year-old Frenchman can focus on helping the San Antonio Spurs get back to the NBA Finals as they open the season against the visiting Sacramento Kings.
Parker and the Spurs hammered out a deal late Monday night, within a few hours of the league’s signing deadline. Had an agreement not been reached, Parker would have become a restricted free agent at the end of this season.
“I’m very, very happy. There has been a lot of stress the last couple of days, and I’m just so happy it’s hard to express in words,” said Parker, who is averaging 13.1 points and 5.0 assists per game during his three-year career. “The last two or three days I thought it was finished and was not going to happen.”
The Spurs have now locked up their top three players, having already signed two-time MVP Tim Duncan to a seven-year, $122 million deal last year, and Argentine guard and Olympic gold medalist Manu Ginobili to a six-year pact estimated at $52 million in July.
Once a valuable sixth man, Ginobili will be in the starting lineup at shooting guard because Hedo Turkoglu signed with Orlando in the offseason.
San Antonio won 57 games last season before being eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals. The Spurs won the title the year before.
“We’re going to use 82 games to get where we want to get to, so we’ll progress along the season,” said Duncan, who led the Spurs with 22.3 points and 12.4 rebounds per game last season. “We’ll go through some highs and lows, and we’ll enjoy it.”
The Spurs will be playing in arguably the toughest division in the NBA after moving from the Midwest to the Southwest because of the league’s realignment. They are grouped with Dallas, Houston, Memphis and New Orleans—teams that combined for a winning percentage of .598 (245-165) last season.
One of the top defensive teams in the league last season, the Spurs look as though they have shored up their free-throw and perimeter shooting. San Antonio shot 77 percent from the line during the preseason after finishing 29th in the NBA last year at 68 percent.
They also signed guard Brent Barry, a career 82 percent free-throw shooter and 40-percent shooter from 3-point range.
The Kings are coming off a subpar season opener, losing 107-98 at Dallas on Tuesday.
The Kings, who played two preseason games in China against Houston, are on a three-game trip through Texas and are in the midst of playing five of their first six games on the road. They were 21-20 away from Arco Arena last season, compared to 34-7 at home.
The Spurs are 7-0 in season openers since Duncan came on board in 1997-98.