As they are wont to do, the Spurs made things real easy.
The Spurs signed Parker to a multi-year contract extension on Friday, ensuring that the six-time All-Star point guard will be in the fold whether Duncan and Ginobili are able to continue their careers or not. The Spurs did not disclose the deal, but Yahoo! Sports first reported that it was a three-year extension worth $43.3 million that will kick in in 2015.
''So happy,'' Parker told the San Antonio Express-News. ''Spurs for life!''
Parker has spent all of his 13 NBA seasons with the Spurs, blossoming from an erratic 19-year-old from France into one of the elite point guards in the game. He has helped the Spurs win four of their five NBA titles, the last one coming in June with a dominating victory over the defending champion Miami Heat.
Parker turned 32 in May, but has shown little sign of slowing down. He averaged 16.7 points and 5.7 assists in 29 minutes per game last season and still thrives by changing speeds to keep defenders off balance. The lightning quickness that got him noticed by the Spurs before he was drafted in 2002 is still there, and he can still blow by defenders at the top of the key to get into the paint for a floater or stop on a dime for one of the best pull-up jumpers in the league.
Duncan will turn 39 next season and Ginobili just turned 38, seemingly putting their careers much closer to the end than Parker's. But coach Gregg Popovich has done a masterful job of managing minutes and keeping the wear and tear on them to a minimum, so there really is no telling how long this championship-drenched trio can stick together.
Duncan opted in to the final year of his deal earlier this summer and Ginobili made the difficult decision to pull out of the FIBA World Cup so he could rest a stress fracture in his leg and be ready for training camp next season. Popovich signed a contract extension and the Spurs brought back Boris Diaw, Patty Mills and Matt Bonner to try to do just about the only thing this remarkably enduring franchise has yet to do - repeat as champions.
Parker was set to enter next season on the final year of his contract at the bargain price of $12.5 million. But taking less money to keep the core together is something the Spurs' stars have been doing for years, so it's no surprise that the Spurs were able to retain Parker with a quiet negotiation and easy agreement on a deal that will take him through 2017-18.
With all the work the Spurs have done this offseason, there still is one big thing that needs to be addressed.
NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard is eligible for an extension on his rookie deal, and Popovich has already dubbed him the player who will take over the franchise when Duncan finally decides to retire.
There is plenty of time to address that issue. The Spurs have until Oct. 31 to sign Leonard to a new deal.
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