When 37-year-old Tim Duncan decides to retire, you can expect Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich to follow suit, writes Dan McCarney of Spurs Nation. Before last night's Game 2 win against the Lakers, the 64-year old coach told reporters about his commitment to the franchise star's playing career:
“When he doesn’t think he can, he’ll stop. It might be in the middle of a game. I can see him walking off the court saying, ‘Nah, I’m not pulling my weight anymore. I’m gone.’ And he’ll walk. And I’ll be right behind him, like this. No pride, no nothing.”
McCarney adds that Duncan's retirement could still be a few years away, considering the former number one overall pick's return to All-Star form this season. In 69 games, Duncan averaged 17.8 PPG, 9.9 RPG, and 2.7 BPG in 30.1 MPG, marking the first time he's reached a 30-minute per game average since the 2009-10 season. His season scoring average represents a progressive two-point improvement each season since 2010-11, and his blocks per game average this year is nearly double the average from last year (1.5) .
ESPN's Marc Stein was on ESPN Radio in Dallas today to discuss all things Mavericks. The Dallas hosts made note of Stein's positive relationship with Dirk Nowitzki, and pressed him on the power forward's mindset six games into his return. Stein said that, amidst the team's 13-20 start, it will be hard to judge how Nowitzki feels about what has transpired in Dallas until after this offseason when, in theory, the Mavs still have the space and motivation to add a Dwight Howard should he or a player of similar stature be available. So while Dirk will play nice for now, Stein says the activity in Dallas will again be a big storyline this offseason.
Here are some additional Southwest Division notes from Stein and other writers around the league:
- Stein adds that a player like DeMarcus Cousins is an ideal target for the Mavericks, given the strength of their organization and pieces to go around him. With Chris Paul content in Los Angeles, Dwight Howard may be the only big chip in play. If the Mavs don't land Howard, Stein says they have to use their cap space by making a trade for a guy with a big contract or a "distressed asset" like Cousins. However, Dallas may not have the assets to land Cousins now, and therefore must hope he is still available come summertime.
- In the wake of Eric Gordon sitting out Wednesday night's game against Houston, John Reid of the Times-Picayune writes that Hornets fans should expect to see their team ease the shooting guard back in until he gets back into game shape. Head coach Monty Williams indicated that while Gordon is fully healthy, he has yet to display the physical shape necessary to withstand the grind of the NBA schedule.
- With the Spurs in New York, Jim Cavan of the New York Times takes a look at the season and career of Tim Duncan. Duncan sure makes an interesting contrast to the flash and dazzle of Madison Square Garden and the Knicks' big-name roster.
The latest news and notes from around the NBA on Sunday evening:
- Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes that the Clippers still aren't sure what contributions they can expect from Lamar Odom this season.
- Tim Duncan is playing like an MVP candidate this season, says Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News.
- David D'Alessandro of the Newark Star-Ledges examines Nets guard Joe Johnson's slow start to the season.
- The Trail Blazers have the least productive bench in the league so far, but Chris Haynes of CSNNW.comthinks the team should give their young reserves more playing time so they can develop and improve.
- Marc Berman of the New York Post writes that the Knicks' J.R. Smith is an early candidate for Sixth Man of the Year.
- Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com has a new mailbag covering various Celtics topics.
- Barry Tramel of the Oklahoman is impressed with new Thunder guard Kevin Martin.
While the NBA's collective bargaining agreement includes certain scenarios in which a team needs a player's approval to trade him, it's rare that an actual no-trade clause is negotiated into a deal. Heading into this summer, only Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki had official no-trade clauses in their contracts.
However, according to Mark Deeks of ShamSports, the number of no-trade provisions in the Association doubled this offseason. Deeks tweets that both Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan have no-trade clauses in their new deals with the Celtics and Spurs, respectively. Both players inked three-year contracts this summer, so they can't be included in trades until those deals expire in the summer of 2015 (or 2014, for Duncan, if he declines his third-year player option).
Of course, it's unlikely that either Garnett or Duncan would have been in danger of being moved even without the no-trade provisions. Duncan has been a Spur for his entire career, while Garnett recently reiterated that he intends to retire as a Celtic.
With the early-July flurry of activity having died down, we have the opportunity now to look back at many of the free agent deals signed earlier this month and see how exactly they'll affect teams' caps for the next few seasons. Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News has the salary details for the handful of contracts signed by the Spurs this month, so let's take a look at what San Antonio will be paying its recent signees….
- Tim Duncan will be paid about $9.64MM this season and $10.36MM in year two, with a $10MM player option for 2014/15. As Mark Deeks of ShamSports points out, the salary decrease for the player option seems to violate CBA rules, so depending on how the league views the deal, Duncan could be in line for a pay bump in year three.
- Danny Green's deal starts at $3.5MM in year one, with 7.5% annual raises for the next two seasons, for a total of $11,287,500. As we heard from Deeks previously, this contract is fully guaranteed, with no options.
- The Spurs signed 2009 draft pick Nando De Colo to a two-year contract worth about $1.4MM in year one and $1.46MM in year two. Since this is larger than a minimum salary, San Antonio presumably used its bi-annual exception to complete the deal.
- Boris Diaw will earn $4.5MM in 2012/13 and $4.69MM in 2013/14, bringing the two-year total of his contract to about $9.19MM.
- The salary details for Patty Mills, who will earn $1,085,120 this season, were already known, but according to Monroe, Mills' second year (at about $1.13MM) is a team option. Deeks had reported that it was a player option, so hopefully we'll get some clarification on the matter one way or the other.
- According to Monroe, the Spurs' total commitments for 2012/13 amount to about $69.13MM, just below the luxury tax threshold.
SUNDAY, 7:11pm: The pact is for 3 years and approximately $30MM according to Yahoo Sports' Marc Spears on Twitter. Spears credits his colleague Johnny Ludden for the report.
WEDNESDAY, 1:53pm: The Spurs officially announced in a press release that they have re-signed Duncan.
TUESDAY, 12:39pm: The contract also includes a no-trade clause, tweets Spears.
12:21pm: Duncan's three-year deal is fully guaranteed and includes a third-year player option, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.
10:51am: Tim Duncan will re-sign with the Spurs on a three-year deal when the moratorium ends, according to Johnny Ludden of Yahoo! Sports. Duncan and the team are finalizing a few details, but have agreed to the structure of the contract, says Ludden.
That Duncan will return to San Antonio isn't surprising — the two-time MVP said himself earlier this year that he was a "Spur for life" and that he wasn't going anywhere. What's a little surprising is the length of the contract. There was some speculation that the 36-year-old Duncan would consider retirement this summer, so three more years is an unexpected commitment.
We're still waiting for the salary details of Duncan's agreement, but Ludden suggests the contract will be in the same neighborhood of Kevin Garnett's three-year, $34MM agreement with the Celtics. The Spurs have also committed to new deals with Danny Green and Boris Diaw in the last couple days, so it seems the core of the team that was eliminated in the Western Conference Finals this season will remain mostly intact.
Tim Duncan is having good contractual talks with the Spurs about re-signing and it’s very unlikely that he will consider another team, sources told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). Then again, it seems like Duncan never thought about leaving San Antonio to begin with. In the middle of the team’s postseason tear, the big man admitted to reporters that he had little interest in testing the open market. Here’s tonight’s look around the Association..
Jameer Nelson decided yesterday to opt out of his contract, which will make him an unrestricted free agent this summer. However, turning down his player option with the Magic doesn't mean Nelson doesn't want to return to Orlando. According to Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld, signing a long-term deal with the Magic is still Nelson's number one goal, and the point guard confirmed as much on Twitter today
"Like I have said over and over," Nelson tweeted. "I'd love to stay a Magic and I would love to play for the best fans in the NBA. And I still have faith that it can happen. So again thanks you guys for all the support."
Here are a few more updates on some soon-to-be free agents….
The Thunder found out on Saturday evening that they'll be taking on the Heat in the NBA Finals beginning on Tuesday in Oklahoma City. The Lakers and Spurs will look to the Thunder to continue an over decade-long trend of Western Conference dominance that began during the 1998/1999 season. With a series victory over Miami, the Thunder will bring the streak of the West winning the Larry O'Brien Trophy to four seasons in a row and 11 of the last 14 overall. Let's catch up on the latest rumors and stories making headlines from around the Western Conference…
- There are many options for the Mavs to pursue this offseason, but signing Deron Williams makes the most sense for the franchise, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. If the Mavs are unable to acquire Williams, Sefko says the team will look to sign two-three reasonably-priced free agents a tier below the superstar level. Plan C, the most conservative approach, would have the Mavs saving money this summer and looking ahead to 2013 when Dwight Howard and Chris Paul will be free agents.
- The Denver Post's Christopher Dempsey says the Nuggets' plans this offseason depend on what type of point guard Ty Lawson wants to become moving forward. Lawson performed as more of a shooting guard during the playoffs against the Lakers while Andre Miller ran the point. Miller, an unrestricted free agent, may return to Denver but could prove to be a hindrance to Lawson's development as he begins his fourth season this fall.
- The question for Tim Duncan heading into the summer isn't whether he'll sign with the Spurs but whether he even wants to return for a 16th season, contends Jeff McDonald of Spurs Nation. The former Wake Forest star will have to determine if taking a pay cut is worth going through the grind of an 82 game season. Duncan is coming off a rejuvenated season in which he averaged 15.4 PPG and 9.0 RPG in a career-low 28.2 minutes per contest.