Tim Duncan didn’t look old — he averaged 15.4 points a game with a 60.8 true shooting percentage, plus he pulled down 10 rebounds a game and was a defensive force in the paint during the NBA Finals.
But the 38-year-old wouldn’t directly say after the game if he planned to return next season.
“I’m guessing you’re leading me into a question that I’m not going to answer, so I’ll just go ahead and avoid that one,” Duncan said when a reporter tried in a round about way to ask about his future.
Duncan is hard to read, but people around the team had the sense he would be back for at least one more run. That’s what Spurs lead owner Peter Holt and teammate Tony Parker told the San Antonio Express-News.
Holt said, “Tim and Manu are going to play until they die, so I think we are in pretty good shape. Tim and Manu want to play until they die, somewhat sincerely, actually.”
“It will come to an end but I don’t think next year,” Parker said. “I think everybody’s gonna come back.”
Duncan did give a hint he would be back. Duncan was asked after Game 5 about what Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard brought to the table and after raving about him for a bit this was Duncan’s last sentence:
“I’m honored to be on this team right now because he’s going to be great for years to come, and I’m going to hold on as long as I can.”
Duncan, Parker, and Manu Ginobili — not to mention Danny Green, Marco Belinelli, and others — are all under contract for one more year. Basically the Spurs can bring this same team back. The only free agents are Patty Mills and Boris Diaw, and thanks to Duncan taking a pay cut on his last deal down to $10 million the Spurs have the flexibility to re-sign those guys and/or chase other players (see what we’re talking about with flexibility, Lakers fans). The only guys on the roster beyond next season are Tiago Splitter, plus Kawhi Leonard (who will get a big contract extension from the team off his rookie deal).
Expect the Spurs to get the band back together for one more run. After that…. who knows?
Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich in no hurry to move on