The San Antonio Spurs gave point guard Tony Parker a four-year, $50 million extension today, their second mistake with a contract extension in the past year (they gave Manu Ginobili, who is 33, a three-year extension worth $38.9 million last seas0n).
The San Antonio Spurs will pay Parker, Tim Duncan, Antonio McDyess, Ginobili, and Richard Jefferson $61.7 million next season and they’ll all be over 30 by season’s end. The Boston Celtics extended Rajon Rondo for five years, $55 million. George Hill, the Spurs’ best point guard, will make $1.1 million this season and $2 million next year. Parker will make $13.5 million this season and somewhere close to $12.5 million next year. Parker is a one trick pony that relies on his quickness to score, he will be 29 in may and has a long history of injuries.
One has to wonder what the Spurs are thinking. They are clearly on the way down but they continue to extend their aging, past-their-prime, stars. You can make an argument for Ginobili, but Parker’s deal simply makes no sense. His only attribute is getting into the paint and his speed took a hit last season, and at 28, he’s not going to get any faster. Parker is a career 31% shooter from three and is a below average to bad shooter from 10-23 feet. Parker had a career high in turnover ratio last season and has always been an unwilling and poor passer.
Parker is no longer a necessity for the Spurs. Parker saw a major decline last season as he averaged his lowest points per game since 2004, likely because he lost most of the quickness that made him unstoppable when going to the rim. Now, he’s a speedy point guard that has lost most of his speed and he’s a bad perimeter shooter. On top of that, defensively, Parker is subpar at best and he’s not in the same area code as Ginobili as a passer.
Part of the reason losing Parker wouldn’t have been the end of the world for the Spurs is the emergence of George Hill. Hill can play the point guard position with Ginobili at the two, providing a nice interchangeable dynamic in the backcourt for San Antonio. Unlike Parker, Hill is a knockdown shooter from long-range, converting spot-up three pointers at a 44% clip last season, and is a great defender at the other end, even against bigger two guards. Hill reminds me a bit of Bruce Bowen. He’s not nearly as good defensively, but he gives it his all on that end and he’s a fantastic shooter from the corners, which is a shot the Spurs love to rely on.
Hill bursting onto the scene gives the Spurs a dynamic and extremely efficient guard to play alongside of Ginobili and thanks to the draft they also have a good rookie in James Anderson to assume the duties that Ginobili had as the sixth man. Hill’s play also made the signing of Richard Jefferson very questionable. Jefferson was a disaster in his first year with a Spurs. His athleticism, which he relied on heavily, wained and he was a 36% spot-up shooter. On defense, he was even worse, often out of position or disinterested. Gregg Popavich never seemed to like Jefferson last season and it seemed like a miracle when he agreed to forfeit the second year of his deal to test the market. But instead of taking the cap space and using it on a valuable asset, the Spurs resigned Jefferson until 2014 on a deal worth close to $40 million.
This is the third questionable signing that the Spurs have made in the past calendar year. This is likely the Spurs’ the front office trying to do too much, which has a nasty side effect. Even with these deals, the Spurs aren’t as good as the Lakers or Thunder. And with all of these long-term deals, San Antonio has hand cuffed themselves and they will be stuck with the likes of Jefferson, Ginobili and Parker until they are well into their 30′s. Following this current trend, don’t be surprised if Tim Duncan starts off next season with a brand new $60 million deal. Why not keep a group of aging stars together in a conference filled with young and up-and-coming teams ready to unseat the franchises that just can’t put the past behind them?