Was there anything less suspenseful than Tim Duncan’s “free agency?” I was more surprised at the end of the movie “Gettysburg.”
But Duncan’s free agency has ended, reports Johnny Ludden at Yahoo.
Duncan’s representatives and the Spurs are finalizing a few items, but the structure has been agreed upon. The contract is expected to be in the range of the three-year, $36 million deal Kevin Garnett reached with the Boston Celtics the day before the NBA’s free-agent market opened.
Duncan is 36 but continues to play at a high level, even if that level is a little lower than his prime years. He averaged 15.4 points and 9 rebounds a game in 28 minutes, with a very good PER of 22.5. He also moved better last season than he has in years past and coach Gregg Popovich does a masterful job limiting his minutes.
Still, we’ll see if he plays all three years of this deal or decides to walk away if he feels he is slipping.
Duncan told PBT and pretty much every media member he spoke to during the playoffs last year that he was not leaving the Spurs after the season. There’s not a lot of ways to interpret “I’m a Spur for life.”
Duncan now joins Boris Diaw and Danny Green as Spurs who have agreed to terms with the Spurs in the last 24 hours. San Antonio is getting back together the roster that had the best record in the Western Conference the past two seasons, but one that hasn’t made it to the NBA finals and doesn’t seem likely to overtake the Thunder (or maybe the Clippers, or maybe the Lakers with Nash, or… you get the idea).
The Spurs have been the Spurs this season, going 19-8 with an elite defense and offense that’s good enough to get them wins, thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge playing at an All-Star level.
Starting Tuesday, they add Kawhi Leonard back to the mix.
He will return to the lineup against Dallas, but will be on a minutes restriction, coach Gregg Popovich said on Tuesday. He would not say how many minutes, although around 20 seems a logical starting spot.
Leonard is one of the five best players in the NBA (and that may be selling him short). He averaged a career-high 25.5 points a game last season, he’s arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and he finished third in the MVP voting last season.
However, there are going to be adjustments. LaMarcus Aldridge has been the focal point of the offense, but he could see fewer touches, particularly in crunch time. Kyle Anderson could see fewer minutes, and Rudy Gay may as well because Popovich liked some small-ball lineups last season with Leonard at the four. A lot of players will see their rotations change.
That said, it’s the Spurs. Do we really expect them to be anything but an incredibly good regular season team? One that is about to get better?
The injuries just keep hitting the Pelicans. Guys like Solomon Hill and Alexis Ajinca are out for extended periods of time. Anthony Davis has missed four of the team’s last six games and is questionable for Wednesday night due to a left adductor injury.
Now comes the news that reserve guard Tony Allen will be out three to four weeks due to a nondisplaced left proximal fibula fracture, the team announced Tuesday. This is the part of the bone near the ankle.
Allen has played a limited role for New Orleans off the bench this season, averaging 12.4 minutes a game, and averaging 4.7 points. His reputation is that of a defensive stopper, and when he is on the court this season the Pelicans’ defense has been 5.6 points per 100 possessions better. However, father time has started to catch up with him and he is not the defender he once was.
Expect the minutes to bump up for Jrue Holiday and E'Twaun Moore with this injury, which is not a bad thing as they have played well (they were knocking down threes against the Rockets Monday like they were named Curry), plus Ian Clark could get a little more run.
Kawhi Leonard, enabled by the Spurs’ no-nonsense culture, is probably the NBA’s most boring superstar.
He’s widely recognized as the league’s best defender, and he has worked himself into an elite offensive threat. He has already won a Finals MVP, and regular-season MVP could eventually be in the cards.
But Leonard is notoriously reserved. For someone who has been on this stage for so long, we know little about him.
Except we now know he apparently likes karate.
Gonna chop y’all up. Look at all of us. Karate styyyle.
If “karate styyyle” doesn’t become Leonard’s catchphrase, I don’t even know what we’re doing.
Leonard will finally have the chance to chop up an NBA opponent tonight, when he makes his return from injury.
Michael C. Wright of ESPN:
Kevin Durant has become a villain to many.
Clearly not to this Warriors fan, though.