Age and wear-and-tear caught up to Tony Parker in the 2016-2017 season.
Playing in 63 regular-season games, the 35-year-old point guard averaged 10.1 points (his lowest since his rookie year in 2001-2002), 1.8 rebounds (the lowest of his career) and 4.5 assists (the lowest since his rookie year) per game for the San Antonio Spurs.
He has played all 16 seasons of his career for the Spurs, where he has been a main contributor in the NBA dynasty over the last decade-and-a-half.
Parker suffered a torn left quadriceps in San Antonio’s playoff series against the Rockets, and while the recovery will be tough, Parker is not only determined to get back on the court next season, but also has lofty goals for himself moving forward after next year as well.
Via News 4 San Antonio, Parker said the following in an interview with French publication RMC:
"I hope that the Spurs will offer me a final contract. I will be entering my final contract year, it will be the first time in my career that I will be free agent. I've already said it several times, I want to play three more seasons, do the 20 seasons with the Spurs, and I think it's two decades. I want to continue to perform well on the floor.”
He added that he views the recovery as more of a mental one than a physical one.
"Mentally, you must be strong to come back from an injury like this. I do not want people to think it was my last game, that I was not going to come back, because in my head, I will come back,” he said.
If he is able to return at some point next season, Parker’s role as a starter might not be secured. It remains to be seen what happens with Patty Mills (who assumed the starting role when Parker went down) since he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Dejounte Murray, who performed well in spurts during his rookie season, also could take Parker’s spot in the starting five.
Chris Paul has also been rumored to have some interest in joining the Spurs, which would be one of the blockbuster moves of the free agency period if it happens.
Therefore, Parker’s days might be over as a starter in San Antonio, but as seen before, Gregg Popovich and the Spurs have honored their aging veterans properly, and it’s safe to assume that due to Parker’s public friendship with his coach and the mutual fondness between him and the Spurs organization, he will get his wish and be able to live out the rest of his career in San Antonio.