Gone is any chance they’ll repeat as champions, after losing a humdinger of a Game 7 to Chris Paul and the Clippers, but Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report says San Antonio’s two core players who will be free agents this summer — Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili — will not retire and will come back in some capacity next season to again compete for a title.
Before you start rejoicing, Spurs fans, this is just what Bucher alleges is happening, reporting that all signs point to them re-upping for at least another year. They’ll have to take some pay-cuts to help San Antonio acquire another marquee player in free agency this summer, if it happens. Bucher also says the Spurs will go after a name free agent this summer to buttress their aging squad.
That means LaMarcus Aldridge or Marc Gasol, both of whom have long been rumored as key targets for the Spurs this summer. Just to show you how premature this whole concept is Bucher is reporting, Gasol still isn’t over the loss to the Warriors and hasn’t even begun thinking of July’s free agency feting period. If this whole thing sounds weird, the Spurs involved in two high-profile free agents this summer, it’s because most NBA fans were barely sentient the last time it happened.
But you also have to keep in mind the max contract they’ll be offering 2015 Defensive Player of the Year, Kawhi Leonard. He’s going to get paid, and they shouldn’t even wait to see what offer sheets are out there in restricted free agency. Leonard is a Spurs star already, and it would be an insult if they only matched another team’s offer sheet rather than just giving him the maximum allowable. Plus, it’s smarter for them to lock him up this summer since the cap is jumping next year with all the TV-rights money flooding in (which augments a max offer, so maybe they go the Klay Thompson route and offer up what would be a max, but isn’t really once the cap spikes).
Still, Kawhi will likely be their Designated Player after his rookie-scale deal is up, and that will force some creative accounting if they’re signing Manu and Tim to likely one-year deals to give it another go for a title. They’ll want to save enough room to offer either Gasol or Aldridge the max as well.
All of this is pure speculation at this point since the Spurs don’t even know what Tim and Manu will do, and the players themselves might not even know so soon after the premature — for them, at least — end to their season. Plus, while Bucher has real sources behind the scenes, he’s also the guy who said David Blatt would be fired this offseason regardless of how the Cavs finish.
Even with those real caveats to Bucher’s assessment, while Tim or Manu have seen some of their physical skills deteriorate due to age, it’s not like their presence is a negative for San Antonio. With both playing crucial roles they were one Chris Paul shot away from advancing past the Clippers, and that’s forgetting to mention how flat they were at home in Game 4 with a chance to go up 3-1 in the series (no sure bet to win the series, as the Clippers showed us in the Conference Semifinals, but still).
Tim and Manu should, and hopefully will, make one more go of it. We said the same thing last year, but it’ll continue to be a jolt to the system if we don’t see Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili in the black and grey next season. They’ll be gone soon, but hopefully the 2015-16 season sees them return to continue their fighting against the ravages of time.