Tony Parker wants to play for the French national team in the 2016 Rio Olympics, according to an interview the San Antonio Spurs point guard gave Euronews. He will also play for France in the European Championships, which begin in September.
Parker will be 34 in 2016, coming off what would be his 15th NBA season. The extra wear and tear of international play is a worry for NBA teams, and Gregg Popovich is known for monitoring players' minutes carefully. So much, in fact, that it earned San Antonio a $250,000 fine for sitting Parker, Danny Green, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili for a prime-time game against the Miami Heat last season.
Parker is one of the only veterans of the French national team expected to play in this year's Eurobasket, as guys like Joakim Noah, Ian Mahinmi and Ronny Turiaf have decided to skip the event. The French are coming off a silver medal in Eurobasket 2011, which they lost to Spain.
The Spanish will be without Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro and Serge Ibaka, but they are still considered the favorites in 2013. With so many veteran players absent, France will be depending on strong performances from young players like former NBA center Alexis Ajinca and Joffrey Lauvergne.
Ajinca, a seven-footer drafted No. 20 overall by the Charlotte Bobcats in 2008, played in only 71 games in three seasons in the NBA. Lauvergne, a 21-year-old power forward, was drafted by the Denver Nuggets with the 55th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. He averaged 8 points and 5 rebounds in 21 minutes a game for Partizan Belgrade last year. Due to contractual obligations, it's unclear when (of if) he'll ever play in the NBA.
Since Parker began playing in international competitions in 2002, the French have a won bronze medal in Eurobasket 2005 and a silver medal in 2011, but have yet to bring home a gold.