Spurs' Parker, owner Holt confident Duncan will return, play until he dies

Jun 17, 9:16 AM

Tim Duncan has one week to decide on his future. 

That seems like a really short time frame, and it is, but the statement is also somewhat hyperbolic - Duncan has until June 24 to pick up or decline his $10.4 million player option for next season, but declining it would not necessarily mean he has to retire.

Given Duncan's proclivity for keeping to himself, it's unlikely any official word or even well-placed speculation will come out before then. Other members of the San Antonio Spurs family, however, seem confident.

Especially owner Peter Holt.

"Tim and Manu (Ginobili) are going to play until they die, so I think we are in pretty good shape," Holt told The San Antonio Express-News following the team's fifth championship on Sunday. "Tim and Manu want to play until they die, somewhat sincerely, actually."

While that sounds a little unsafe, Holt's point is clear that he doesn't see the 38-year-old Duncan, or teammate Ginobili, who is 36 and has one year left on his deal, walking away in the immediate future.

Tony Parker, the third member of the trio, thinks his running maters will return, too.

"It will come to an end but I don't think next year," Parker said. "I think everybody's gonna come back."

General manager R.C. Buford had previously expressed the same, and head coach Gregg Popovich doesn't plan on going anywhere. Consider us on board for another season of the dynasty.

Feature photo courtesy of USA Today Sports/Brendan Maloney

Sep 27, 8:46 PM

Tim Duncan on decision to return instead of retire: 'There was some hesitation'

Sep 27, 8:46 PM

Tim Duncan didn't leave the San Antonio Spurs in the lurch for long this summer, needing just eight days after the NBA Finals to pick up his player option for the 2014-15 season.

While the decision was necessarily expeditious, it wasn't easy for the 38-year-old.

"There was some hesitation there," Duncan told the San Antonio Express-News in an article published Friday.

On one side of the equation was $10.3 million and a chance to play professional basketball at an elite level and compete for a sixth NBA championship. On the other, leisure and the storybook ending of having gone out on top.

For Duncan, the impermanence of life as an athlete seemed to weigh heavy.

"It came down to, I'm not going to be able to do this again," Duncan said. "So as long as I'm feeling I can, and I feel good about it, this is where I want to be."

That explanation perhaps provides a hint that Duncan isn't even certain he'll retire after this season. He'll be an unrestricted free agent, and while he'd almost surely never play anywhere else, the Spurs would take him back as long as he'd like to keep playing.

That decision is a long way off for Duncan, but if last year was any indication, he's not exactly slowing down. He played a career-low 29.2 minutes but still averaged 15.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, three assists and 1.9 blocks, with his efficiency numbers still well above average.

Duncan enters the season with a chance to continue his assault on the NBA's all-time leaderboards, too, as he ranks 23rd in games, 17th in minutes, 11th in rebounds, seventh in blocked shots and 19th in points.

Feature photo courtesy of USA Today Sports/Soobum Im

Jun 23, 7:42 PM

Tim Duncan exercises his 2014-15 player option

Jun 23, 7:42 PM

With their rock back at the helm, the San Antonio Spurs should be primed for yet another foray into the NBA playoffs.

Their rock, of course, is power forward Tim Duncan, who made his decision to opt in official on Monday via the team's website.

The decision must have been an easy one for Duncan, especially considering his stellar performance last season. During the Spurs' championship run, Duncan averaged 16.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game on 52.3 percent shooting from the field. 

Feature photo courtesy of Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Jun 23, 4:12 PM

Report: Duncan opts in for next season, will not retire (yet)

Jun 23, 4:12 PM

Great news, San Antonio Spurs fans! Longtime power forward Tim Duncan will be back for yet another season.

Earlier reports hinted at the possibility of Duncan opting out, and re-signing a new deal at a lower average annual salary to help the Spurs create cap room. But the price of $10.3 million for Duncan's services is more than fair value.

Last season, Duncan averaged 15.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and three assists per game in limited minutes. However, despite lower counting statistics, his per-minute averages remained nearly identical with his career norms. And, of course, he led the Spurs to the title.

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters/Mike Stone

Jun 16, 8:57 AM

Tim Duncan won't talk retirement but 'I still feel effective'

Jun 16, 8:57 AM

Tim Duncan isn't ready to discuss the possibility of retirement yet.

We understand, of course, why he was being asked about it in the immediate aftermath of winning his fifth NBA Championship on Sunday night, but it's unfortunate that he had all of 30 seconds to savor it before the focus changed to the future. The image of Duncan winning a fifth ring, 15 years after his first, is simply too storybook an ending to avoid considering.

As has been the case all season long, Duncan was mum on the idea, opting to say little. Even when questions were worded differently - like whether it would be tough to walk away from a team this good - Duncan didn't bite.

"I'm guessing you're leading me into a question that I'm not going to answer," Duncan said at one point. "So I will just go ahead and avoid that one."

Tony Parker and general manager R.C. Buford were a little more willing to speculate, suggesting the whole group would be back together.

And despite his best efforts, Duncan may have hinted as to where his heart is presently.

"I've always said, as long as I feel I'm going to be effective, I'm going to want to play," he said with both children on his lap. "And I still feel effective."

Well, of course he does. He averaged 15.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, three assists and 1.9 blocks in just 29.2 minutes this season, shooting 49 percent from the field. With the difficulty ramped up in the playoffs, he averaged 16.3 points and 9.1 rebounds, shooting 52.3 percent. Even at age 38, Duncan is still a terrific player.

Originally, we had predicted that Duncan would win and head off into the sunset, but now we're not as sure. And we definitely don't want him to.

Feature photo courtesy of USA Today Sports/Soobum Im

Jun 14, 1:48 PM

Spurs' Tim Duncan 'not saying anything' about retirement yet

Jun 14, 1:48 PM

Ahead of what could be the final game of the season, Tim Duncan did what he could on Saturday to quell the discussion surrounding whether the NBA Finals will be the finale of the 38-year-old's playing career.

Regardless of what happens in the Finals, Duncan has another 10 days to decide on his future and inform the San Antonio Spurs whether or not he wants to exercise the option on his contract. In the meantime, he's understandably not very interested in sharing his thought process with the media.

Feature photo courtesy of USA Today Sports/Robert Mayer

Jun 13, 3:36 PM

Report: Tim Duncan must decide on player option by June 24

Jun 13, 3:36 PM

It could be getting real dusty at theScore come June 24, if Tim Duncan makes the decision some are expecting him to make.

Of course, Duncan has an NBA Championship in his sights right now, and that series could wrap up as early as Sunday or as late as June 20. Shortly after that, Duncan has an enormous decision to make.

At age 38, Duncan has a $10.4 million player option on his contract for the 2014-15 season. Unlike most options, which don't have to be exercised until June 30, Duncan has to let the San Antonio Spurs know of his intentions by June 24, according to a report from ESPN. This gives the Spurs a little extra time in figuring out their offseason plans.

Declining said option wouldn't necessarily mean that Duncan's retiring, and it's unclear if he would announce that decision immediately or ruminate on it longer, but picking up the option would at least put that idea to rest.

Duncan deflected questions about his retirement ahead of the NBA Finals and has done so for most of the season, but speculation has continued that Duncan and head coach Gregg Popovich could see a fifth championship together as a perfect way to leave the game on top. That's a nice narrative but it ignores finances and the fact that neither looks like they need to retire at this point.

On the contrary, the report indicates that the Spurs are "quietly operating under the assumption" that Duncan and Popovich will return for an 18th season together.

Should he choose to retire, Duncan will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, plastered all over the league's all-time leaderboards and in the discussion as one of the 10 best players in NBA history. And we'll be sad.

Apr 20, 5:38 PM

Tim Duncan says he has 'a couple more' playoff runs in him

Apr 20, 5:38 PM

Game 1 of the first-round series between the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks saw Tim Duncan drop a game-high 27 points while finishing with a game-high plus-minus of plus-24.

Not bad for someone who turns 38 in a few days.

Much has been made of Duncan's future throughout the year as there are no guarantees that he'll pick up his $10-million player option for the 2014-15 season. Some have speculated that this could be the future Hall of Famer's last hurrah with the Spurs.

However, after Sunday afternoon's victory, Duncan provided a strong indication that he'll still be in San Antonio come October.

When asked to give a more specific timeline, Duncan responded by saying he doesn't "know what that number" is.

For now, we'll just have to keep speculating on the subject, but you can be sure that Duncan's decision will rest heavily on how the Spurs' current playoff run plays out.

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters/Jerome Miron

Apr 4, 7:40 PM

Tony Parker expects Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili to play next season

Apr 4, 7:40 PM

San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker spoke at length to French media outlet Bein Sports on Friday, and discussed his long-time partnership with teammates Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili - with whom he's won three NBA championships. 

"The day these two guys will retire, it will be really weird," Parker said in French (translation courtesy Fred Fouilland). "This will create a big gap in the locker room and I hope that this will happen as late as possible."

Parker also touched on an expected timeline for when Duncan and Ginobili might hang up their sneakers (or in Ginobili's case, just blow them up). "I know they have one year left on their contracts," Parker said, "so I know they will play next season, after that, we will see."

That's a pretty intriguing response from the speedy French international player, especially because Duncan's status for the 2014-15 campaign has been a matter of intense speculation. While Duncan is signed through next season, he has a player option on his deal. He could conceivably decide to decline that option and ride off into the sunset as the consensus best power forward of all time.

On the topic of his potentially impending retirement after this season, Duncan has played his cards close to the vest all season. So if Parker knows something we don't, this could be read as a meaningful revelation. 

Or Parker could simply be commenting in an off-hand way about how Duncan is technically still on the Spurs' books for next season, and as such, he expects to be lobbing entry-passes Duncan's way 12 months from now.

Or perhaps Parker's just like the rest of us, and is eager to see Duncan nailing bank shots from the elbow for all of eternity. "Popovich takes good care of us, so [Duncan and Ginobili] may want to continue," Parker said in the interview. "Anyway I hope to play as long as possible with them."

Mar 26, 11:21 AM

Duncan on playing out option in 2014-15: Taking it 'game by game'

Mar 26, 11:21 AM

Tim Duncan has a $10-million player option for the 2014-15 season, but many have speculated that this season could be Duncan's last.

Asked recently by Yahoo Sports if he would honor his contract through next season, The Big Fundamental "said he's taking it 'game by game.'" In other words, don't expect an answer any time this season.

At age 37, Father Time beckons, though Duncan has yet to get the memo. He's averaging 15 points, 9.9 rebounds and three assists in 29.3 minutes, only slightly down on a per-minute basis from his production over the past two seasons. He remains efficient and effective, and his team is pretty damn good, too.

However, everyone eventually retires. $10 million sounds nice, and so would another kick at the can with his running mates in Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Gregg Popovich, but Duncan has exactly nothing left to prove after 17 seasons. He also isn't one for attention, so when retirement comes, it will surely come quietly.

A completely speculative guess: if the Spurs win the title this year, Duncan goes out on top.

Feb 18, 7:06 PM

George Karl: Hearing 'Duncan's thinking this is going to be his last year'

Feb 18, 7:06 PM

It's going to happen eventually, whether we want it to or not.

One day, Tim Duncan will hang 'em up, calling it a Hall of Fame career and drifting off into the basketball sunset. It will be modest, it will be boring, and it will be sad.

And according to former NBA coach George Karl, it will be sooner than we'd all like.

Speaking with ESPN on Tuesday, Karl said that he's been hearing rumblings that Duncan could retire at the end of the season:

"You know over the weekend, that was the whispers that I got. I got a couple of phone calls, one from San Antonio, that said that Tim Duncan's thinking this is going to be his last year. The best, most fundamental big guy ever to play in the NBA, and him leaving would make me very very sad."

It's unclear what Karl's connection to the Spurs and to Duncan may be, but far be it for us to suggest the coaching legend is being anything but forthright.

If he's correct, it will mean Duncan is leaving a $10 million player option for 2014-15 on the table. At age 37 - 38 when the season ends - and having made roughly $225 million in his career, perhaps that's not a concern. You have to respect when a player decides it's time, especially when that player has 14 All-Star appearances and four championship rings.

But damn if it doesn't look like Duncan could play another few seasons. Duncan is averaging 15.6 points, 10 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.1 blocks in 29.6 minutes, shooting 49.5 percent from the floor. His player efficiency rating remains a robust 22, second among qualified post players, and his win shares per 48 minutes rank him as a borderline top-five big man still. If he retires, it won't be because he's washed up.

And if he walks, Duncan will go down as one of the greatest to ever play the game, especially when it comes to post players. He currently ranks among the NBA's all-time leaders in several key categories:

Tim Duncan, O.G.Rank (excluding ABA)
Blocks8 (7)
Win Shares8 (7)
PER10 (10)
Rebounds14 (13)
Minutes19 (17)
Points25 (20)
Games29 (26)

Don't do it, Tim. Don't go.