Looks like San Antonio Spurs fans can let out a collective sigh of relief. Tim Duncan will not test out the free agency market this offseason according to ESPN.com.
Per ESPN: “Though I shouldn’t say that; I have to threaten them that I’ll leave,” Duncan joked. “No … I’m not going anywhere. You can print that wherever you want to. I’m here and I’m a Spur for life.”
The news doesn’t come as a big surprise, though, and should the Spurs win the 2011-12 NBA Championship, it would make an interesting decision for the 36-year-old power forward. Does he follow in David Robinson’s footsteps (although a championship certainly isn’t guaranteed this year) or does Duncan opt to continue his quest to garner more titles?
Knowing Duncan it isn’t outside the realm of possibility that he takes a significant pay cut to give the Spurs’ front office more financial flexibility. San Antonio has about $48.2 million guaranteed next season and, as usual, probably won’t be big players in free agency. But every dollar counts and it could open up interesting opportunities to add more depth.
I’ll go on record saying that I do not expect this to be his last season in San Antonio regardless of how this season plays out. Given the culture of this Spurs team, another year working with Gregg Popovich and his innate love of basketball, — which was only reaffirmed in Chris Ballard’s brilliant feature on Duncan in Sports Illustrated — I highly doubt Duncan will call it quits this year. But I could be wrong.
Duncan’s counting stats are slightly lower than his career norms but that is because he averaged a career low 28.2 minutes per game. His rebounding percentage and above-average PER indicate that Duncan is still more than capable of dominating the league at the age of 36. In his 14th postseason, Duncan is averaging 17.4 points and 9.2 rebounds in 32.3 minutes per game. He also raised his PER to 25.0.