This season, in broader context
When Tim Duncan began to decline (some decline, huh?), the popular line had it that the Spurs’ decline would mirror that of their franchise player. The logic was straightforward: as Duncan goes, so goes the Spurs. We’ve learned that isn’t the case. My worry was more nuanced.
You’ve heard me say it before, but the Spurs’ ability to attract a championship supporting cast was fueled by veterans who signed on for an opportunity to chase a championship alongside Tim Duncan. Duncan was the draw. Not the city of San Antonio. And never the promise of more money. It was always Tim Duncan.
The draw is the opportunity to play in Gregg Popovich’s system. It’s Tony Parker. It’s Spurs culture. It’s Pop himself.
It’s the confidence that the front office can always shore things up by adding a Gary Neal, Tiago Splitter or Kawhi Leonard. It’s the confidence that the front office will manage its books and never the saddle the team with a cancerous contract. It’s the confidence in the ability to improve through the internal development of guys like Danny Green.
The Spurs have it figured out. Players understand this.
Add yet another championship to the list…and, yeah, San Antonio will continue along as an attractive destination for I-Want-to-Win free agents.
Eventually replacing Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili is a tall order, but we’ve learned that it’s not an impossible one. The Spurs are already showing the way forward. The future is a happy place.
The Spurs have already transitioned beyond their last championship era, the one built around a dominant Duncan and worldclass defense. We’re not at the end of those days. A new day is already here.
So when the conversation comes around to “How much longer can the Spurs put great teams on the floor?”, the answer is not two or three years. And, with no disrespect to Tim Duncan, the answer is no longer, “Duncan is the window”.
The correct answer? Indefinitely.