It’s not breaking news that the summer of 2015 is when big changes are coming for the San Antonio Spurs. When the contracts of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili expire is when the Spurs will have a different core for the first time since 2002.
Duncan by then will be 39 years old and though he’s played with resurgence since last season, the wheels will fall off eventually. Ginobili will be close to 38 years old at that time and will most likely choose to retire, after contemplating the choice last summer.
Head coach Gregg Popovich has also stated before that he’ll at least consider retirement at the same time Duncan does. However, Parker will only be 33 years old in 2015 with at least a good three more seasons in him. With his older teammates and coach essentially having retirement in their sights, will Parker be willing to stick around afterward?
A recent report explains that Parker’s first choice is to stay in San Antonio beyond 2015, but isn’t making any promises. He trusts that the Spurs will take care of him, continue to build a new foundation, and put the team in a position to continue winning games. It’s a lot easier said than done, though.
Nowadays contract negotiations most often favor the player, and we see many more overpaying contracts than fair priced or great value deals. In a league where players such as Rudy Gay will make more than Duncan and Ginobili combined next season, the Spurs will find it more difficult to woo players to San Antonio on fair contracts when they can land big money elsewhere.
Aside from that, the beginnings of the post-Big Three era foundation seem to be in place with Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter. Splitter signed a four-year deal last summer, and Leonard is due for an extension this offseason. The team will most likely add new prospects from now until then, the two have shown flashes – Splitter a solid defensive big man, Leonard a proven perimeter defender and still raw on offense – that should ease the worry a bit on Parker.
The team won’t be the same contender, obviously, but they are taking steps in the right direction.
This season, Parker has continued his efficient play as he runs the Spurs offense. He’s averaging 18 points on 50.2 percent shooting and 6.1 assists in 30.6 minutes per game, his lowest amount of playing time since his rookie year. No numbers have taken a noticeable decease, and his three-point shooting is actually up from 35.3 percent last year to 46.9 percent.
Though Parker’s numbers may not fall off drastically after 2015, the team will still need to find players to fill at least some of the void the rest of the core will leave behind, as well as make up for the athleticism and scoring ability Parker will lose as age wears him down. If the team doesn’t continue to take the right steps, he’ll definitely weigh his options elsewhere.
From now until the moves actually happen in 2015, expect a huge swirl of rumors to circle over San Antonio on what will happen with the core, especially Parker. Also until then, expect the Spurs to dismiss them all and focus on what’s most important to them: bringing home another championship before this ride is over.