R.C. Buford: Trading Tony Parker would be crazy

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San Antonio Spurs general manager R.C. Buford and head coach Gregg Popovich have a busy summer ahead of them, as should any front office whose team is swept out of the second round of the NBA playoffs. Point guard Tony Parker? Perhaps not so much.

In his exit interview on Monday, Buford dismissed Tony Parker trade speculation, calling Parker an integral part of the Spurs’ success and attributing such talk to his various ailments this season.

“I think that we would be crazy not to want a player like Tony in our program for a long time,” Buford said. “He’s been a big part of the success we’ve had, not only as an individual but as a part of the team.

“The speculation on Tony is placed outside of our organization, not internally.”

Perhaps making the decision a little easier, Tony Parker said in his exit interview that he is leaning towards skipping the World Championships this summer in favor of preparing for next season. Parker stated that he will meet with Popovich and the Spurs organization and make a decision by next week.

“I’m going to attack next season like a revenge,” Parker said. “I felt like I didn’t play as well as I did in 2009 so I want to come out blazing next year.

“I want to be really good next year so I’m really going to work hard this summer, even more than I did in the past.”

Plantar fasciitis and an assortment of other injuries robbed Tony Parker of his trademark quickness this season, leaving him a shell of the All-NBA point guard he was a year ago. A broken hand afforded him some time for his legs to recover and by the Phoenix Suns series his numbers were nearly back to what the Spurs have come to expect from him.

Tony Parker is an All-Star quality point guard with a reasonable contract who is theoretically in his prime, making him a valuable trade asset. But shouldn’t those reasons make the Spurs want to keep him?

Over at Yahoo Sports, Kelly Dwyer sums it up perfectly:

Trading Tony Parker? It’s worth exploring. Technically, Parker should be in his prime, but his status may have taken a dip with a flat 2009-10. He has a year left on his contract and could be perfect for a veteran team trying to get over the hump offensively, like the Spurs, but the returns would have to be perfect. “The returns” also involve George Hill playing full time point guard, and two seasons in, I just don’t know if he has that in him.

I will never understand the amount of criticism Parker receives from some of the San Antonio fans, but the guy truly is one of the most unique weapons in NBA history. He’s a slight NBA point guard who does not finish above the rim, and yet, his shot chart resembles that of an All-Star big man.

If the San Antonio Spurs are going to trade Tony Parker, it had better be for another All-Star with borderline All-NBA potential. And it would also almost assuredly have to be at a position other than point guard because there are only a handful of point guards in the NBA you would want over a healthy Parker, and Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Steve Nash or Chris Paul are not going anywhere.

And whoever that potential trade partner might be, even if it is a Chris Bosh, you almost have to make sure a starting point guard is included in the deal unless you plan on giving Manu Ginobili those responsibilities for 40+ minutes a night.

Trading Parker for anything less would be a financial move and signal a white flag from the San Antonio Spurs camp, or move for the future. But realistically, Tim Duncan is the window. There is no immediate championship contender beyond him.

More likely the help will come from Tiago Splitter and either the improvement Richard Jefferson or DeJuan Blair makes in their second year in the system, or Jefferson’s expiring contract near the trade deadline.

The moves this summer, they’re not about propping the window open for another decade. Please understand, it’s merely for another year or two–three at tops, if everything falls right.

For all the talk about aging, the Big Three showed enough in the playoffs to believe that simply renovating their supporting cast might be enough. But unless you have the best player on the planet (which Tim Duncan use to be), you need that third star. For the Spurs, that’s Tony Parker.



  • Tyler

    @ChrisG

    Agreed. We’re spoiled as Spurs fans. Not too say we shouldn’t want or expect more rings, but at the very least we should take a step back and recognize that the organization we all root for has done some things very few franchises will ever do.

    Having said that, I’m ready for the 2010-11 season to start already. It can’t come soon enough.

  • Araz

    Jim,

    I’m speaking based on the idea of the way the Thunder have come to power. I think your right about GM’s wanting to win NOW, but in the Thunder’s case things are different. Their chemistry that is building from such a young aged team is something amazing, and Harden as the 4th most important piece of that puzzle. Yes, it is not for sure how good Harden will be, but what is for sure is that Manu is on the backside of the hill and Harden hasn’t even gotten to the slope of his hill. Manu will not be able to give them much more than Harden is right now (aside from character and leadership- which Durant and Russle are developing). If they went through with the deal their shooting guard of the future will be gone, and they will only be a lock in that position for the next two years instead of the next ten.

  • Jim Henderson

    Araz
    May 18th, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    “Their chemistry that is building from such a young aged team is something amazing, and Harden as the 4th most important piece of that puzzle.”

    Actually, I would rate Ibaka & Thabo ahead of Harden in terms of importance to that team at this time. So Harden would be the 6th most important piece. Manu would be their 3rd, for sure. Harden “could” move up the list, but simply don’t know yet.

    “Manu will not be able to give them much more than Harden is right now (aside from character and leadership- which Durant and Russle are developing).”

    Manu has a much more balanced, all-around game than Harden, and that is likely to continue for at least a few years. In addition, the leadership and experience Manu would be worth its weight in gold to a young Thunder team. As I said, the Thunder are imbalanced on the side of youth. They have another very talented guard, Maynor, that needs some playing time. They can afford to let Harden go for a guy like Manu. It’s not like Manu’s on his death-bed yet. Come on. He would give that team a very “real” chance at a title in the next two years, particularly if Ibaka develops as expected. Really, I have no idea why you can’t see this.

    “If they went through with the deal their shooting guard of the future will be gone, and they will only be a lock in that position for the next two years instead of the next ten.”

    It would be a lock at that position for three years, not two. Plus, you’re short-changing Sefolosha. They don’t need a big scorer/shooter out of that SG position (Durant, Green, Westbrook, Ibaka are their scorers of the future), and Thabo is “big” for his position, and plays excellent “D”. Manu gives them a slasher at the SG position, a play maker, and a leader. They’ve got three years to find a role player to enter the rotation with Westbrook, Thabo, & Maynor when Manu leaves. Its perfect, I must say.

  • Araz

    There’s really no point in arguing with you, because you’re always right. You’re only looking at this from your point of view, which is fine, but it really doesn’t matter because this trade isn’t gonna happen. Both teams are attatched to the players being traded in different ways… the Thunder in the process of becoming great for a loonnnggg time (because of their youth and chemistry) … and the Spurs nation love for their Argentinian superstar. I was trying to point out the semi-one-sidedness of the deal to you, but obviously there’s no sense to what I’m saying.

  • Jim Henderson

    Araz
    May 18th, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    I’m just making what I think is a strong case for a deal with OKC. I think it helps both sides. For one side it helps more short term, for the other side it helps more long-term, and it doesn’t hurt either side too much long or short term. Apparently you think that the deal is one-sided in favor of the Spurs. As I’m sure you’re aware, there are actually more comments on this site that think the deal is one-sided in favor of OKC. That right there should tell you that the deal has potential for both teams. Maybe you’re right in saying that the deal will never happen. All I can say is that, in my view, the GM’s from both of these teams would be making a mistake to not seriously consider a trade of this nature if they each have BOTH the short & long term interests of their respective franchise’s in mind.