The San Antonio Spurs crashed out of the postseason last night after falling to the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-99 in game six of their Western Conference semi-final series, and already, attentions have turned to the futures of some of their stars.
After recording a franchise best regular season of 67-15, many believed a Spurs and Golden State Warriors matchup in the Western Conference Finals was a forgone conclusion. The Thunder dispatching Gregg Popovich's men in six games wasn't part of the script and given the veteran roster in San Antonio, it's not the fairytale ending they might have been hoping for either.
Two long-time Spurs stalwarts, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, were immediately questioned about their futures at the AT&T Arena in the aftermath of their playoff series loss, and Duncan gave a typically stoic and concise answer.
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"I'll get to that after I get out of here and figure out life," Duncan insisted. "That's it."
While the 40-year-old Duncan wasn't entertaining speculation in the wake of a painful loss, his 38-year-old teammate of 14 years, Ginobili, decided to offer some insight into the franchise as a whole and what drives him to keep playing.
"Of course, it's been an amazing run," said Ginobili. "We all enjoy playing with each other. I'm so proud of having played with those guys for so many years and winning so many games, and even playing with the new guys.
"If there's a reason why you always want to come back and keep being part of this, [it's] because of the amazing chemistry, the good times and the good people that you play with and spend time with. It's not always about winning a game or winning a championship.
"But you learn from losses, and it's important to enjoy every day. Being a part of this team, I'm very proud of it, even if sometimes it doesn't go our way," Ginobili finished.
Popovich acted surprised when a reporter queried if we had just seen the last game of Duncan's 19-year NBA career. Pop insisted his loyal forward was on the floor because of his contribution, not sentiment.
"Why do you say that?" Popovich asked. "Do you know something that I don't know? I just wanted to make that clear. Tim was playing really well. So we played him as much as we possibly could because he earned the minutes. He really did a good job."
Both men have player options for the 2016-17 season and should they exercise those deals, the Spurs wouldn't incur a massive hit to their expanding cap space. The option total on Duncan's deal is $6.4 million, while Ginobili's option total sits at $2.9 million.