Las Vegas — Tony Parker says he didn’t choose the Charlotte Hornets over playing time, role or money.
To him, it’s about the challenge of helping first-time head coach James Borrego establish a new culture with the Hornets, the comfort level with longtime friend and fellow Frenchman Nic Batum and the intrigue of working for his lifelong “idol,” Hornets owner and Hall-of-Famer Michael Jordan.
“I take this very seriously,” Parker said of his spending his 18th NBA season with the Hornets when he signs a two-year contract worth a reported $10 million later this week. “(That approach) is why we were so good in San Antonio: We were never satisfied; we pushed our limitations.”
Parker said he didn’t ask for assurances of playing time from the Hornets over leaving the Spurs, the only NBA team in a career that started in 2001 when Parker was 19 and the 28th overall pick.
Since then, Parker, a 6-foot-2 point guard, was in the core of four NBA championship teams alongside Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Parker does not know what it’s like to end an NBA season without a playoff appearance.
“I hope not to break that streak!” Parker said of the Hornets making the playoffs in 2018-19.
Borrego was a Spurs assistant to Gregg Popovich in two different stints during Parker’s time in San Antonio.
Borrego said Saturday he didn’t want to talk extensively about the addition of Parker until the signing, but Borrego made it clear how critical Parker could be to what Borrego is looking to instill.
“We were trying to find a player in free agency that had experience, had wisdom, had winning DNA,” Borrego said.
“We’ve identified a player for our roster who can really help us grow, take that next step: credibility, accountability, wisdom, experience.
“He is such a valuable piece and has been to that San Antonio organization. We’re very fortunate right now.”
Parker will back up two-time All-Star Kemba Walker at point guard, along with rookie Devonte Graham.
“They didn’t give me (assurances) on playing time,” said Parker, who turned 36 in May.
“There’s the challenge in helping J.B. in that first job. I’m helping the team, I’m helping Kemba.”
Also, assisting Batum to re-establish his form. Batum’s key statistics were all down last season, in points (11.6), assists (5.5) and rebounds (3.8).
The Hornets made a massive investment in shooting guard-small forward Batum in the summer of 2016, signing him to a five-year, $120 million deal.
Parker noted he helped another former Charlotte player and Frenchman, Boris Diaw, win an NBA championship with the Spurs and won a gold medal for France at the 2013 Eurobasket tournament with Batum.
“He’s been a business partner and my little brother,” Parker said of Batum, seven years younger at 29.
Like Parker, Batum came to the NBA as a teenager and first-round pick, debuting with the Portland Trail Blazers.
“Anything I can do (with Batum) is very appealing,” Parker added. “I hope I can get the best out of him next season.”
Celtics fan remembered
After a young New Orleans man was killed, his grieving family chose to remember him doing what he loved: sitting in front of a TV with his beloved Boston Celtics on the screen.
The body of 18-year-old Renard Matthews, who died from a gunshot wound to the head on June 25, was dressed in a Celtics jersey at Sunday wake at the Charbonnet Labat Glapion Funeral Home in the Treme (treh-MAY’) neighborhood.
WDSU-TV reports his body was positioned in a chair and he had a video game controller in his lap. His favorite snacks were positioned on a nearby table and the floor. The 18-year-old Matthews will be buried today.
The Timberwolves officially announced on Monday the signing of former Pistons forward Anthony Tolliver to a one-year, $5.75 million contract.
The 6-foot-8 Tolliver spent last season with Detroit, where he averaged 8.9 points a game and shot a career-best 43.6 percent from 3-point range.
... The Pelicans signed free-agent guard Elfrid Payton and re-signed guard Ian Clark.