SAN ANTONIO — Tony Parker swore he didn’t want to leave the Spurs, and he has a new contract to finally prove it.
The Spurs signed Parker to a multiyear extension Saturday that preserves their three-time NBA champion core of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and the star point guard, and puts an abrupt end to what would’ve undoubtedly been a season of speculation.
The extension is for $50 million over four years, according to Parker’s website.
Rumors swirled over the summer about where the 28-year-old former All-Star might end up after this season, but Parker has insisted that he and his wife, actress Eva Longoria Parker, wanted to remain in San Antonio.
“I didn’t mind playing through the year and be a free agent," Parker said. “But it was my first option and for my wife was to stay in San Antonio."
The French star entered his 10th season saying this was likely the Big Three’s last chance at a fourth championship together because of Duncan’s age. Duncan will be 35 when the playoffs begin, and the final year of his contract is threatened by a potential lockout next season.
But Parker, who was beset by injuries during an underperforming season a year ago, now appears firmly invested in a possible post-Duncan future.
The Spurs are also looking ahead: Parker’s contract marks their third big extension since April, when Ginobili signed on for three more years, followed by swingman Richard Jefferson restructuring a new four-year deal over the summer.
“He’s a character guy," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “And I just don’t know what else to say about him and it’s reflected in the extension that we gave him. That’s how we feel about him."
Parker has spent his entire career in San Antonio, joining the Spurs at 19. Popovich put him in the starting lineup after just five games, and the next year, he helped lead the Spurs to their first of three NBA titles in five seasons.
Parker has averaged 16.6 points and 5.7 assists for his career. He is two seasons removed from averaging 22 points in 2008-09, when he appeared poised to supplant Duncan as the leading scorer.
But foot injuries and a broken hand last season derailed him. While Parker’s numbers fell off, Ginobili’s own durability concerns kept the Spurs from offering the Argentine an extension until he proved he could still produce and stay healthy at 32 years old.
But the Spurs believe Parker might still have his best years in front of him.
“Age-wise everybody would say that’s about a peak age," Popovich said.
Parker spoke with Ginobili at length about how he handled his then-expiring deal last season, when Ginobili admitted to being bothered by the Spurs’ hesitation. But Parker said Saturday their situations are different because Ginobili was never fully healthy for two years.
He then said it didn’t matter. They’re all sticking around now, anyway.
“It’s home here," Parker said. “I love being with Pop. I love being with Timmy and Manu. I’m happy to keep the adventure going with them." - AP