Tony Parker Says He's No Longer Spurs' Starting PG; Benched for Dejounte Murray

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2018

SAN ANTONIO,TX - JANUARY 21 :  Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs brings the ball downcourt against the Indiana Pacers at AT&T Center on January 21, 2018  in San Antonio, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker came off the bench for the first time all season Sunday, and it appears this will be a permanent change to the lineup.

Head coach Gregg Popovich made the decision to move Dejounte Murray to the starting lineup full time, as Parker explained after the game, via Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News:

"Pop told me. He told me he thought it was time, and I was like, 'No problem.' Just like Manu (Ginobili), just like Pau (Gasol), you know that day is going to come. If Pop sees something that is good for the team, I will try to do my best...I will support Pop's decision, and I will try to help DJ as best as I can and try to be the best I can in that second unit with Manu and Patty (Mills)."

Parker finished with 12 points in 20 minutes off the bench in a 94-86 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

The 35-year-old is a six-time All-Star but hasn't had the same level of production in recent years. In 21 games, he is currently averaging 8.0 points and 4.0 assists per game, both of which would be a career low for a full season.

Even as his level of play has declined, Parker has remained a fixture in the starting lineup, starting every game he has played since the 2010-11 season until Sunday. He only had come off the bench 13 times in his previous 1,164 career games.

Meanwhile, Murray has split time in the starting lineup with Patty Mills this season while Parker has been unavailable with quad and ankle injuries as well as standard rest. The second-year player is averaging 6.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists this year in just 17.9 minutes per game. He will help to kick-start a Spurs team that has struggled to a 5-6 record so far in January.

The 30-18 squad is still tied for third place in the Western Conference, but with Kawhi Leonard out indefinitely with a quad injury, everyone on the roster will need to step up to keep the team afloat.

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