The Charlotte Hornets have a decision from one of their point guards; no, not All-Star free agent Kemba Walker.
Tony Parker, a Hall of Fame lock from his years with the San Antonio Spurs, told The Undefeated web site on Monday that he is retiring after 18 NBA seasons.
Parker said he felt good enough physically to play two more years, but “I was like, if I can’t be Tony Parker anymore and I can’t play for a championship, I don’t want to play basketball anymore.”
Parker’s decision is no surprise. He said following the season he was 50-50 on whether to play next season, and any chance he’d be playing for the Hornets again was contingent on them fielding a roster that would contend for the playoffs. That is far from a given, particularly with Walker’s status in Charlotte undecided.
Parker was under contract to the Hornets next season for $5.25 million, which was not guaranteed. Parker said the Hornets were lobbying him to return for his leadership and mentoring. The Frenchman also would have been an excellent marketing tool, since the Hornets are going to play the first NBA regular-season in Paris in January against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Parker played in 56 games last season, averaging 9.5 poinits and 3.7 assists. He was still excellent in a handful of those appearances.
Hornets first-year coach James Borrego, a former Spurs assistant, recruited Parker last summer to help install a new system, to back up All-Star Kemba Walker, and to mentor young players such as rookie Devonte Graham and second-year guard Malik Monk.
As part of a youth movement late last season, Borrego turned the backup point guard spot over to Graham, a second-round pick out of Kansas. Parker didn’t play in the Hornets’ last 13 games, after a mid-March road loss to the Miami Heat that was a blow to the Hornets’ playoff hopes.