Nobody is ever going to replace what Tim Duncan has meant to the San Antonio Spurs. The question is how can the team move on from him and still compete?
Pursue Kevin Love and Lamarcus Aldridge in free agency
The Spurs have no reason to think about next year yet. Their key pieces are all back and in place for an all-important run at a sixth NBA championship, hopefully the first repeat title of what has been one of the most unique dynasties in basketball history. However, not thinking about the long-term at all is a guaranteed way to fail. There is no question the focal point of 2015 will be the fate of future Hall of Fame forward Tim Duncan. If he decides to retire at age 38 following the season, the team will have a huge hole to fill if they wish to stay on top. The quickest and easiest way to do that is find a veteran in free agency.
Luckily the upcoming crop should feature some prominent big men. The most notable of course is Kevin Love. Big, long, an excellent rebound and crisp shooter from long range he is an offensive menace. He will also be just 26-years old by that time which means he has long years ahead of him. Then there is Portland star Lamarcus Aldridge. While he has expressed interest in staying with the Blazers, an offer to join the Spurs would be hard to pass up since his team has made any headway in the West for years. Conversely, Aldridge would make a great bridge gap. At age 28 he went to his third-straight All-Star game in 2013-2014 while posting careers highs in points (23.2) and rebounds (11.1) per game.
Go after Myles Turner in 2015 NBA draft
On the other hand the San Antonio Spurs have always been about building through the NBA draft. They may want to find their Tim Duncan replacement that way. However, in order to do so it may require them to be considerably more aggressive than they typically are. Logic suggests they will likely have a late 1st round pick so it will take a trade of some kind to move up the board to get a high quality player. One name they should keep a close eye on in 2015 is Myles Turner. The Texas product is a long and athletic big man with developed array of offensive abilities that allow him to either bang in the paint or step back and shoot. On top of that he is an effective shot blocker too. That kind of two-way ability is what the Spurs covet and what Duncan has exemplified his entire career.
One way or another, replacing a legend will be a challenge for the San Antonio Spurs, but it’s one they won’t have any choice but to embrace.