Duncan has a $10 million player option next season, and you'd have to assume Spurs general manager R.C. Buford has a good handle on which way his franchise cornerstone is leaning. After all, the Spurs are nothing if not prepared.
So, it's probably good news to those who enjoy beautiful basketball, dynasties and dad jeans that Buford thinks Timmy is coming back:
Buford is right: Duncan is still a ridiculously effective player. He averaged 15.4 points and 10.0 rebounds in 33 minutes per game during the Finals, defending the floor-stretching Chris Bosh effectively and even flashing some vintage post moves against Udonis Haslem in Game 5.
Tony Parker, who's been playing alongside Duncan since 2002, is also optimistic:
As for Duncan himself, well...as usual, he's not in any hurry to open up to the media. Instead of offering complete assurances he'd be back, Duncan kept things short:
And in typical Spurs fashion, he spent most of his microphone time praising his teammates:
Duncan is a surefire Hall of Famer, and probably would have been if he'd retired six or seven years ago. He's the greatest player of his generation, a five-time champ and the centerpiece of a dynasty that has spanned three different decades.
But another ring would give him six, tying him with Michael Jordan. And while that milestone might be tempting for some players, you get the sense that if Duncan returns for his 18th season, he'll do it because he loves the game, his teammates and, of course, his coach.
San Antonio's roster will be as good as ever next year, and after seeing it completely dominate the regular season and playoffs, there's plenty of reason to believe another title is in the cards.
Maybe that's why some observers are (somewhat jokingly) looking ahead to what Timmy might be able to do in the coming seasons.
A little extreme? Perhaps.
But Duncan didn't play like a guy ready to retire this year, and those closest to him are optimistic about (at least) one more run.
Here's hoping we get it.
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