Tony Parker might be right. Maybe this will be the “last real chance” for him to win a title with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.
But the finality of Parker's statement this week says something else. If Parker thinks this is it, then Parker likely thinks this is it for him, too.
Which could help the Spurs this season.
Parker is among the few Spurs not in San Antonio already, but that's not a sign of anything. He usually comes into town just before training camp starts and, besides, he put in his time this summer.
He's been traveling to various functions with his wife, and he's often been in Los Angeles. But he worked out in L.A. with devotion, usually with a Spurs assistant, and some in management think it's been among the most productive offseasons of his career. Not getting hurt with his French national team standing nearby was an additional plus.
This should be clear: He's not Carmelo Anthony, another entering the final season of his contract. Parker wants to be here this season, and he wants to win.
And if Parker resumes his All-Star status while the Spurs win? There might be the same franchise urgency to find a contractual compromise as there was with Ginobili late last season.
Ginobili, too, went into the season on the last year of his contract. Ginobili, too, didn't know if he would be back. The Spurs say everything is as fluid with Parker and that an extension is possible.
But everything else is also possible. If the Spurs don't begin their season well, they will look to deal their most tradeable asset. And, when the season is over, they could lose Parker to free agency, no matter how well he plays.
A probable lockout adds more variables to the equation. A new collective bargaining agreement could mean limits on contract lengths and averages, and it also means the Spurs could be in an entirely different bargaining position with Parker.
There are indications Parker is open to everything. Sometimes he has said he wants to stay, as he told the Express-News in May when trade rumors surfaced. And sometimes he sounds as if he would embrace change.
“It would be ... maybe a good challenge for me to go elsewhere,” Parker told the French newspaper publication, L'Equipe, in June. “If I leave, I can make another career — eight, nine years in a different club.”
Ginobili was wondering, too, if he might face the same challenge. The difference between the two is that Parker has told friends that leaving has its advantages.
Maybe he already understands Duncan and Ginobili aren't going anywhere in an already-stacked payroll and that the economics work against him. Given Parker's salary projections, as well as the payroll, George Hill is both a bargain and a younger replacement.
Either way, there's been a theme: From Amare Stoudemire declaring in July that Parker is “ready to join me” with the Knicks, to Eva Longoria saying in August that Parker would like to play in New York.
Parker's latest statement is mostly a basketball one. This week, he told a French website, “Personally, I think this will be our last real chance to win a title,” and his reasoning translated into a two-word analysis.
“Duncan aging,” Parker said.
That will go over well in the practice facility.
Parker is acting as if this is the end, putting everything on today while distancing himself from tomorrow. And if that leads to some anxiety, there's also an edge that was there a year ago with Ginobili.
If this is the last of Parker, it will be the best of him, too.