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Thursday, September 19, 2013
Parker: Spurs said don't overdo it

By Mark Woods
Special to ESPN.com

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia -- Tony Parker has had plenty of catching up to do with San Antonio Spurs general manager R.C. Buford over the past week. Reliving June's NBA Finals, though, wasn't a prominent topic of conversation.

ParkerHe wants me to play less minutes to be ready for the Spurs next season. But I have a great relationship with the Spurs. I'm very lucky to have R.C. and Coach Pop to let me play for my country.

-- Tony Parker, on conversation he had with Spurs GM R.C. Buford

Buford is one of many NBA executives who have been in attendance at EuroBasket in Slovenia to lend discreet support to their players, assess past and potential draftees and get to know those in the Euro talent pool who might be worth a look in the future.

The French team includes three Spurs, with Parker joining Nando de Colo and Boris Diaw on a roster that is getting ready for Friday's semifinal against Spain (WatchESPN, 2:50 p.m. ET) in Ljubljana. Although some in NBA front offices, most vocally Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks, have rallied against their star employees heading off on national duty, Buford and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich are not among them.

"I saw R.C.," Parker said. "He wants me to play less minutes to be ready for the Spurs next season. But I have a great relationship with the Spurs. I'm very lucky to have R.C. and Coach Pop to let me play for my country. They know that I love playing for my country.

"I take a lot of pride playing for France. I'm just happy that I have the Spurs organization to let me do that."

Parker acknowledged playing through some fatigue in averaging 28.7 minutes during the tournament, unsurprising considering he went into France's training camp barely eight weeks after San Antonio's grueling postseason run that ended with a Game 7 Finals loss to the Miami Heat.

There are still scars about how close the Spurs came to a fourth title since Parker arrived in Texas, at how -- but for Ray Allen's impeccably timed 3-pointer that sent Game 6 to overtime -- Parker could now be going for his second championship of the summer.

Three months later, the memories remain painful.

"I was lucky enough to win three times already," Parker said. "It's obviously going to hurt until I die. I'll be 95 years old and dying, and I'll be like, 'Oh, Game 6.' That's life."

Safe to say, Buford has kept the All-Star guard apprised of his offseason strategy and the manner in which the Spurs hope to remain primed for another playoff run.

With the Spurs' championship window likely closed when Tim Duncan or Manu Ginobili decides to retire, a sense of urgency remains, Parker said, along with a belief that their aging roster is not quite ready to walk off into the sunset.

"The signing of Marco Belinelli is a great signing for us," Parker said. "Pop is going to do a great job of resting me, Manu and Tim during the season. We have those young guys -- Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard -- getting better and better.

"So I think we're going to have a great chance to do it again next year. That's what you want as a basketball player, to have that opportunity to try to win it. You don't win it every year but you try to have the opportunity, and that's what we have with the Spurs."