The San Antonio Spurs are heading into a new era this season without their legendary big three for the first time in over two decades.
Manu Ginobili recently followed Tim Duncan into retirement and Tony Parker chose to take up a new challenge by signing with the Charlotte Hornets in free agency.
Head coach Gregg Popovich can be considered as the last man standing and he'll have a huge task reinventing the team.
Keeping them competitive in a loaded Western Conference won't be easy but Ginobili is confident that Popovich is good enough to do it.
The Argentinian believes the legendary coach can turn the current Spurs team into title contenders.
“It’s going to be a challenge to learn more about the new guys and see what buttons to push,” Ginobili said, according to Michael C. Wright of ESPN.
“With us, it was already too easy. He knew us so well.
"I think it’s going to be a great challenge for him, having a different kind of team, maybe less corporate knowledge, but still young with energy and wanting to prove a lot of things.
"It’s going to be a fun challenge. I think he’s going to do good.”
Passing the torch
The Spurs will now have to rely on All-Star duo LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan to carry the team forward.
They acquired the former in the blockbuster trade of the offseason that saw them reluctantly offload Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors.
Aldridge and DeRozan are certainly good enough to keep San Antonio relevant and to challenge for a playoff spot.
But at 33 and 29, respectively, they're heading towards the latter stages of their careers and it might be important for the franchise to look towards the future.
However, they do have some promising young players that could help take the team forward such as starting point guard Dejounte Murray and this year's number 18 draft pick Lonnie Walker.
The team's future will also depend largely on Popovich and how much longer he wants to continue coaching in the NBA.
He will take over from Mike Krzyzewski as the head coach of Team USA at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
There are reports that this could be his final campaign in the league as he may want to spend a year to prepare for the showpiece event.
It's clear that we'll definitely learn a lot more about the direction of the Spurs in the next 12 months.
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