Western Notes: Duncan, Durant, Griffin, Nuggets

Kobe Bryant claimed the spotlight with his season-long retirement tour, but Tim Duncan could be wrapping up his career more quietly, suggests Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio-Express News. Duncan will turn 40 on April 25th, a day after Game 4 of the Spurs‘ first-round series with Memphis. He has a player option worth $5.5MM for next season, so it’s possible his career will end with the playoffs. “He’s going to wake up one day and say, ‘I’m done,’” said Manu Ginobili, “and you’re never going to see him again.” Ginobili is 38 and has a $2.94MM player option of his own, meaning two members of San Antonio’s historic Big Three may not return next season.

There’s more tonight from the Western Conference:

  • Kevin Durant managed to prevent his impending free agency from becoming a distraction as he re-established his place among’s the NBA’s top players, writes Michael Lee of The Vertical. The Thunder star kept reminding himself of his elite status as he worked his way back from a broken bone in his right foot that limited him to 27 games last season. “Yeah, I wasn’t around,” Durant said. “And there are two or three players that they kind of talk about as the best. They didn’t really talk about me. It’s not that I was mad or anything like that. I just tried to use all that stuff as extra fuel and I tried to push myself higher.” Durant bounced back to average 28.2 points and 8.2 rebounds this season and will be the top name on the free agent market.
  • The Clippers are happy to have Blake Griffin back for the playoffs, even if he isn’t fully healthy, writes Peter Socotch of CSNNW. Griffin recently returned to the court after being out since Christmas with a partially torn quad tendon. “He’s had not only five games, but he’s had some practice time,” coach Doc Rivers said. “Obviously, it’s not the exact way you would have wanted it, but we’ll take what we can get. We got him back, and that’s better than not getting him back. So I’ll take that.”
  • There are four difficult issues to resolve before the Nuggets can get the “championship results” that coach Michael Malone desires, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. He identifies them as the future of Danilo Gallinari and Jusuf Nurkic, whether to offer a max contract to anyone in free agency and whether to keep three first-rounders and two second-rounders in June’s draft.

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