Tim Duncan has every right to continue playing in the NBA until he’s 50, but will he play until he’s 40? At 38, Duncan will soon announce whether he’s picking up his player option on next year.
The tentative deadline is June 24, but Peter Holt and R.C. Buford will happily delay the deadline at Timmy’s request. First of all, I don’t even know how the Big Fundamental will go about deciding whether to comeback, with the victory parade on Wednesday (7:00 PM EST on NBATV) for one.
Duncan doesn’t owe the San Antonio Spurs anything. Sure San Antonio drafted him No. 1 in the 1997 NBA Draft, but Timmy has been the central piece to the Spurs hoisting five Larry O’Brien Trophies, so for that they’re indebted to him forever.
In A Possible Sendoff, The Big Fundamental Gets 5th Ring Against The Miami Heat
On June 15, the NBA Finals ended with San Antonio eliminating Miami 104-87 for a fifth title, avenging their only Finals defeat. A three-time NBA Finals MVP, Duncan, passed the torch to Tony Parker in 2007. On Sunday Parker passed the torch to a star-in-the-making Kawhi Leonard (17.8 points per game, 6.4 rebounds per game).
Tony, Timmy and Leonard led the Spurs during the regular season with 29.4, 29.2 and 29.1 minutes per game. Despite Gregg Popovich resting players A-Z, the silver and black snagged the No. 1 seed with a 62-20 record.
The team formula transferred to the postseason too with the Big Fundamental’s minutes creeping up to 32.7 MPG, the most by any San Antonio player. Kawhi and Parker were second and third on the Spurs, respectively, with 32.0 and 31.3 MPG.
Duncan averaged 16.3 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 2.0 assists per game and 1.26 blocks per game during the playoffs. In the regular season Timmy averaged 15.1 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 3.0 APG and 1.88 BPG.
Why Should The Big Fundamental Retire?
One reason is the same as why he should return for another year: San Antonio’s in good hands with Manu Ginobili, Leonard and Tony capable of holding down the fort. Duncan, the NBA’s 1998 Rookie of the Year and 14-time Western Conference All Star, would not be abandoning ship if he left.
Timmy would likely be a fixture at the AT&T Center as two-time champion David Robinson has been and could converse to the team regularly via phone or in-person. Like his pal Robinson, I bet you this the Big Fundamental will be the biggest silver and black supporter when he calls it quits.
Yes, Duncan’s departure would hurt the Spurs inside. However, don’t put anything past Pop if Timmy D. goes off in the sunset. That is if Popovich doesn’t go out the door with him, possibly to a place in management. While San Antonio’s foundation has been centered around the Big Fundamental, player development and scouting are two of the Spurs’ calling cards.
The Alamo City already has Tiago Splitter, Aron Baynes (restricted free agent) and Jeff Ayres. Splitter is believed to be Duncan’s predecessor, but Pop knows cutting ties is sometimes the way to go. If Popovich feels Tiago isn’t fitting in well enough, he’ll “George Hill” or “Stephen Jackson” him out of town.
Boris Diaw‘s an unrestricted free agent too, so if he and Timmy both don’t come back, then San Antonio may have to focus more on shooting 3s (made 47.4% in the Finals). The Spurs’ system has constantly adapted to fit their personnel and even when the Big Fundamental does retire, San Antonio will adjust accordingly.
Best Power Forward Ever To Play The Game
At five rings, Duncan’s individual and team achievements are aplenty. In 17 seasons since Timmy’s entered the NBA, the Spurs have averaged 55.9 wins. That includes playing in a 50-game 1998-99 and 2011-12 66-game regular season, respectively.
Not even the great Bill Russell, through his 13-year playing career, could lead the Boston Celtics to that uncanny number of regular-season victories. Boston won an average of 55 games a year.
As well San Antonio has 149 playoff victories, which means on average the Spurs have made the third round with the Big Fundamental in uniform. Six trips to the NBA Finals, Duncan also has nine Western Conference Finals appearances and just five times has not been out of the first round.
The Big Fundamental said during the playoffs he’s playing on one-and-half legs. How many NBA players wish they had those sturdy one-and-half legs to run the floor on? At the end of the day Duncan was fit for San Antonio and meant to be a Spur. Highly intelligent and mild-mannered, no matter what Timmy decides to do, we all should applaud his choice to stay with one franchise for 17 years through thick and thin.