Former UT star Ford (@TJ_Ford) will sign with Spurs, back up Parker

After agreeing to sign a contract with the Spurs that will make him Tony Parker’s primary backup at the point guard position, former University of Texas star T.J. Ford said he was anxious to open training camp with the Spurs on Friday.

“I can’t wait to get there,” he said from his home in Houston.

Ford is expected to sign a contract for the NBA veteran minimum. With eight seasons in the NBA with Milwaukee, Toronto and Indiana, that makes the deal worth $1.266 million, which will be pro-rated for the shortened season.

Just one week removed from playing for KK Zagreb in the Euroleague, where he emigrated after the NBA locked out its players in July, Ford said he is more than ready for the start of Spurs camp.

“This is a great opportunity for me to continue to play,” said Ford, who led the Longhorns to the NCAA Final Four in 2003. “I understand my role in the NBA now. I accept it and look forward to getting started on Friday. I want to help these guys pick up where they left off in the regular season and I believe I can be a positive factor for them off the bench.”

The draft night trade that sent George Hill to the Ford’s former team, the Indiana Pacers, in exchange for the draft rights to forward Kawhi Leonard left the Spurs without an experienced backup for Parker. Ford’s acquisition fills that void.

Ford’s ealry pro career was hampered by a spinal cord injury that cost him the entire 2004-05 season. His best NBA season came in 2008-09, his first season in Indiana, after a multi-player trade. In 74 games he aveaged 14.9 points and 5.3 assists.

“I’m healthy,” he said. “Condition-wise, I’m in great shape. I’ve been playing in Europe, so I think I’m ready for an NBA camp.”

Ford said his conversations this week with head coach Gregg Popovich and president of basketball operations R.C. Buford simplified his decision.

“Really, the biggest factor is that I think Mr. R.C. Buford and Coach Pop really wanted me to be part of the team. I’m just excited to be able to come to a winning organization. I’m ready to get to work, fit in and play my role.”


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