Tim Duncan will possibly make his decision on whether to play one more year in San Antonio this weekend according to media reports.
Many believe the future Hall of Famer will be retiring and taking his $5 million dollar consolation prize, after losing out in the conference semi-finals to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are now minus two of the players who helped eliminate the Spurs.
This weekend marks what could be a day to celebrate, or a day to deal with the heartbreak of knowing that another era has ended in San Antonio, and the time for the torch pass will be officially in Kawhi Leonard’s hands.
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Duncan has been playing on a bad knee for quite some time. Everyone that has battled knee injuries knows there are some things that don’t automatically get better, especially the older you get. The league is now transitioning quickly to a fast paced run up and down the court, and that doesn’t bode well for Duncan.
Earlier in the year, Duncan missed a series of games that had no timetable for return, while he rehabbed for a couple of weeks after tweaking his knee. Coach Pop made it clear he wouldn’t rush him back, and made it clear he’s out until he’s ready to play again. Pop told ESPN:
“I don’t do timetables.They never work, because of what [the situation becomes], But you said it was gonna be [ready]. When he’s ready, he’s ready”.
That required the Spurs to have depth to compensate, which they did with the addition of David West, alongside Boris Diaw, LaMarcus Aldridge and Boban Marjanovich.
Despite almost having the exact same roster, the Spurs are minus Diaw and West , which would mean less rest for Duncan, possibly even more in season rehab, and with the depth charts, and youth not looking much better in the back court, it’s not hard to imagine Duncan would not be called on more often than not, even with Pau Gasol on deck. Less rest days means more fatigue, higher chance of injury, etc.
Duncan is 40 years old, and would be 41 years old by the time the playoffs come back around. It’s even tougher for an older player to get through the grind of an 82 game NBA season. When the great Michael Jordan once came back to play during the age of 39, Shaquille O’neal gave a one-liner that holds true about injuries and come backs when a player is older.
“I hope they do well. But 39 ain’t the same as 29”.
The reality of it is, he is right, things change over the course of time, and there is a chance mentally that Duncan won’t want to deal with injuries, fatigue, rehab, sitting out and aching joints another year.
When asked about a farewell tour, at the time Kobe Bryant was being revered across NBA arenas, Duncan simply gave a Tim Duncan answer to his idea of having one of his own to the San Antonio Express News:
“Not my deal. Not my style”.
Fans would love to see Duncan get the adulation he never really got during his career, despite being arguably the best power forward to play in the NBA. Duncan himself doesn’t care for it, but that’s the exact same thing that made him who he was. Self-less and out of the spotlight.
Two things can happen, and it’s coming faster than you’d expect. Tim Duncan can accept coming back one more year and give the NBA one more look at someone who gave their all and won in a small market against popular belief, or he will retire because, he just doesn’t want to play basketball anymore.