Cavs sign ex-Raptor Anthony Parker
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Anthony Parker's fondest basketball memories came overseas, where he won three Euroleague championships and twice was named league MVP.
After signing Monday with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Parker believes he has a legitimate shot at winning his first NBA title.
"For me it's always about who really saw me fitting in with what they're trying to do," Parker said. "Cleveland has been that team from the beginning. They showed the most interest and pursued me the hardest. It just so happens they're also a team that's contending, which is even better. It was a fit all the way through."
Parker, 34, signed a two-year deal worth about $6 million. He averaged 10.7 points and 3.4 assists in 80 games for the Toronto Raptors last season. At 6-foot-6, he provides the type of length the Cavaliers have been searching for in a perimeter defender.
"He's as perfect a piece as you could find," Cavaliers assistant general manager Lance Blanks said.
Parker is the latest addition to a Cleveland team that had the best regular-season record in the NBA last season but lost to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference finals. Cleveland's biggest addition since then has been Shaquille O'Neal, 37, the dominating center who came to the Cavs from the Phoenix Suns for Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, a second-round pick in 2010 and $500,000.
"When you have players like Shaq, LeBron and Mo Williams, it makes everybody else's job a lot easier," Parker said. "I benefit from other players demanding a lot of attention."
Cleveland has spent the last four years following Parker, who has split his career evenly between the NBA and Europe. He played five seasons with Maccabi Tel Aviv (2000-02, 2003-06) and one with Virtus Roma (2002-03). He has averaged 10.1 points and 3.4 rebounds in six NBA seasons with Philadelphia, Orlando and Toronto.
"I went over there obviously with the intention of trying to get back to the NBA as soon as possible," Parker said. "But once I got over there, it was a great experience. I had great support in Israel and it really gave me the opportunity to develop as a player."
Parker will wear No. 18 with Cleveland out of respect to his time in Israel, where 18 is a symbol associated with life and success in the Jewish faith.
His best season in Europe was 2004-05, when he averaged 14.4 points and 4.7 rebounds to win his first of consecutive league MVP awards. The Cavaliers began following him during his final season in Europe, when Blanks was part of a contingent that flew to Europe to watch him play. Ultimately, Parker signed with Toronto.
"At the time it made sense because of the type of person he is and the player he is," Blanks said. "We've watched him ever since. We knew the clock was ticking and we were hopeful we'd have another crack at getting him. Fortunately he became free and we went after him extremely hard in free agency."
Parker comes from a family with a rich basketball history. His father, Larry, was the first freshman to start a basketball game at the University of Iowa. His sister, Candace, is a WNBA star with the Los Angeles Sparks after being selected with the first overall pick in the league's 2008 draft out of Tennessee.
"She got all the positive genes in the family," Parker said. "If I had her genes as a guy, I'd probably be LeBron. But I didn't, so I'm the Danny DeVito of the family."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press