Spurs pick Mizzou's Denmon, concern is Parker
SAN ANTONIO (AP)
Spurs general manager R.C. Buford said Thursday night he didn't how well Parker was healing since the All-Star nearly lost his left eye two weeks ago. Parker was in a New York night club when a fight broke out involving Chris Brown and members of hip-hop star Drake's entourage - and Parker wound up with glass in his eye.
Parker's availability for the London Olympics is now in jeopardy, and the Spurs are concerned about their All-Star's future. Parker's cornea was scratched in the fight and says doctors had to remove a shard of glass that had penetrated ''99 percent'' of his eye.
After the Spurs picked Missouri guard Marcus Denmon with the 59th pick, Buford said he and coach Gregg Popovich won't know the extent of Parker's injury until he returns from Europe next week for an exam.
''I think you guys know our history, as an organization, Pop is going to put the health of our players above all else in relation to putting him out on the floor,'' Buford said. ''It's impossible to say, to have an evaluation of this, until we see him. So we don't have a reason an opinion as of yet.''
The Spurs have the right to have a say in Parker's recovery under the rules of the International Basketball Federation.
''We'll know more once we have an evaluation that we have in person,'' Buford said.
Denmon played four seasons at Missouri and led the Tigers in scoring the last two years. The Spurs didn't have any other picks but don't need much immediate help.
They had the deepest team in coach Popovich's 16 seasons while falling two wins short of returning to the NBA Finals. Now their focus is on Parker - and they've got the rest of their Big Three to worry about, too. Tim Duncan is without a contract, and while he's not expected to retire, the Spurs still have to work out a new deal with the 36-year-old bedrock of their four NBA titles.
Manu Ginobili is also in London this summer playing for his native Argentina, a moonlighting stint that always makes the Spurs anxious because of the 34-year-old playmaker's propensity for injury.
It's enough to keep the Spurs distracted after their stunning collapse against Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals. San Antonio tumbled from a 20-game winning streak and a 2-0 lead against the Thunder to losing four in a row - and arguably their last, best chance at winning a fifth championship in the Duncan era.
Parker, who finished fifth in the league's MVP voting last season, is scheduled to see a specialist about his eye in New York once he is cleared to take long-haul flights in a week. He wrote on his website that rest of his career ''is not in question'' but added that the Spurs are worried.
Parker said the injury could have been worse but doesn't know if he'll play in the Olympics. France's first game is against the United States.
''The decision is no longer mine. It is in the hands of the doctor and San Antonio,'' Parker said.
The 30-year-old Parker has two years remaining on a $50 million contract. He has sued the W.i.P club in SoHo for $20 million, claiming its operators were negligent in security and supervision.
Parker is coming off averaging 18.3 points and a career-high 7.7 assists. Coach Gregg Popovich called it his All-Star's best season yet as Parker, who has long deferred the leadership job to Duncan and Ginobili, made the team unquestionably his.
Denmon averaged 17.7 points last season and will get a shot at joining the backcourt for the Spurs, possibly replacing seldom-used shooting guard James Anderson.
Yet San Antonio doesn't have many glaring needs. The bulk of the roster is on track to return with the notable exception of center Boris Diaw, Parker's teammate on the French national team and now a free agent after becoming a starter in the playoffs.
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