ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported the news:
Duncan has until June 24 to notify the team whether he intends to pick up his $10.3 million player option for next season, according to sources familiar with the terms of the contract.
Sources say the Spurs, to this point, are quietly operating under the assumption that Duncan and Popovich will indeed be back next season.
That's really as much as anyone has to go on at this point.
Popovich, when asked prior to Game 5 if he wanted to return next season, offered some insight into what he's thinking:
When Duncan was asked of his plans, he offered a very Tim Duncan-like answer:
Prior to Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Duncan told reporters, "I don't know when I'm going to retire. I don't know what the factors are going to be. I don't know any of that and I don't care about any of that stuff right now. It will happen when it happens."
But there's good reason to speculate it could happen sooner rather than later, should the Spurs finish off the Miami Heat. They currently hold a 3-1 lead, a deficit from which no team has returned in the Finals.
As Bleacher Report's Dan Favale notes, "Fifth title in hand, Duncan could walk away for good, retiring the way his former running mate David Robinson did: on top."
Rumors and speculation have swirled around Duncan's immediate future all season long. Back in February, former head coach George Karl told SportsCenter (h/t CBSSports.com's Royce Young) that he "got a couple of phone calls, one from San Antonio, that said that Tim Duncan's thinking this is going to be his last year."
The Big Fundamental has been in the league since 1997. His run with the Spurs has been historically successful, especially when taking longevity into account.
Nevertheless, the 38-year-old continues to look pretty spry for his age. There are no physical reasons he couldn't play another year—perhaps even longer if he so chose.
The real question is how much he wants to continue playing. Is he interested in weathering another long, mentally taxing season? His body can handle it, but his desire to play the game could be a different story. Only Duncan will be able to answer those questions.
Sometime before June 24, to be exact.
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