After what was his worst statistical season as a pro, Tim Duncan announced he would exercise his player option, but is still undecided about playing in the 2016-17 season, per Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. The option is worth roughly $5.64 million, according to Spotrac.
The 40-year-old Duncan is a shell of his former self, but the Spurs run their organization so masterfully that it almost didn’t matter. Despite averaging career-lows in points (8.6), rebounds (7.3), blocks (1.3), and minutes (25.2), San Antonio marched to a 67-win season before being bounced in the second round of the playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Although he passed his torch to Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, Duncan still had a huge impact on both ends of the court. According to the NBA, San Antonio was +14.2 points per 100 possessions with Duncan on the floor, and +9.3 with him off, a net difference of +4.9.
Still having an impact with a perennial contender at 40 is a huge feat, but Woj’s report also states Duncan is seriously considering retirement this summer and will make the decision after listening to what his body tells him. The Spurs are aware of this and are not forcing Duncan into a rash decision.
If he were to return, the two-time MVP would likely see an even lesser role than this year as Leonard continues to get even better, and Aldridge gets even more comfortable in his second season. San Antonio also has a bunch of players who are still young and can crack next season’s rotation, so they’ll have production no matter what.
Duncan, much like recent retiree Kobe Bryant, put together a resume that rivals all-time greats, and The Big Fundamental is widely-regarded as the best power forward ever. There’s always the chance he’ll come back because of the chance to win a sixth ring, but Duncan has given his all to this game.
Because of the type of personality Duncan has, the decision to retire would more than likely be made before the start of the season. Doing so would avoid the treatment that Kobe Bryant got when he announced his retirement last November, it was essentially a party prior to every game the Lakers played in as the league reflected on the career of the Mamba.
Duncan, as soft-spoken and recluse as they come, would prefer to ride quietly into the sunset with his five championship rings and two MVPs.