Report: Spurs ‘operating under the premise’ that Tim Duncan will return next season

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Tim Duncan is an unrestricted free agent this summer, but there isn’t a single team outside of San Antonio that believes it has even a remote chance of convincing him to jump ship.

The only question where Duncan is concerned is whether or not he’ll return to play for the Spurs for a 19th NBA season. And just as recent reports have indicated, the latest has the team operating as though he will in fact be back to do exactly that.

Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

The San Antonio Spurs are operating under the premise that Tim Duncan will return in 2015-16 for a 19th NBA season, according to league sources.

Although Duncan and fellow Spurs mainstay Manu Ginobili have yet to make formal declarations about their plans for next season, sources said that the Spurs are optimistic about re-signing both at salaries that will allow the team to re-sign prized restricted free agent Kawhi Leonard this summer and to pursue top-tier free agent LaMarcus Aldridge.

Duncan could easily sign a “wink-wink deal” that would essentially mean stretching out his money for next season over two years instead. The Spurs could do the same with Manu Ginobili (assuming he returns, too), thus making their pursuit of free agents like Aldridge that much easier under the salary cap.

As for Aldridge, he’ll have the Lakers to consider, as well. But if San Antonio returns the bulk of the roster intact for one more season, you’d have to like their chances of signing him, considering the team’s projected ability at that point to contend for a title once again.