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It’s almost impossible to picture Tony Parker in any uniform other than that of the San Antonio Spurs.
However, the 36-year-old future Hall of Famer will hit unrestricted free agency this summer.
How would he look in a Cleveland Cavaliers’ uniform?
Parker lost his job as the Spurs’ starting point guard to Dejounte Murray during this season and when it came time for the playoffs, he averaged only 13.3 minutes in a first-round loss to defending champion Golden State.
Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype took a look at Parker’s upcoming free agency and of the four potential landing spots he mentions, the Cavaliers are among them. The others are the Milwaukee Bucks, the Philadelphia 76ers and returning to San Antonio.
Here’s what Urbina had to say about Parker possibly winding up in Cleveland:
Despite the lack of a personal connection to the coaching staff, it’s not difficult to see why the Cleveland Cavaliers could be an interesting landing spot for Parker.
The main talking point regarding Cleveland’s 2018 playoff run, apart from LeBron James’ otherworldly form, has been about how lacking the four-time MVP’s supporting cast has been, particularly the bench.
Running backup point guard, Jordan Clarkson shot 30.1 percent in his first taste of postseason action, while essentially forgetting to do the one thing most floor generals are supposed to excel in: passing.
And the player he was backing up, George Hill, didn’t fare much better, averaging 9.8 points and 2.2 assists per contest in the playoffs.
Obviously, Cleveland could use an upgrade at the 1-spot heading into next season. (Unless LeBron leaves, in which case they’re going to need a whole lot more than that.)
Parker, despite his advanced age, could be a worthwhile gamble. He’s probably no longer at the point in his career where can be an every-game starter, but coming off the bench, he should still be able to do damage, especially with how much attention other teams are forced to pay James. After all, we’re merely two postseasons removed from Parker putting up 15.9 points and 3.1 assists nightly on 52.6 percent shooting for San Antonio over eight 2017 playoff games.
If he can improve upon his post-injury form, there’s no reason to believe Parker can’t do that anymore, at least in a limited role playing for a contender. And considering James’ preference for teaming up with experienced players (which will only be heightened after how the younger Cavs fared in the 2018 playoffs), he may see Parker as a smart addition to the Cleveland’s reserves.
Financially is where this potential union gets a bit tricky. Provided James either opts in to the final year of his deal or re-signs on a longer contract, the Cavaliers are projected to be nearly $20 million over the luxury tax line, meaning they’ll only have either the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.2 million) or the bi-annual exception ($3.3 million) to offer prospective free agents.
They could ask Parker to take part of the former (at his age, it’s doubtful Cleveland will want to give him their entire mid-level exception) or the entirety of the latter to try and entice him into signing.
Whether that’s enough to get a deal done remains to be seen, but without a doubt, even a 36-year-old Parker would be an upgrade over some of the bench pieces the Cavs have been forced to use this year.