Kurt Helin

Tim Duncan

51 Questions: Is this the final year of the Tim Duncan Spurs?


PBT is previewing the 2015-16 NBA season by tackling 51 big questions that we can’t wait to see answered once play tips off. We will answer one a day right up to the start of the season Oct. 27. Today’s question:

Is this the final season of the Duncan era Spurs?

Tim Duncan will turn 40 during this season, his 19th.

That’s a lot of miles on his legs.

The past couple summers, after the Spurs’ season ended, Duncan would take some time off — likely to hang out at an auto shop — and collect his thoughts. He considered walking out on top after 2014. He thought about it again after the Clippers bounced the Spurs in the first round last spring. Both times he chose to return.

Will it be different this time? Is this the final season of the legendary Tim Duncan era Spurs?

Probably. But it’s not like Duncan is tipping his hand.

If this is it, like Gregg Popovich himself, we will all be a little sad.

But nobody knows if this is it — not even Duncan. He may have a sense of what he wants to do, but he is going to see how this season plays out, how he feels next spring, then make a decision. Last season he was so consistent, was given enough rest, and the Spurs were still contenders, so he felt he could keep going — and more importantly keep contributing at a high level.

It’s not just Duncan, if he walks away Manu Ginobili likely steps away. Ginobili is physically fading faster; this is likely his last season regardless.

Duncan’s career stats are mind-boggling. He has played 18 seasons and never once missed the playoffs. The Spurs have won at least 50 games every one of those seasons except for the lockout 1998-99 season when they only played 50 games — that season they won 37 (a 60-win pace in a normal season) and won the NBA title. Duncan has won five championships, two MVPs and three Finals MVPs. He’s a 15-time All-Star and 15-time All-NBA team member.

He will go down as the greatest power forward to ever play the game when he steps away (with all due respect to Karl Malone, Kevin McHale, and whoever else you want to throw in the conversation). His legacy is set.

This is a transition year, as the Spurs evolve from the Tim Duncan/Tony Parker/Manu Ginobili Spurs to the Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge’s version. Duncan can hang up his sneakers after an unprecedented run of success and know that the Spurs winning tradition will continue (especially since Gregg Popovich says he will continue to coach beyond when Duncan retires).

But Duncan isn’t going to decide until the Spurs season ends — he hopes in mid-June after another boat parade down the Riverwalk. Whenever he decides, the Spurs will likely announce it in a press release and Duncan will try to avoid any fanfare around it.

But that’s how we’ll all find out.

Blatt, Cavaliers may shut down LeBron James for rest of preseason

LeBron James, Kent Bazemore

LeBron James is sitting out the Cavaliers’ Thursday night preseason game against the Pacers. That much is certain.

But as LeBron has said he feels like he could use more rest, the Cavaliers may shut him down for the remainder of the preseason. That from coach David Blatt, via Jason Lloyd at the Akron Beacon Journal.

He isn’t hurt, the Cavs are just trying to limit his minutes.

“We’ll see what happens at the beginning of next week,” Blatt said, referring to games at the Toronto Raptors on Sunday and home against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday to conclude the preseason. “I certainly don’t expect him to play both games and I don’t know if he’ll even play one. We’ll see.”

This makes sense, and it’s why LeBron has only played in two of the Cavaliers’ preseason games so far. There’s no question LeBron showed up to camp in shape, and his skill set is plenty sharp. They are going to get him rest during the season, too, but there is no reason to run him much in the preseason either.

It’s all about the big picture, and the little things that Blatt and the Cavaliers do now can help lay a foundation for that.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Wizards will not fade in playoffs


Washington fans don’t seem sold on Randy Wittman. With some reason — he stayed with the two-big lineup (starting Marcin Gortat and Nene) and played at a slower than league averaged pace for two seasons, not fully taking advantage of John Wall and the talent on the Wizards’ roster. The result was 45 then 46 wins and two second-round exits the last two seasons. That’s not bad, but is he the guy who is going to lift them to the next level?

That’s the root of the bold prediction for this PBT Extra on the Wizards, with Jenna Corrado of course. The prediction is the Wizards will start fast playing small, but fade in the playoffs.

I think the Wizards will thrive playing smaller this season (Nene will come off the bench) but they will not fade come the playoffs. This is the year I think they make the conference Finals.

Authorities track Lamar Odom’s stay at Nevada brothel

Lamar Odom Clippers
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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Authorities are retracing Lamar Odom’s $75,000 visit to the brothel where he was found unconscious as the former NBA and reality television remains hospitalized and the Kardashians spar with the brothel owner over media attention surrounding the ordeal.

There’s been no official word on Odom’s condition, but the Rev. Jesse Jackson visited him Wednesday and said he’s on life support.

Odom’s grandmother, Florence Odom, declined to comment on his status Thursday, saying she was becoming distressed at unfounded speculation that her grandson would be taken off life support. His father, Joe Odom, also declined to discuss his condition, saying that information was confidential.

Nye County law enforcement and brothel officials said Odom’s incident was a rarity for the Love Ranch, in the rural community of Crystal, and have summed it up as a possible drug-related medical episode.

“We’re going to be looking at the entire situation, how he actually came to be where he is now,” Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly said at a Wednesday news conference.

Love Ranch owner Dennis Hof is cooperating with authorities, said Richard Hunter, a brothel spokesman and one of the people who called 911.

Odom was found unconscious at the brothel Tuesday with white and reddish substances coming from his nose and mouth. His breathing was consistent, but he seemed to be in a deep sleep-like state, Hunter said.

He was to be flown by helicopter about 80 miles southeast to Las Vegas but had to be taken by ambulance because he couldn’t fit into the aircraft.

Odom’s estranged wife, Khloe Kardashian, rushed to his side that night at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. Since then, friends, teammates and loved ones have visited and posted messages on social media asking for prayers.

Meanwhile, authorities took a blood sample from Odom to find out if he overdosed on drugs or alcohol, but the results could take several weeks.

On Thursday, the Kardashians and Hof locked horns over media attention while about a dozen reporters and camera crews were staked out at the hospital.

Both sides said Khloe Kardashian’s representatives reached out to Hof on Wednesday and asked him not to speak to the press.

Hof said he’s troubled by the lack of communication from Khloe Kardashian, and he dismissed her rep’s request that Khloe Kardashian do interviews instead of him. She has so far issued no public statements.

“I know what happened,” Hof said. “I’m the one protecting my business and telling the truth about it.”

Kardashian’s rep said they politely asked Hoff to respect their privacy.

Report: Pelicans sign Nate Robinson to one-year contract

Charlotte Hornets v Los Angeles Clippers

The Pelicans need help at the point guard spot. Jrue Holiday is coming off an injury and has a minutes limit, Norris Cole just suffered a high ankle sprain that will sideline him for a while. That leaves Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon, who can jump in and share that role, but actually they should be sharing the two-guard spot.

Enter Nate Robinson. So reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Robinson is a fan favorite because he is a fearless shooter who is constantly hunting his shot. He’s a coach’s nightmare because he is a fearless shooter who is constantly hunting his own shot. And because he gets exposed defense.

Remember last season he struggled with the Nuggets, who traded him to Boston but the Celtics bought him out; then eventually he signed some 10-day contracts with the Clippers. However, despite needing depth Doc Rivers chose not to keep him around. Robinson shot just 34.5 percent overall and 27.7 percent from three last season.

Robinson will put up points for New Orleans, the fans there will want to see him on the court, and he will make some highlight plays. However, the sooner he can be relegated again to a third point guard spot, the better things will look for New Orleans.