Since scoring 30 points in a playoff game against the Dallas Mavericks almost exactly one year ago, Jannero Pargo has embarked on one of the strangest journeys any established NBA player has been through in recent memory.
After signing a one-year, 3.5 million dollar contract with Dynamo Moscow, Pargo was forced to leave mid-season for Olympiacos following the financial instability that hit many Russian league teams with the worldwide economic crisis. Since then, he seems to have struggled to find his niche on the team, and was barely a factor at all in this Euroleague Final Four, as hes suffering from a sports hernia that he will need to have surgery on once the season is over. Since the doctors say that he cant injure himself any more than he already has, Pargo has decided that he want to play and give the teams as much as he can give them.
Pargo actually started the game for Olympiacos, and had time to miss one shot, commit one turnover and commit two fouls in the first three minutes before watching the rest of the contest from the bench.
This is how its been in pretty much every game Ive played in, a visibly frustrated Pargo told us in the locker room following the game. Its tough to deal with. It makes it hard to play aggressive and be productive. But this is the role Ive been given, so I just need to play the best that I can.
Despite the inconsistent minutes in Greece, and the issues with getting his payments on time in Russia, Pargo wasnt willing to call his season in Europe a bust.
The experience hasnt been great, but it hasnt been bad either. From a basketball perspective, Dynamo Moscow was actually great for me. I loved playing for David Blatt and Dan Shamir. I really felt like I was becoming a better player over there.
Here in Olympiacos things havent been that bad either. Ive learned a lot from watching guys like Yotam Halperinwho is a very smart playerand Papaloukas. My game has gotten better here.
I couldnt help but ask Pargo whether he had been watching the way his former teamthe New Orleans Hornetshad been booted out of the playoffs last week.
I watched it. Definitely. Im pulling for those guys. Those are my good friends.
Any thoughts on the way they went out?
I was embarrassed. The effort was so different than it was last year.
Asked whether he felt like he would have made a difference had he still been on the team, he didnt seem to have any doubt.
I do feel like that. There is so much pressure on Chris Paul, I could have helped with that. He needs to make plays all game long, in every game, for 82 games, and then in the playoffs. I feel like I could have taken a lot of pressure off him. With me there, he can sit on the bench a bit more and not be so worried. I could give the second unit a big boost. We can also play togetherwe work really well together. I think he got really tired, and having someone to ease the pressure would have made a huge difference.
Surprisingly enough, Pargo isnt ruling out returning to Europe next season, and really didnt even seem fazed by the subject.
Not at all. Im definitely not ruling out Europe. Greece is a great country, Russia is a great country. For my family this has been great. They treat me well and the basketball is fine too. I wish I was playing a little more, but thats about it.
Pargo reminded me that he took a different route to becoming an established player than most NBA veterans.
Ive been all over the world now, and I played in a lot of different places in the States too. I went to Junior college in Kansas, and then to college at Arkansas. Its different for different people I guess. Im not the richest guy in the world, but Im doing OK.
So any idea where you might be playing next season?
I have no idea. It depends whos interested. Money is not going to be the sole factor in the decision process. A lot of people think it is. I feel like I proved last year that Im an NBA player. I dont have anything more to prove at this point. The timing of this economic crisis has been unfortunate, but I think I can still get a good deal in the NBA.
When pressed about exactly what happened last summer with the Hornets, where they reportedly made a 3-year contract offer for 9 million dollars that they later rescinded, Pargo shed quite a bit of light for us on the topic.
The offer was on the table, and they asked me to wait. They were looking to make a trade, trying to clear more money, so they asked me to wait. The offer was supposed to be on the table until I decided to take it. Once I decided to take it, thats what they said that the offer is no longer on the table. I was never asked about anything.
Im not bitter. Im not angry. I understand that it was a business decision. I did turn down other NBA offers while I was waiting for them. The Spurs made an offer for 2 million. Atlanta made an offer for 2.5 million. I turned them down to go to Dynamo Moscow.
Regarding potential tension that the way the Hornets conducted themselves in the negotiation process was rumored to have caused, particularly with Chris Paul, Pargo wouldnt deny any of that.
Chris and I are good friends. We work really well together. We could have had a great season.