Dominance can't last forever and everyone knows it. David Robinson was sure of the fact, and so hung up his sneaks after securing his NBA Finals ring. Pretty soon, Tim Duncan will do the same. Duncan has had a super career, one of the best ever, but how long will it be before he retires and leaves the San Antonio Spurs in disarray? Who will fill the shoes of one of the all-time greats?
No one for now, it seems. The Spurs currently have five players 6’10” or taller: Robert Horry, Fabricio Oberto, Matt Bonner, Tim Duncan, Kurt Thomas, and Ian Mahinmi.
Thomas, Duncan, and Oberto (who has fell out of coach Greg Popovich's rotation as of late) are all are 32 or older and each has at least five year's experience.
The lone exceptions to the 30 year or older club is Ian Mahinmi, a extremely raw prospect from France who didn't log a single minute in the 2008-09 season. The other being Matt Bonner who will turn 30 in April, signaling yet another barometer of just how old the Spurs really are.
But none of the players mentioned above have anywhere near the skill level capable of compensating for the loss of Duncan once he leaves.
They can part ways with the other members of the Big Three (Parker and Ginobili) to snatch a big man and if they decide to take these actions my bet is that Manu Ginobili goes first. There are currently several options at both power forward and the center position that are out on the market including the likes of Samuel Dalembert, Brendan Haywood, Amare' Stoudemire, and Andrew Bogut.
Another area they can improve in would be through the NBA Draft, which occurs annually in June, but there seems to be one major complication in this logic.
A team with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili will never be bad enough to complete a season as a lottery team, and the same can be said about a Greg Popovich-coached team. Even if you were to discount Duncan as if he retired or if any of the Big Three missed significant time due to injuries, as they did this season.
The trio combined to miss 56 games this season and still finished third in the Western Conference in a statistical dead heap with the Denver Nuggets in terms of winning percentage. With a healthy Ginobili, the Spurs have a chance of competing for the Top overall seed in the West further clouding any chances of landing a high pick.
We know that their talented, aged, and experienced however there is one thing we are unaware of.
How far San Antonio is willing to commit to getting younger? A feat that all dynasties must come to terms with, like the Celtics, Lakers, and Rockets of the 80's and the 90's had to.
The Rockets' in particular had a trio similar to that of the Spurs. At one point they had an equation of Steve Francis, Scottie Pippen, and Hakeem Olajuawon (don't forget a still competent Charles Barkley) in the 90's and the members eventually wasted away before Houston was awarded with the No. 1 pick who they used on Yao Ming.
What will happen with the Spurs? We will soon find out.