It finally happened: The San Antonio Spurs made it back to the top of the basketball world with the same core that has driven the NBA’s model franchise for the greater part of the past two decades. Thus, it’s over. Right? Isn’t this actually the last hurrah for the Spurs, who were counted out numerous times over the past seven years? Don’t bet on that.
During his post-game press conference following the Spurs’ 104-87 win over the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Tim Duncan alluded to the decision he has to make by June 24 of whether to exercise his player option and return for the final year of his contract. However, the media members in the room didn’t take the bait.
Then, just before Duncan and his two children left the room to celebrate San Antonio’s fifth title, someone asked Timmy if it would be hard to walk away from a team that could easily contend for a sixth championship next season. Duncan looked bewildered by the question before responding with an annoyed, one-word answer:
So basically, we’re still stuck in limbo. Duncan truly hasn’t made up his mind, but strong speculation in San Antonio is that the 38-year-old legend will come back for one more run. If that happens, what about the rest of the team?
Among the players on the Spurs’ playoff roster, only three are not under contract for the 2014-15 NBA season: Boris Diaw, Patty Mills and Matt Bonner. San Antonio still has plenty of salary cap room to bring back all three, assuming the former two don’t want to leave for bigger contracts from other teams.
After his performance in this year’s playoffs, Mills could easily get a nice contract for a starting point guard from over half the teams in the NBA and will likely get several such offers if he chooses to entertain them. The Spurs proved in the postseason, and specifically the Finals, they need a backup point guard for Tony Parker as talented as Mills. Of course, Mills has to be willing to stay in his current role going forward, which will likely include increased minutes next year as Parker continues to age.
At 32, Diaw definitely opened the eyes of many teams with his incredible play on both ends of the floor in the 2013 and 14 Finals. He could easily get overpaid by a team desperate for a spark and then finish his career with a lot of money on a squad that doesn’t win much. After making almost $5 million this past year with the Spurs, Diaw could come back in the exact same role — one the Spurs need — for a simliar price, but San Antonio can’t and won’t give him the high dollar he might get from a bad team with a lot of money to spend.
Bonner will be back with the Spurs for the veteran minimum next season; you can take that to the bank.
As for the rest of this year’s title team, Parker has one more year left on his deal, which will undoubtedly be extended before the 2015 NBA season and Manu Ginobili is in the same boat; Kawhi Leonard has two years left to sign an extension; Danny Green and Marco Belinelli each have a year left; and Tiago Splitter is under contract through 2017.
So basically, all the signs are pointing to next year being the true last hurrah for the Spurs, assuming Diaw and Mills re-sign this offseason. Of course, all of this also hinges on Duncan exercising his player option, but San Antonio’s seemingly improbable fifth championship isn’t even 24 hours old yet and it’s already looking like this isn’t the Spurs’ final run.
Nothing is set in stone yet, but don’t be surprised to see this same Spurs squad doing what they do best yet again next season without saying much in the process.
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