While the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics are still battling it out for the coveted NBA crown, the San Antonio Spurs have not wasted time in trying to improve for next season. They began to work out a lot of college players as they try to find another gem in the upcoming draft at the 20th spot.
One thing is clear, the Spurs needed another quality big-man to play along side Tim Duncan. When this topic is mentioned, one name always comes to mind --- Tiago Splitter. It is still uncertain whether Splitter will decide to join the Spurs in the coming season but if he does decide not to join the Spurs this could mean the team will either draft a center or trade for one and when it comes to trades, the name that has surfaced many times this off-season has been Tony Parker.
There have been a lot of buzz surrounding Parker's future with the Spurs. According to several reports, the Spurs' floor general could end up playing for another team next season. Most recently, news surfaced that Parker might be traded to the New York Knicks or the Indiana Pacers. Regardless, the Spurs have gone on the record to keep Parker in San Antonio and Parker has expressed his desire to remain in San Antonio.
There are many factors why Parker is a target of trade rumors. His contract is expiring next season, he is a proven winner, he is still young and much more which makes him the most tradeable asset for the Spurs at this time. Factor in the emergence of guard George Hill and it makes for some to believe that Parker might be expandable.
Speaking of Hill, the Spurs made their strong run towards the end of the regular season with Parker out with an injury and Hill as their starting point guard. This continued in the playoffs when coach Gregg Popovich decided to stick with Hill as the starter against the Dallas Mavericks essentially making Parker as their number one option off the bench.
Hill averaged 12.4 points and 2.9 assists on 47.8% field goal shooting in 78 regular season games. As a starter, he was even better as his numbers went up to 15.3 points and 3.6 assist on 48.6% shooting from the field in 43 starts. He solidified his mark in the series against the Mavericks as he averaged 14.3 points and 3.8 rebounds on 50% shooting as the Spurs beat Dallas in six games.
Nevertheless the questions remains: are the Spurs better off trading Parker? He is still one of the elite point-guards in NBA and should the Spurs decide to trade him, will Hill be ready to take the reigns at the starting point-guard? Right now the answer would have to be "no."
Trading away a player who has been with the team since he was 19 years old, has led the team to its fourth NBA title in 2007, is familiar with the players and the Spurs' system, and one who commands respect from opposing defenders is something this team cannot part with.
On the other hand, Hill is still a work in progress. Sure he had great moments in the regular-season and in the playoffs but his inexperience showed against the Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash in the 2010 Western Conference semi-finals. Hill still needs to improve on defending quicker guards, developing a stronger mid-range shot, and playing under pressure. He still has to pay his dues and lets face it, he does not compare to Parker but he does have tremendous upside.
This does not mean the team is not willing to listen to offers for Parker. It would have to take a lot to "wow" the Spurs front-office to pull the trigger on a trade. If Splitter decides not to come to the Spurs next season, and another team wants to throw in a solid big-man to compliment Duncan, I am sure their ears are open to trading Parker. Bottom line, Parker should remain a Spur and Hill is not ready . . . yet.
What do you guys think? If a trade is to happen, which player or players should the Spurs target in exchange for Parker or do you believe that Hill is ready as the team's full-time floor general. Send us your thoughts.