Veteran point guard Jannero Pargo needs to put something aside in his next paycheck for a trip to Morton’s or Sullivan’s.
“According to him, he’s the reason I’m back here,” Pargo said of close friend Al Jefferson. “So I owe him a steak dinner, and that’s a lot of money.”
Pargo re-signed with the Charlotte Hornets on Friday to be the team’s third point guard behind Kemba Walker and Brian Roberts. It’s appropriate that center Jefferson’s name came up Friday, because the playful needling Jefferson and Pargo engaged in last season became the locker room’s soundtrack.
They were a bit of an odd couple – the Charlotte Bobcats’ All-NBA center and a little-used point guard. But they were both in their 10th NBA seasons, and they had much in common as far as experience to pass on to the group.
Pargo played in 29 of 82 regular-season games last season, totaling 242 minutes and averaging 4.7 points and 1.8 assists. But he drew frequent praise from the coaches for the example of professionalism he set. The Bobcats had a particularly healthy locker-room atmosphere last season, and Pargo was a factor.
“We all wanted to see each other do well. It was never about playing time. It was all about the team,” Pargo said. “We got into little scuffles here and there, but after the game it was all about love. Nothing really carried over (from game-to-game), and that’s what you need to be a good team.”
Pargo said it’s a mistake to assume that chemistry is a given from season-to-season.
“It definitely has to be re-established. Only way it doesn’t is if you come back with the very same group of guys, and that’s very rare in the NBA,” Pargo said.
“We have some new guys on this team, so that will be a work-in-progress, but I’m sure we’ll have a really great locker room like last season.”
Part of what worked for the Bobcats last season was a low-maintenance bench. Guys like Pargo, Anthony Tolliver, Chris-Douglas Roberts and Jeff Adrien didn’t complain about playing time, and they all stayed ready to play. Pargo is the only one of those four to re-sign in Charlotte.
A 6-foot-1, 175-pound veteran, Pargo has changed teams nine times over a 10-season career. So knowing in July he has job security next season is a pleasant change from how much of his NBA career has gone.
“It’s definitely a relief,” Pargo said. “That’s refreshing. I can’t wait to get started.”
Part of that excitement is about how he believes the Hornets have improved, both internally and externally.
‘Lance (Stephenson) is a great player on the rise,” Pargo said of the key free-agent signing. “I really like the signing of Brian Roberts. I think Cody (Zeller) is getting better and Mike (Kidd-Gilchrist) is working really hard this summer.
“I think we’ll be better than we were last season.”
Vonleh signs: Noah Vonleh, the Hornets’ ninth overall pick last month, signed his rookie-scale contract. As the ninth pick, Vonleh is guaranteed more than $4 million total over the next two seasons, followed by two one-season team options. The Hornets have yet to sign their other first-round pick, P.J. Hairston.
Rick Bonnell: (704) 358-5129; @rick_bonnell