The most recent San Antonio Spurs news suggests that assistant coach and franchise cornerstone Tim Duncan is staying home as the season resumes in Florida.
There’s been lots of speculation as to which San Antonio Spurs players and coaches would stay out of the NBA’s Walt Disney World Bubble in Orlando, FL. Head coach Gregg Popovich, whose age puts him at risk of COVID-19, has officially opted in. However, former All-NBA big man LaMarcus Aldridge will remain in San Antonio to rehab from shoulder surgery.
An underrated component of the season has been the presence of assistant coach Tim Duncan. In his first season being on the sideline instead of being in the lineup, Timmy provided a ton of guidance for the team’s young bigs. His workouts and knowledge of the sport’s complexities have been a crucial force for this team through its ups and downs.
According to News 4 San Antonio sports director and anchor Don Harris, an esteemed staple of Spurs media, Timmy will not enter the NBA’s Bubble. According to his tweet, Duncan was selected as one of multiple Spurs staffers to remain in the River City to oversee the rehabilitation program in place for the recovering Aldridge.
I can confirm that Spurs Asst. coach Tim Duncan is NOT with the team in Orlando. Spurs tell me Tim and a few members of the medical and performance group are directing LaMarcus Aldridge’s rehabilitation program.
— Don Harris (@DonHarris4) July 13, 2020
To me, that sounds like an excuse to let Timmy stay home with his wife and children. Duncan is not a medical professional and Aldridge has been in the league for 14 seasons, so he doesn’t need to have his hand held through shoulder rehab. This is just speculation, but I can see a scenario in which Duncan expressed his discomfort with entering the bubble, where he’d remain for at least a month since it’s a safety concern that would take him away from his family.
When he was first brought back as an assistant, it was expected that Duncan’s role would be minimal. Over the course of the season, he took on a way larger role including his first and only game as a head coach against the Charlotte Hornets. Popovich sat out due to personal business that he needed to tend to and since Timmy was the scout for that game, he got the nod.
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COVID-19 was never on the radar back then and now that it’s forced the NBA into a confined space for an extended period of time, it put Duncan in an uncomfortable position. Letting him play with LaMarcus to keep each other company and sharp on the court is a good way to pay respects to the organization’s cornerstone while keeping him on the payroll.
Duncan’s absence leads the way for assistant Becky Hammon to presume the lead assistant role on the bench. She’s considered by many to be the leading candidate to become the first woman to become a head coach in the NBA and Spurs fans adore her. They’ve campaigned for her to take Popovich’s job when he retires and this could be a great chance for her to take the clipboard.
These are unusual times that call for unorthodox measures, but the Spurs can use it to their advantage. Even if they fall out of the playoff race early, San Antonio can use their eight games to get Becky’s feet wet and help the young core play against legitimate NBA competition.
Only two and a half weeks remain until the games begin once more.