The trio that brought a trio of titles to San Antonio could be split up.
Tony Parker has spent the entirety of his 10-year NBA career in San Antonio, but the Spurs are rumored to be considering a trade involving Parker for a lottery pick in tonight’s NBA Draft. San Antonio has reportedly talked to the Toronto Raptors and Sacramento Kings about their interest in Parker. The Raptors, who have the draft’s No. 5 pick, used Jose Calderon, who averaged 9.8 points and 8.9 assists per game last season, at point guard for most of their games. The Kings used two point guards in their lineup — Beno Udrih and 2010 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans.
Last season, the Spurs were cruising for the majority of the regular season, boasting a 57-13 record in late March, but imploded down the stretch. San Antonio lost eight of their final 12 contests and could not right the ship in time for the postseason as the Spurs fell in the first round of the playoffs to the Memphis Grizzlies in six games.
It’s no secret that the Spurs’ championship window has been closing. Their top three scorers — Manu Ginobili, Parker and Tim Duncan — have combined to play more than 80,000 minutes during their respective careers (nearly 10,000 if you include playoff minutes). While many of those minutes were spent keeping their string of consecutive 50-win seasons intact (a streak that’s at 12 and counting) and others were spent securing titles in 2003, 2005 and 2007, the Spurs might be looking to get a little younger.
Such a move could make sense for San Antonio. Recent acquisitions of young players have paid off. DeJuan Blair, 22, has been a menacing post presence since being drafted by the Spurs in 2009. George Hill, 25, was San Antonio’s top scorer not named Ginobili, Parker or Duncan last season and would take over for Parker if he was traded.
Gary Neal, 26, scored 9.8 points per game in his rookie year and provided the Spurs’ proudest playoff moment when he hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to force overtime in San Antonio’s eventual Game 2 win over Memphis.
Parker earned Finals MVP honors from San Antonio’s most recent championship campaign, but could find himself playing in a different country if the Spurs’ attempts to trade him are successful. Gregg Popovich would still be strolling the Spurs sideline. Duncan and Ginobili would still be there.
Hill would step in as the starting point guard. But a Spurs lineup without Parker would drastically change the dynamic of how they play.
San Antonio would lose their electrifying floor general who gets to the basket like defenders are escorting him there.
More importantly, they would be taking the first steps toward ushering in a new era of Spurs basketball. As hard as it might be for San Antonio fans to admit, it would be an admission that their championship window is closing or, even worse, has closed. But it also means that the Spurs front office is ensuring that while one window is closing, another one will open.