Spurs captain Tim Duncan has exercised the $5.6 million second-year option in the contract he signed with the club last summer, but that does not guarantee he will back on the court for a 20th season.
A league source confirmed a report by The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Duncan, who turned 40 during the Spurs playoff run this spring, had informed the Spurs he would exercise the option that guarantees his salary should he elect to continue playing. However, the source also confirmed that Duncan has not yet decided between continuing his playing career or retiring.
Certain to be a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee, Duncan’s production dropped precipitously last season. He turned in career lows in scoring (8.6 points per game), rebounds (7.3) and blocked shots (1.3). His numbers dipped even more during the playoffs, when he averaged only 5.9 points and 4.8 rebounds. A right knee injury that necessitated use of a brace through the final three months of the regular season and into the playoffs likely limited his effectiveness. He has worn a brace on his surgically repaired left knee for nearly a decade.
Duncan long has maintained that he would continue playing as long as he was enjoying the game and making a positive contribution to the Spurs. However, he acknowledged last summer that his decision to return for his 19th season had been more difficult than most had believed. And that was after a season in which he averaged 13.9 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.
Free agency begins at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Thursday, and the Spurs have been mentioned in numerous reports as one of the teams prime free agent Kevin Durant will consider. A four-time NBA scoring champion, the Thunder star is to receive contingents from at least five teams, including the Spurs. Duncan last summer participated in the recruitment of center LaMarcus Aldridge when he held a series of meetings with potential new teams. He is expected to play a similar role in the team’s talks with Durant. A Wednesday report on ESPN.com had the Spurs scheduled for a Saturday sit-down with Durant. The report said Durant will visit first with the Thunder, on Wednesday, and then begin meetings with other teams on Thursday, beginning with the Golden State Warriors.
Top image: Spurs Power Forward Tim Duncan stretches moments before a game against the Grizzlies during the Western Conference Semifinals. Photo by Scott Ball.