San Antonio Spurs: Checking in on last offseason’s free agency departures
Some pivotal San Antonio Spurs players departed last season and now that another Summer has passed, it’s time to check in with familiar faces.
As part of the process of being one of the best organizations in professional sports in the player development department, the San Antonio Spurs oftentimes have to let their homegrown talent walk due to financial restraints. Last summer saw two noteworthy rotation players depart from the Alamo City – Tony Parker and Kyle Anderson.
After growing up and finding his home in San Antonio, Tony Parker decided to leave the organization for the last year of his career while working under his idol, Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan. Parker appeared in 59 games for the Hornets last season without a single start and averaged 9.5 points and 3.7 assists on 46 percent shooting from the field.
Although his on-court impact was minimal, and his shooting percentages left some to be desired – TP9 had the third-lowest effective field goal percentage of his career at 47.4 – his legacy in Charlotte will be that of a mentor and extraordinary teammate. Through all of his battles through multiple championships and almost two decades of the league’s elite, Parker is one of the most memorable floor generals in the history of the sport.
Tony instilled knowledge in the youth of the Hornets while providing a veteran presence in the shadow of All-NBA point guard Kemba Walker, who has since moved on to Boston. Charlotte hasn’t been a continuously successful franchise since the days of Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning, but Parker was helpful in establishing the new culture under former Spurs assistant James Borrego.
This was the final destination of a sure-fire Hall of Fame career for Tony Parker. In his official statement regarding Tony’s decision to retire, Borrego commemorated his player and friend:
“Congratulations to Tony Parker on a hall of fame career. I have never known the NBA without Tony as a part of it and I’ll truly miss him. Tony’s leadership, his presence and his dedication to winning made an impact on shaping me and I’ll always be appreciative of him. I know our organization in Charlotte is grateful for what he brought to us in our year together. I wish him nothing but the best as he moves on to retirement.”
While he hasn’t quite been the same zippy ball handling-savant that we’re used to, Parker left it all on the floor in the late stages of his career and will be remembered for his importance along the way.
Meanwhile, Kyle ‘Slo Mo’ Anderson spent his first season away from the silver and black embracing the next iteration of grit and grind in Memphis. Although he was derailed by a handful of injuries to his ankle and shoulder. The 25-year-old appeared in 43 games and started in all but three of those while putting up career-best averages in points, blocks, assists and rebounds.
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Anderson made 54.3 percent of his field goal attempts for the Grizzlies, but he still hasn’t been able to develop a consistent three-point shot. He made only 26.5 percent of his triples on the season, a 6.8 percent decline from his final season in San Antonio, in addition to a staggering 13.4 percent decline in his free throw percentage.
This could be a byproduct of changing systems and moving from a team that’s shown nearly unwavering consistency and stability over the course of the last two decades. Injury troubles didn’t help, but Anderson still brought the same defensive intensity and astonishing play making capabilities that made him flourish with the Spurs.
Slo Mo made history on January 1 by posting the first triple-double of his young career with 11 points, 10 assists and 11 boards on 5-of-10 shooting from the field in 37 minutes of play. Dueling against a similarly gritty and youthful Brooklyn Nets squad, Anderson showed off his true potential by asserting his dominance on the floor.
With the proper development and recovery from his injury troubles, Anderson will continue to grow as a player while carrying the same principals of the Spurs Way within himself.