Anthony Parker ended speculation over his basketball future on Thursday when he was introduced as the newest member of the NBA's Toronto Raptors.
Parker, the two-time Euroleague MVP, left Maccabi Tel Aviv for a three-year, $12 million contract with the NBA's only Canadian team.
The 1.98-meter swingman said he felt like he had something to prove. "I'm 31 years old but I have the drive of a much younger player," Parker said.
Parker showed that to the world and then Phoenix Suns general manager Bryan Colangelo when he led Maccabi to a 105-103 victory over the Raptors in Toronto last October, hitting a fade-away shot with 0.8 seconds remaining. The win made Maccabi the first foreign team to beat an NBA team on North American soil.
Now, nine months later, Colangelo said he feels "that by securing Anthony, we are getting one of the top free-agent guards that was available."
He added, "I figure the best way to beat Maccabi is on our side this time."
The Raptors and Maccabi will meet again this preseason in an exhibition game.
Parker, who averaged 15.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals in five seasons of Euroleague play with Maccabi, helped the team to three European titles and five Final Four appearances. He is expected to challenge current Raptor Morris Peterson for a starting spot.
Maccabi Tel Aviv said that Parker was released by the yellow-and-blue so he could try and play in the best league in the world.
In a statement, Maccabi said the team was "happy to have another player coming to the NBA."
Maccabi Tel Aviv spokesman Mike Karnon told The Jerusalem Post, "Parker's been released," and "both sides are very happy," although no details about the buyout of Parker's final year with the team were released.
A source at the Toronto Raptors seconded Karnon's comment saying that Parker "could not have been signed without being released from Maccabi."
Parker is the second Maccabi player to leave the team for the NBA in as many years, after Sarunas Jasikevicius moved to the Indiana Pacers following the 2005 Euroleague title win.
Parker joins Andrea Bargnani, the first overall pick in this year's NBA Draft, who is a protege of David Blatt, one of Parker's former coaches at Maccabi.
This will be Parker's second stint in the NBA, as he was drafted 21st overall in 1997 by the New Jersey Nets, before being traded to Philadelphia 76ers where he played for two years. He also spent time with the Orlando Magic before joining Maccabi.
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