After his first Charlotte Bobcats practice Thursday, veteran point guard Jannero Pargo went trick-shot mode:
Grasping two balls outside the 3-point line, he threw one high above his head, shot the other, then caught the second ball for another 3-point attempt. He was 1-for-2.
Now the trick is to learn the Bobcats’ plays and personnel on the fly.
Pargo, with his seventh NBA franchise in nine seasons, is here on a 10-day contract. Certainly he’d like to stay the rest of the season, and that’s contingent on him fitting in quickly enough that he can relieve Kemba Walker of some wear-and-tear in Ramon Sessions’ absence.
Sessions was diagnosed last week with a knee sprain that will keep him out 2-4 weeks. This injury came late in a season when the Bobcats have no playoff shot, so it might just make sense to shut down Sessions for the duration.
The downside to that is adding to Walker’s minutes. If Pargo can show he’s a reliable enough backup to offer Walker relief, he probably has a solid shot at sticking around at least the remaining five weeks.
Proving himself on the fly is nothing new to Pargo, who has played for the Lakers, Hornets, Wizards, Hawks, Bulls and Raptors. But each new gig, particularly on a 10-day audition, brings a bit of anxiety.
“Fourth quarter, down two points, is a lot less pressure than playing on a 10-day contract. But this is what we do – we’re professional athletes,” Pargo said.
“It’s definitely not a new thing for me, but it’s tough – different players, different coaches and you’re expected to know the situation and deal with it.”
Pargo is more a jump-shooter than a penetrator, more scorer than playmaker. His career average is about six points and two assists per game.
He suspects being a point guard in this situation is harder than showing up on a 10-day at some other position, because of the facilitating that point guard entails.
“You have to know where guys are comfortable catching the ball, the spots on the floor they want to operate in,” Pargo said. “The toughest job in the NBA is point guard.”
Coach Mike Dunlap would agree, which is why he’s glad the front office went with a veteran like Pargo, over a less experienced point.
“He’s done this a lot and he’s confident,” Dunlap said. “So I think probably the consequences are a little less for him than it would be for a young man coming from the D-League.”