Key Reasons Why Tony Parker Makes the Knicks Championship Contenders This Season
With the 2010-2011 season over, the Knicks and their management are preparing for the 2011-2012 season with more questions than answers. The Knicks thought they were surely going to go deep into the playoffs with the acquisitions of Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.
The team finished an abysmal 42-40 and were swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics. They lost two of their key players due to injuries in that series and fell short of their lofty expectations.
The Knicks management is hoping that the new collective bargaining agreement and salary cap restrictions will not put a damper on their plans for the 2012-2013 NBA season. With high-profile free agents like Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and many other marquee names, it would be hard for the Knicks not to resist going after these players.
Now that the NBA is starting to become a point guard-driven league, the Knicks are now in search of their franchise point guard and a game-changing center to return back to their glory days and really help make a run in the postseason—while still providing enough salary cap space to sign key role players to help create a dynasty.
He Is Battle Tested
Tony Parker has appeared in 138 playoff games for the San Antonio Spurs, helping the team win more than 63 percent of those games. He is a guy who has proven year in and year out that he can help lead a team to an NBA Championship, helping lead the San Antonio Spurs to three NBA titles (2003, 2005 and 2007).
Winning the Finals MVP in 2007 is proof that this guy has done more than his fair share to help lead this team deep into the postseason many times at one of the most valuable positions in the NBA today.
Having three championship rings definitely helps gain respect with guys like Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony in the locker room. This guy flat out knows how to win big games and he could definitely be the missing piece for the Knicks to help push them over the hump.
Ability to Penetrate to the Basket
Tony Parker is going into the 2011-2012 season at 29 years old, so he is still in his prime. This guy is still one of the more explosive guys in the NBA in terms of quickness and speed. He gives the Knicks an element to their offense that they do not currently have, and is a guy who can consistently get to the basket.
Tony Parker's ability to penetrate to the basket will help free up some of the shooters on the Knicks. This is a very underrated asset and his innate ability to penetrate and pass will definitely give Anthony and Stoudemire a lot of free looks, which will help get Carmelo Anthony better quality shots during games.
Let's not forget about the three-point shooters like Toney Douglass, Roger Mason, Andy Rautins, Shawne and Williams. If they all get adequate playing time Parker will help these guys get better quality shots just by drawing defenders. Most players cannot guard Tony Parker one-on-one; he is one of the best at finishing in traffic.
He Will Not Cost Much
The Knicks would love to add a guy like Chris Paul or Deron Williams to their team, which would definitely help the team have more success into the postseason. However, the Knicks cannot afford either of these two players.
Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony made it nearly impossible for management to squeeze either of these players under the current salary cap system because they both opted to take as much money as they could. With both of them taking all this money, it would be hard because the Knicks simply do not have enough assets to sign one of these top-tier point guards.
Let's face it, the Knicks are placed into a tight situation coming into next season. If the owners have it their way and a hard cap is put into place, it would make it impossible for either one to sign. They would be classified as superstars and there would be no way to add either to their team, even if they took a pay cut. In the NBA, superstar players do not take huge pay cuts when they are not even close to 30. Amar'e and Carmelo sure didn't.
The Fast-Paced System
Mike D'Antoni's system is particularly effective when he has a point guard who can handle his uptempo style of offense. Chauncey Billups is not getting any younger and the fact that he will be 35 in September is not helping the Knicks anytime soon. His body began to wear down only after playing a half season in the uptempo system. At this point in his career, Billups is more of a half-court player.
Tony Parker is a player who has thrived when the Spurs have gotten out of their half-court offense and opened up the floor. Placing him in New York, the Knicks would have a point guard who could handle the faster paced offense.
Tony Parker's three-point percentage was at a respectable 35 percent last year, which is much better than his career average. This may be a sign to suggest that he is actually improving in this area and definitely make him a huge addition to D'Antoni's system—especially with some three-point shooters on the roster and guys who can knock down mid-range jump shots to help space the floor.
Imagine seeing Tony Parker, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire on the floor. When Parker has the ball you cannot leave either one of these guys to help, because they will punish you. Now you add a three-point shooter and a solid mid-range shooting big man and your team is more than capable offensively of leading the league in scoring.
Mutual Benefit to Both Teams
The Spurs have managed Parker's minutes very well over the course of his 10-year NBA career. Only averaging 33 minutes per game over the course of his career, it is safe to say that he has plenty left in the tank and should definitely be able to handle the minute increase that he would see in New York.
Having played in 746 out of a possible 820 games it is safe to say that he is a guy who has been pretty durable over the course of his career. The guy has played in over 70 games in every season except two, which is a pretty good sign for years to come. I see him having numbers that could resemble his 2008-2009 season with the Knicks.
Tony Parker signed a contract extension in November 2010 for four years at $50 million. So, it is not like the Knicks would be spending nearly as much as they would for any other player at the point guard spot. His contract is very team friendly, especially for a team that is paying out so much for two other marquee players.
His contract helps them compete by allowing them to sign role players with the leftover money. We all know that the Spurs would love to get his contract off of the books. Bringing in Billups to come in for a year would definitely allow the team to be competitive in the free agent market for the 2011-2012 season. Seeing as how Duncan would have an expired contract also, they would have flexibility to pursue marquee names in that free agent class. Ginobili's contract expires the year after.
The Spurs Were Shopping Him
Tiago Splitter could be the big man who could help fill the void in the middle!
Like I said earlier, he would be a cheaper alternative than trying to add guys like Deron Williams or Chris Paul. The Knicks better make a move now instead of waiting to see what could happen. Tony Parker is a guy who they could acquire soon because they have players and a city that are ready to win now.
The most likely trade scenario that I could see going down would be Chauncey Billups, Landry Fields, their 2016 first-round pick and cash considerations for Tony Parker and Tiago Splitter. This trade would definitely benefit both teams. Billups helps take pressure off of Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan. Ginobili would have a guy who is very reliable at hitting the three-point shots and Billups could help mentor Cory Joseph. Billups is also a better fit in San Antonio.
The Spurs would also love to have a first-round pick in the future and Landry Field would definitely help the team immediately. Providing hustle points and possibly starting at the three for the Spurs next season. For the Knicks, they address one of their needs at their big man who can defend and rebound, and they get their franchise point guard who they have not had since the Earl the Pearl days.