Spurs owner, Tony Parker expect Tim Duncan will return next season

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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 

 

Rockets’ Clint Capela on Warriors: ‘I expect to beat them’

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During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”

Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.

The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.

Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:

“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.

That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.

There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.

PBT Extra Player of the Week: Victor Oladipo

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Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.

That place turned out to be the Pacers.

Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.

That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.