The phrase “It’s now or never, fellas” has been a recurring theme throughout South Texas over the past two years. Now it’s all said and done and Tim Duncan has a ring for his thumb, but he’s apparently not satisfied. The San Antonio Spurs’ legend has exercised his player option and will return for the final year of his contract and the 2014-15 NBA season.
San Antonio’s Tim Duncan has decided to opt into the final year of his contract at $10.3M, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 23, 2014
When the Spurs advanced to their fifth NBA Finals in 2013, the “It’s now or never, fellas” phrase began. This was reference to the team’s aging stars and the injury to Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook’s knee, which seemingly opened the door to a last hurrah for the Spurs.
A year later and another Thunder injury — this time to Serge Ibaka — seemed to be one last push to keep the championship window open in San Antonio. Now after Ibaka’s return that didn’t amount to much and a thrashing of the Miami Heat in the 2014 NBA FInals, it’s still not over.
Six times between Duncan’s fourth title and his fifth, the entire basketball world counted the Spurs out. If we kept a tally of every “End of an Era?” headline published between San Antonio’s first-round playoff exit in 2009 and now, we’d have a number that rivals Boris Diaw’s astronomical plus-minus number in the Finals.
Yet after all that ignorant speculation — and all the wowed faces after their fifth title — the Spurs are coming back. At age 38, Duncan will play at least one more season and defy every “ride off into the sunset” remark from here to Timbuktu.
This also affects what the Spurs’ free agents may do this summer. Patty Mills and Diaw will undoubtedly be highly coveted on the market if they choose to explore their options instead of taking Spurs-like deals to stay in San Antonio. Of course, Duncan returning could easily influence one or both of them (and Matt Bonner so we don’t leave him out) to take less money, stay in their current roles and go for back-to-back titles next year.
After the way Mills, Diaw and the other “no-name Spurs” played in the Finals — and considering Duncan’s impressive health — it’s not a stretch to say San Antonio will be back for yet another last hurrah again next year.