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:
R.C. on Duncan's status: "I don't see any reason, watching him play, why he can't continue to be a great player. He'll make that decision."— Dan McCarney (@danmccarneysaen) June 16, 2014
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:
"It will come to an end but I don't think next year. I think everybody's gonna come back." -@tonyparker— NBA TV (@NBATV) June 16, 2014
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:
Question for Duncan: In terms of retirement, wouldn’t it be hard to walk away from this? Duncan: “Uh, yeah.”— Brett Pollakoff (@BrettEP) June 16, 2014
And in typical Spurs fashion, he spent most of his microphone time praising his teammates:
Duncan: "I'm honored to be on this team right now, with the future Kawhi has."— Dan McCarney (@danmccarneysaen) June 16, 2014
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.
Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich share a laugh, then Tony Parker pours champagne on Tim https://t.co/PIp801dZk1— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) June 16, 2014
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.
Crazy to think Tim Duncan just needs to hold on for six more years to become first player to win titles in four different decades.— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) June 16, 2014
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.