San Antonio Spurs: 6 Replacement Plans for the Spurs Without Tim Duncan
The San Antonio Spurs seem poised to make one more title run as the season winds to a close. Tim Duncan's status remains up in the air, as he has the choice to either retire, test free agency or re-sign with the Spurs.
Next year, while it is very unlikely, Duncan may no longer be a member of the team that has been built around him for the past era.
Many wonder whether or not another championship will help Duncan end his career satisfied with his achievements.
The other, more unlikely option is that the legendary power forward decides to test free agency and sign elsewhere. While this is unlikely, nothing is impossible, and a possible departure—whether by retirement or free agency—would leave the Spurs with a void in need of filling.
In this scenario, it would be wise for the Spurs to take a look towards these free agents, whose style and talent make them ideal candidates to be the team's back-up plan, in case Duncan leaves.
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Poor Kris Humphries.
For the second straight season, the power forward from New Jersey finds his name in the top five in terms of rebounding, not to mention the fact that he also finds his way to the basket, averaging double-figure points to help fill out his stat line.
Despite these impressive stats, Humphries does not receive the respect he deserves, both on and off the basketball court.
However, the unrestricted free agent's luck may finally turn for the better. As his contract expires, the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets do not seem to picture Humphries in their future. Reports say that the team is eyeing either Kevin Garnett or Ersan Ilyasova as a potential offseason addition.
Humphries will therefore test free agency, and it would be very surprising if he doesn't land somewhere with a decent contract. After all, he is a consistent double-double guy. And who better to replace Tim Duncan with than someone like Humphries?
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Kaman's name found itself among the many rumors that circulated around the league during the trade deadline. However, the New Orleans big man stayed put as the deadline passed, guaranteeing that he would finish the season as a member of the roster.
At the end of the season, Kaman will be an unrestricted free agent.
Currently, Kaman is averaging 13.1 ppg and 7.7 rpg, a pair of stats that fill up the stat sheet fairly well. If the Hornets look to dump Kaman's contract, and shift their focus towards rebuilding, Kaman may find himself in another team's colors by the start of next season.
The Spurs were rumored as possible suitors if Kaman was to be bought out, and if he enters free agency, he may very well find himself in San Antonio next year.
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Kenyon Martin was another player who joined a new roster in the midst of the season. After leaving China, Martin took his talents to "Lob City," where he joined Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan as the "big" men on campus.
At the end of the current season, Martin's contract expires, making him fair game for any team looking to pursue him.
Martin has not made a big impact with Los Angeles this year, and if the team does not elect to re-sign him, the Spurs would make a perfect candidate for him.
As a 6'9'' veteran, few organizations better suit a player like him than the San Antonio Spurs. They looked to add him when he first became available, and if they can steal him for little money, the acquisition makes perfect sense.
As a strong, defensive presence, Martin would replace Duncan well, at least for the time being.
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Last year, many fans would raise an eyebrow at the sound of Ilyasova's name. Despite posting decent stats (9.5 ppg and 6.1 rpg), Ilyasova's value did not sky rocket until this year.
Now after emerging as a top big man in every aspect of the game, Ilyasova is one of the contenders for the league's Most Improved award.
His contract expires at the end of this season, and while certain teams certainly have their eye on the young big man, few destinations are as pleasing as San Antonio. In a team led by Gregg Popovich, the Spurs run one of the best organizations in the league, full of players from around the world.
The Turkish forward would be a great addition to the team, as he has already shown the extent to which he is improving, and the talent he already possesses.
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Philadelphia had a very promising start this season, as did Spencer Hawes.
The 23-year-old seven-footer began and continued the 2012-13 campaign as one of the Sixers' better players. However, the team has lost their stride and do not possess the threat they originally did.
Hawes becomes an unrestricted free agent over the summer, and if given the opportunity, he may elect to sign with a stronger team.
Philadelphia runs a similar "teamwork" organization that Pop uses in San Antonio, and if acquired, Hawes would quickly become a prime contributor for the Spurs. The team lacks a big presence, and if Duncan were to leave or retire, the team would be in dire need of one to replace him.
Hawes is the perfect candidate, filling both the size and talent needs, making him a great signing for the Spurs.
Further Develop Tiago Splitter
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While other teams may beat out the Spurs in free agency for other players, one thing is almost certain: Tiago Splitter will still be a Spur by the start of the next season.
After struggling his rookie year, Splitter has emerged as a strong player in his sophomore campaign, and he's showing similarities to Duncan already.
His defense, post-game dominance, passing ability and IQ give him Duncan-like qualities, and if developed further, he could be a top talent. He runs the pick and roll as well as anyone, and if his game were to be polished, he may be able to replace Duncan for the long run.
With the help of Popovich and Duncan, Splitter will continue to improve. The extent to which is unknown, but if his minutes are increased, Splitter may eventually grow into an elite player.