Tim Duncan Comments on Future After Spurs' Loss vs. Thunder

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistMay 13, 2016

May 12, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan (21) fights for position with Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) during the first quarter in game six of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs big man Tim Duncan was predictably coy while speaking about his future Thursday night after the Oklahoma City Thunder captured a 113-99 Game 6 win at Chesapeake Energy Arena and dispatched the Western Conference's No. 2 seed from the postseason.

"I'll get to that after I get out of here," Duncan said in the locker room, according to Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding.

CBS Sports NBA relayed video footage of Duncan addressing questions about a potential return to the floor:

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich also toed the company line.

"Why do you say that?" he asked a reporter when pressed about Duncan's future, according to Yahoo Sports' Ben Rohrbach. "Do you know something I don’t know. I just wanted to make that clear."

On Friday, Popovich continued to avoid questions about Duncan, per Fred Katz of the Norman Trascript:

If Duncan decides to call it quits after 19 NBA seasons, he would be turning down a player option for $5.6 million, per Spotrac.

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But whether Thursday night was Duncan's final game or not, the 40-year-old legend acquitted himself nicely against a stout Thunder front line. After playing just 40 minutes combined in Games 4 and 5, Duncan tallied 19 points (7-of-14 shooting) and pulled down five rebounds in 34 minutes.

The Spurs also had a team-best plus-12 point differential with Duncan on the floor Thursday night. 

Although Duncan experienced statistical slippage a year after looking remarkably spry, he continued to serve as a net positive for the Spurs on the defensive end of the floor. While the team's offense was 1.3 points better per 100 possessions with him on the bench during the regular season, per NBA.com's lineup data, San Antonio's league-best defense allowed a meager 93.8 points per 100 possessions while he was on the floor.

Duncan also held postseason opponents to 35.9 percent shooting from the field inside of six feet when he was their primary defender, according to NBA.com's player-tracking data. For a guy who didn't appear to have much spring left in his legs, that's not too shabby. 

Tim Duncan's Last 5 Seasons
SeasonGamesMPGPPGRPGFG%PER
2011-125828.215.49.049.2%22.5
2012-136930.117.89.950.2%24.4
2013-147429.215.19.749.0%21.3
2014-157728.913.99.151.2%22.6
2015-166125.28.67.348.8%16.9
Source: Basketball-Reference.com

"The fountain of youth, he's found it," Thunder center Steven Adams said after Game 6, per ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon. "He's still good."

The legendary center admitted to ESPN's Bruce Bowen he has a hard time relating to younger players (via William Lue of TheScore):

"I wish I could be that, be that profound, and say yes, but no," Duncan said through a chuckle. "Half the kids I can't relate to. They walk in here and are like 'Hey, I had your poster on my wall when I was five.' I'm like 'Man, shut up. I don't want to talk to you.'" 

So while Duncan may not have conventional box-score numbers that point to a profound impact, he's still capable of making his presence felt in spurts. 

And considering the Spurs continue to view him as an invaluable role model, he can still offer plenty of assistance even when he's not on the hardwood.

"He's been a great teammate for me," MVP runner-up Kawhi Leonard said, per MacMahon. "He's helped me grow a lot. We'll see what happens."