When draft day hit and it was announced the San Antonio Spurs had made a trade, it was not Tony Parker who was traded, but backup point guard George Hill. This could turn out to be a blessing for them.
When the season starts, it will be 29-year-old Tony Parker still leading a team with their future in question. The three core players have played together since the 2002-03 season, and for them this could be a last-chance run for another title.
If they don't succeed this year, Tony Parker will be the biggest key to the franchise's future. He is a player in the latter stages of his prime years, but he has proven over the years to be a great player and an even better on-court leader.
This not only talks about why he is still in a Spurs uniform, but what his future holds as well.
Lets get started.
Believe it or not the Dallas Mavericks could easily be the biggest reason to keep Tony Parker.
Dallas proved in the NBA age can be considered just a number. While Tony Parker isn't 30 yet, every other routine starter last year was for San Antonio.
The veteran Mavs came together to put on an impressive run to win an NBA championship. While many thought the injury-riddled Portland Trail Blazers would be able to knock off Dallas, they not only beat those odds, but destroyed the heavily favored Lakers in four games. They also defied odds once again by completing their journey, upsetting the big three of the Miami Heat.
So why wouldn't the older Spurs team give a championship run one more chance? This is a team that has plenty of championship experience after all.
Don't forget, although the Spurs were bounced by a hungry Grizzlies team in the first round, they did manage to snag the No. 1 seed in the West. So they are by no means done.
George Hill played a major role in helping the Spurs secure a number one seed, but in all honesty, he is replaceable.
While being a great talent, there are numerous good point guards that come into the league every year, but rarely one that is capable of running a championship team. Hill does not fit this category.
Hill would be a good point guard in the NBA, but a lot of signs point to him becoming a shooting guard in the near future. He is an above average shooter from long range, and takes good care of the ball, but the Pacers have a point guard currently that they have a lot of hope for in Darren Collision. So with Collision eating up minutes at the point, look for Hill to do what he does best, score.
Hill can play a big role in helping a Pacers team with a lot of heart succeed, but when it comes down to it, he can't be an elite point guard.
As the draft went on and Kawhi Leonard slipped down the board, and he became a steal for the Spurs.
While Richard Jefferson, 31, is locked in for a few more years, he has shown significant signs of decline.
Averaging just 11 points per game last season, he had his lowest total since his rookie season, along with lackluster supporting numbers. He doesn't have the defensive ability to guard some of the elite forwards in the league, however, he did improve his three-point shooting to a career high 44 percent.
The best wingman in the draft, Leonard has a ton of potential to fill the void the Spurs had at the small forward position last year. He brings defensive ability and a lot of athleticism, two things the Spurs lacked during their long run.
Leonard can provide a lot of minutes that the veteran Spurs need him to fill, and could turn out to be a key player in the franchise's future. While many doubt his ability to be a star, a defensive presence is welcome on any team.
Tony Parker recently made some bold statements about the Spurs possibly being finished contending, and while backing off his comments, that might have been just what his team needed to hear.
The reality is this team doesn't have many contending years left, and if they want to add another ring to their collections they have to come out with some passion. They have the experience to make it through tough times, but with many teams like Oklahoma City and Memphis blossoming, the Spurs window of opportunity is closing fast.
Although Tim Duncan found his way onto the Western All-Star team, he also showed steady signs of decline, averaging a career low in points and rebounds. If he wants to remain effective, Duncan will have to have some help around him so he can lower his minutes per game to be fresh for the playoffs.
Manu Gininobili might be one of the only players to not need a spark. He had one of his better years last year at age 33, and showed no evidence of slowing down. If his fast-paced playing style will catch up to him is still in the air for next year.
Tony Parker is a smart player on the court and has never been negatively vocal off the court, so when he does say something out of the ordinary chances are it is for a reason. Let's see if comments and motivation like this can be the sparks the Spurs need to compete.
If for some reason the Spurs aren't in a good position heading towards the All-Star break, don't be surprised to see Parker traded. If they slip out of the top four in the West early on it could spell chaos for San Antonio, and maybe a sign they need to rebuild.
Parker's name came up in a lot of trade scenarios towards the draft, but none of them made too much sense based on the talent pool in the draft. His future in San Antonio isn't certain if the right situation comes up.
None of the names outside of the top-three point guard prospects in this year's draft have the potential to fill Parker's shoes, and odds are they couldn't land them in a deal. If he is traded, it will be mid-season to a team willing to take him in to win a championship if not in the offseason.
This year holds a lot of questions for them, including how they will rebuild their future. If Kawhi Leonard shows the potential of an All-Star-caliber player he could be someone they would want to make a building piece. But a defensive specialist isn't necessarily who you want being the face of your franchise.
The Spurs have shown over the last decade they make smart decisions for the most part, and the decision with Parker's future could be crucial for theirs as well.
I truly believe Parker has quality, All-Star years left in the NBA.
The Spurs will be a playoff team, but if they stay healthy and focused they can still compete for one more trophy. If not, look for another early-round exit.
For Tony Parker, however, his future could be the brightest on the team.
It could be difficult for the Knicks to land superstar Chris Paul, so they will explore other valuable options. Steve Nash has also had his name thrown in the mix and is also a very strong possibility.
But in the end, I see Parker starting next year in a New York Knicks uniform, and the San Antonio Spurs starting to rebuild after being one of the best franchises over the last decade.