Tim Duncan, now at 40 years of age, has been a pillar of the NBA for the past 19 years since he was drafted number one overall in 1997.
As a five-time NBA champion, three-time NBA Finals MVP, two-time regular season MVP and 15-time All-Star, The Big Fundamental has made a lasting impact on the league and whenever he does decide to wind down, he can be happy with the legacy he has left.
The Spurs recorded a franchise-best 67-wins last season, but Duncan was left bitterly disappointed as they fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the playoff semi-finals. Many had thought they were a lock to meet the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, but it wasn't to be for Gregg Popovich's men.
Although Duncan averages a double-double over his illustrious career, his minutes, but particularly his production fell quite dramatically last season and it became clear that the grind of the NBA was finally catching up on the legendary forward.
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Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical has reported that Duncan has exercised his player option to return for next season, but that doesn't necessarily mean that he will be a certainty to return at this point.
The career-long Spurs pivot may well follow in Kobe Bryant's footsteps, albeit, much less glamorously, and hang up his sneakers. The report reads:
"San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan has elected to exercise the $5.6 million player option on his 2016-17 contract – but that is not an indication he’ll return for his 20th NBA season, league sources told The Vertical.
"Duncan, 40, is still seriously contemplating his desire to continue playing, as well as judging how his body feels, league sources said. The Spurs are allowing Duncan to make a decision on his own timetable, but there’s no question that this offseason is the most seriously he’s considered retirement."
The Spurs are in a decent place moving forward right now. Back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard is without a doubt the new leader of the team on the court and LaMarcus Aldridge settled in nicely after moving from Portland last year.
Tony Parker will also be around next season and the French point guard, whilst 34-years-old, has slightly more tread left on his well-worn tyres than say Duncan or another long-serving teammate in Manu Ginobili.
What the veterans decide to do could have a major impact on the franchise moving forward. The base is there, but with reported interest in Memphis point guard Mike Conley and a scheduled meeting with Kevin Durant this weekend, they could conceivably become even stronger in the coming weeks, regardless of a legend like Duncan's decision.