The idea of the Hornets committing two years and $10 million to Tony Parker struck almost everyone as an overpay. Fortunately, it’s not quite that bad for Charlotte.
Upon further review, the Hornets’ decision to sign Tony Parker to become Kemba Walker’s primary backup is still a bad deal, but it’s not quite as bad as we thought originally. The recent revelation that the second year of Parker’s $10.25 million contract is non-guaranteed is a big plus for the Hornets.
Paying a small point guard who will turn 36 years old next year over $5 million to come off the bench is still a pretty poor investment. The Hornets may not have had a lot of free agents clamoring to come to Charlotte, but there were better options out there. This still doesn’t represent a good contract for Mitch Kupchak and company.
However, the opportunity cost is significantly less now that we’ve learned the second year of the deal is functionally a team option. Charlotte has the ability to waive Parker before July 4th, 2019 without paying the Frenchman any of his 2019-20 salary.
It’s hard to imagine Parker playing well enough this season to earn a second season with the Hornets. He only played 55 games last season and posted a below average PER of 12.7. He’s still able to knife into the lane to make shots at the rim, but his inability to shoot the three ball adequately makes him a below average shooter overall. His defensive play has never been anything other than adequate in his NBA career. At his current age, he is a really poor defender by almost any metric.
None of those statistical trends are likely to suddenly reverse course in his 18th season in the league. Parker being 36 isn’t old in terms of most careers, but it’s well on the downhill of an NBA career. The fact that Parker has played so many minutes due to San Antonio’s extended playoff runs only add to the wear and tear on his small frame. It won’t surprise anyone if his availability and productivity continue to wane this season in Charlotte.
The best the Hornets can hope for is for Parker to form as an adequate backup point guard when Walker is off the floor. That’s a pretty unlikely outcome though. Parker’s recent performance portends a continued dip into the morass of below-average NBA point guards next season. If that happens, Parker’s stay in Charlotte will only last one season.