On Tuesday Tony Parker was at his youth basketball camp at the Alamo City Sportsplex and took a break to talk about the Spurs upcoming season.
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Parker stated he is still trying to cope from the news of Tim Duncan’s retirement after 19 seasons. Despite the loss of Duncan and an influx of youthful newcomers, Parker believes the Spurs “are still going to have a great team” next season. “Obviously, we are going to miss him a lot,” Parker said of Duncan. “You can’t replace a guy like Timmy. But we will try to do our best to keep the Spurs going and to keep winning.”
Duncan was the staple of the organization. He helped paved the way for the success in San Antonio. He was there when they won their first title in 1999. From that point on, everything else fell into place and Duncan helped San Antonio capture five NBA Titles. “He was the greatest power forward of all time and he made my job easy every night,” Parker said.
Time goes on, and so the Spurs are preparing for their first season in almost two decades without Duncan. We have seen during the offseason, the preparation. San Antonio’s youth movement is beginning. With Duncan now out, Parker (15 seasons), and Manu Ginobili (14 seasons) are the two veterans on the team that will bring leadership to the new crop of talent to San Antonio.
Parker knows his role now as a leader has strengthen with Duncan gone. “I’m just going to try to be a good leader and welcome all the new guys and try to help them as much as I can and just show them the Spurs culture and what we do here,” Parker said.
Parker while taking a break from his coaching at the youth basketball program reflected on not just Duncan but also talked on his good friend Boris Diaw who was traded to the Utah Jazz. “It’s definitely going to be a big change, definitely going to miss them,. It’s definitely going to be a different season next year.”
“It’s definitely going to be a different season next year.” – Tony Parker
With the influx of new talent, Parker though believes they are still destined and have the pieces to continue to be a team that can make noise in the Western Conference. One newcomer that the Spurs were eyeing since the start of free agency was former Chicago Bull Pau Gasol. Maybe a thank you is needed to his brother Marc whom at the end of the 2015-16 season stated that San Antonio would be the best fit for Pau at this point in his career. Parker knows with the addition of Gasol it brings a “great basketball player with a lot of knowledge.”
Last season Gasol averaged a double-double, 16.5 points and 11 rebounds per game. He may not be the most athletic big man, but Parker feels he will be a perfect fit for the team. “I think he’s a perfect fit for our team.”
The system in Chicago may not have been the right fit for Gasol playing behind Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler whom are more uptempo. With San Antonio, Gasol will be able to
Mar 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls center Pau Gasol (16) shoots against the Atlanta Hawks during the second half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
settle in the half-court and not have to force shots. Playing alongside LaMarcus Aldridge will definitely help Gasol’s game, and vice-versa. Gasol will bring more leadership and a veteran attitude to the team and the younger players as well.
Other newcomers that are joining the team this year, 19 year old first round draft pick Dejounte Murray. Murray was picked 29th overall by San Antonio and is coming fresh off of one season at the University of Washington. Parker stated after San Antonio selected Murray, he did talk with the draft pick. “I can’t wait to get to camp and see what he can give us,” Parker said.
Sharpshooting big man Davis Bertans, Dewayne Dedmon and forward Livio Jean-Charles, who played for Parker’s French-owned team are also newcomers and bring athleticism to a team that was completely exposed from the lack-there-of against Oklahoma City.
As it has been seen from teams that have new faces, they tend to struggle. With San Antonio, Parker knows it will take some time for them to jell together but with the knowledge and the amount of veteran leadership on the team, the younger core will have a lot of knowledge at their fingertips.
What has been so impressive about San Antonio over the years is their knack of finding young talent that will come into an organization and simply buy-in to what they are looking to accomplish. How they run things, and knowing their roles. Maybe some bumps along the way, but I feel that this group will come together sooner rather than later.
“I think it’s going to be a lot different because we have a lot of young guys, so it’s going to take us some time for us to jell,” Parker said. “But they are great basketball players and they have some knowledge and they know how to play. Hopefully, they can get it fast and we can have another great season.”