INDEPENDENCE — The Cavaliers’ courtship of Anthony Parker began in the spring of 2006, but it didn’t come to fruition until Monday afternoon.
The former Toronto Raptors shooting guard officially signed a two-year, $6 million contract with Cleveland, taking advantage of a second chance to learn first-hand what playing for the Cavaliers is all about.
“This is extremely, extremely exciting. I didn’t think I’d have this opportunity, so I’m ready to get this day going,” Parker said shortly after inking his deal at Cleveland Clinic Courts.
“Cleveland has been the team from the beginning that showed the most interest, that pursued me the hardest, had a place for me and had a vision of what they want me to do. It was a good fit all the way through.”
The 34-year-old Parker averaged 10.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists last season for Toronto, where he also spent the previous three seasons. He also moved into ninth place in NBA history in 3-point percentage at .415 while solidifying his reputation as one of the top wing defenders in the league.
Prior to signing with the Raptors in 2006, Parker was heavily recruited by Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry, but chose to accept a more lucrative offer from Toronto.
When the 6-foot-6, 215-pounder became a free agent this time, both sides were committed to getting a deal done.
“We knew the clock was ticking (on his Raptors contract) and we were just hopeful we’d have another chance to get him,” Cleveland assistant general manager Lance Blanks said. “Fortunately, he became free and we went after him extremely hard — and were able to get him.”
Parker, whose senior year at Bradley came in 1996-1997, adds length and versatility to the Cavaliers. He was one of 11 NBA players to rack up at least 750 points, 250 rebounds, 250 assists and 100 steals last season, joining new teammate LeBron James in that club.
With All-Star guard Mo Williams guaranteed a starting spot, Parker will compete with incumbent Delonte West for the right to play beside him. Regardless of who wins that job, all three athletes will log major minutes.
“Early in my career, I would have been happy coming off the bench, so it’s not a problem,” Parker said with a chuckle, referring to his first three NBA seasons when he saw little action with Philadelphia and Orlando. “It’s very easy to fit in when you have players like Shaq (O’Neal), like LeBron, like Mo Williams. And looking at the defense they play here in Cleveland, I think I fit right in.”
While he is best known in the basketball world as the older brother of WNBA star Candace Parker, the two-time Euroleague MVP is also notable for resurrecting his career overseas.
After flaming out of the NBA in his early 20s, Parker honed his skills in Israel and Italy from 2000-2006 — playing with notable franchises Maccabi Tel Aviv and Virtus Roma.
By the time he headed home to the United States, he had won three Euroleague championships and was considered a viable pro for the first time since New Jersey chose him in the first round of the 1997 draft.
“Did I ever think I’d be back in the NBA when I went to Europe? I wasn’t sure,” the Illinois native admitted. “I went over there with the intention of getting back to the NBA as soon as possible and I had a great experience. It really allowed me to grow as a player and as a person. God has blessed me, and here I am today.”
Indeed. Parker is older, wiser and a much more complete ballplayer. He also appears to be a great fit for a franchise that won’t be satisfied unless it wins the world championship.
“We think the best way to sum Anthony up is — winner,” Blanks said. “We felt not only the person, but the player, fit well. He’s as perfect a piece as you could find for our team.”
All about Anthony
Parker changed his NBA uniform number to 18 upon leaving the Israeli Premier League in 2006. In the Jewish culture, 18 is the numerical value of the word “Chai,” which represents life and prosperity. He wore No. 12 and 24 during the first stint of his North American career. …
In 90 Euroleague games, Parker averaged 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists. Maccabi Tel Aviv also won five Israeli Cups during his five-season tenure. …
His NBA career averages are 10.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 290 contests. His lifetime free throw percentage is .819, which would rank 115th all-time if he had the required 1,200 makes. …
Parker said his father Larry, who played college basketball at Iowa, inspired him to play the sport. The elder Parker was the first freshman to start a game for the Hawkeyes.
Sin City update
Cleveland has started 0-2 at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, losing to the Lakers 88-82 and the Bucks 80-69. The wine and gold plays the Wizards tonight.
l Second round selection Danny Green shares the team lead with undrafted forward Leo Lyons at 13.5 points per game, while Lyons and Cavaliers veterans Tarence Kinsey and Jawad Williams are tops in rebounding at 5.5. Lyons is a 6-foot-9, 244-pound rookie from Missouri.
l Top draft pick Christian Eyenga has played 42 minutes, shooting 4-for-10 from the floor while collecting 11 points, six rebounds, two assists and one block.
l Coach Chris Jent has started Green, Kinsey, second-year power forward Darnell Jackson and undrafted guard Jamont Gordon in both games, while center David Harrison and Williams have gotten the nod once apiece.
Cavaliers guard Mo Williams told followers of his Twitter account that he liked the team’s offseason moves. He wrote, “yo, great news. we signed andy V (Varejao) back and we signed anthony parker. danny (Ferry) continue to impress me. 1 mo piece baby. championship. One Goal.” …
He also commented on another free agent that Cleveland has expressed interest in, swingman Matt Barnes, a streaky 3-point shooter who will not be re-signed by Phoenix after it locked up Grant Hill and Channing Frye in recent days: “Matt barnes will be a good look for the Cleveland Cavs. Quote.”
Quote of the day
“If you’ve seen my sister play, you know she’s not a shooter, but she is a great all-around player. She got all the positive genes in the family. If I had her genes, I’d probably be LeBron.” — Cavaliers guard Anthony Parker explaining why he can defeat his sister, WNBA MVP Candace Parker, in a game of H-O-R-S-E.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.