After 19 years with the San Antonio Spurs, Tim Duncan decided to hang up his sneakers and call it a day on his NBA career. Without doubt, the 40-year-old will go down in history as one of the greatest players to grace a basketball court but his beloved Spurs will now have to adjust and cope without their inspirational power forward.
Duncan was incredibly influential during his time at San Antonio, leading the franchise to five NBA titles and a phenomenal 12 divisional crowns. In fact, he formed a very close relationship with Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and both men have been key to San Antonio’s success over the last couple of decades.
With Duncan gone, Popovich will now expect the younger members of his squad to step up to the plate and make a name for themselves in the NBA. San Antonio have been one of the elite NBA sides for quite some time and it would be sad to see the Spurs fall down the ladder; just as the Los Angeles Lakers have done in recent times.
San Antonio fans will now turn to Kawhi Leonard for inspiration – and with good reason. The Spurs star has matured into a fine talent in the NBA and he is a real fan favourite at AT&T Center. With the right guidance and training under Popovich’s watchful eye, Leonard could be the ‘next big thing’ at San Antonio; if the 2014 NBA Finals MVP wasn’t already regarded as an elite member of this Spurs set-up.
At the time of writing, Popovich’s side are priced at 8/1 with Betway to win the NBA title this season and plenty of punters will expect the Spurs to challenge for silverware despite Duncan’s retirement. Whilst the San Antonio veteran was still phenomenal defensively last season; in fact, he was the second best in the NBA behind Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut, Duncan struggled to live up to the hype on offense.
The Spurs needed fresh blood and his retirement came at a good time for all parties. San Antonio were in a tricky situation; they knew that Duncan was no longer able to play at his very best but couldn’t be seen to cut a franchise legend. Meanwhile, Duncan didn’t want to hang around and negatively impact San Antonio’s chances of success – so all in all, the announcement was beneficial for everyone, particularly as the Spurs were able to acquire Pau Gasol from the Chicago Bulls during the offseason.
— Moke Hamilton (@MokeHamilton) August 22, 2016
With six-time NBA All-Star Gasol now showcasing his talent in San Antonio, the Spurs have an elite talent to help fill Duncan’s void. At 36 years old, he isn’t the long term solution but Popovich will have somebody in mind for that particular project. At the moment, San Antonio’s main task is to steady the ship and adapt to life without Duncan. Then, and only then, will the Spurs begin to think about attempting to build another dynasty era at AT&T Center.
Only time will tell but the Spurs look like they could compete for the crown again this season – and that is testament to the franchise’s ability to prepare for various scenarios. In a way, Gregg Popovich is the Bill Belichick of the NBA and Tim Duncan was his Tom Brady. But San Antonio will live on and a sixth championship may be right around the corner.