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George Karl says he heard “whispers” this could be Tim Duncan’s last season

Feb 18, 2014, 1:49 PM EDT

San Antonio Spurs v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

Tim Duncan wasn’t an All-Star this season mostly because he didn’t want to be, the other coaches around the NBA knew that and went with younger faces. But he is still as solid as ever — 15.6 points a game, 10 rebounds a night, a true shooting percentage of 53.6 and a PER of 22. He’s still elite.

But after 17 years he may be done. Check out what George Karl said on ESPN (video below, hat tip to Project Spurs):

“You know over the weekend, that was the whispers that I got. I got a couple of phone calls, one from San Antonio that said that Tim Duncan’s thinking this is going to be his last year. The best, most fundamental big guy ever to play in the NBA, and he leaving would make me very very sad. The San Antonio Spurs without Tim Duncan would be very difficult for me to watch.”

Duncan signed an extension back in 2012 for three years at $30 million, and this last season is a player option.

It would be very Duncan to just decide to leave, but the Spurs have him, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker all under contract for this season and next, the idea that they would make a couple more runs at it with this core plus Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter, then the Spurs would rebuild.

He’s not a public person, he’s not going to talk about what he’s thinking. Maybe after the disappointment of last playoffs and the long grind of this season he’s considering retirement. That said. Duncan may be tired but I’m not sure he walks away from his teammates and organization like that (not that they would hold it against him). I would think he’d finish out his contract.

However, Karl is connected and this would not be totally out of the blue.

  1. azarkhan - Feb 18, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    Manu, Tony and Pop won’t let him leave.

    • legend30 - Feb 18, 2014 at 2:18 PM

      Tony and Pop won’t let him leave, Manu needs to leave.

  2. cowboysfaninbuffalove - Feb 18, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    George Karl please come back to the Nuggets….Shaw is ruining what you started….

  3. spursareold - Feb 18, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    It would be COMPLETELY Duncanesque to walk away with one year left on his deal. He’s really not the type for a victory lap/farewell tour.

  4. Big Ant TV - Feb 18, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    if he leaves he will be missed 1997 seems so long ago but watched his career a tru legwnd

  5. ProBasketballPundit - Feb 18, 2014 at 5:07 PM

    I hate that “most fundamental” is the best compliment we can think of for Duncan. He has been an elite defensive stopper his entire career. In 17 seasons with Duncan the Spurs have had a top 5 defense (in efficiency) 14 times. Other three are 8th, 10th, 11th. That’s pure excellence as a team and it starts with the Big Fundamental.

    Duncan is currently 20th all time in points scored, 13th in rebounds, and 7th in blocks. He’s a first ballot hall of famer, 4-time champion, 3-time Finals MVP (would be 4 if they counted defense equally), 2-time league MVP, and a true professional. When Tim missed that “bunny” in the paint in game 7 of the 2013 Finals and slammed the ground as he got back on defense, I truly felt terrible for him. The old Spurs played so well they’re practically co-champions. I regret only recently jumping on their bandwagon. They’ve been fantastic for a long time. (How many 50-win seasons in a row?)

    • spursareold - Feb 18, 2014 at 5:44 PM

      Fourteen 50 win seasons in a row. That’s a record. If you count the 50 win equivalent, percentage-wise in ’99, it’s 16. If you disregard that, it’s still 18 out of 20, including the 50 wins in 66 games in the latest lockout season.

      San Antonio has only missed the playoffs 4 times since joining the NBA in 1976.

      • ProBasketballPundit - Feb 18, 2014 at 5:58 PM

        I definitely count the 37-13 season. At the same pace they would have won 60 games in a standard season. At the very least you can’t break up the streak because of it… nobody could go 50-0. So… that’s incredible. I live in Charlotte. The original Hornets had a streak of 12 straight non-losing seasons and I was ecstatic about that. We even sold out 388 straight home games before George Shinn absconded with our team. Anyway, incredible streak.

    • 1heatedtoombrayduh - Feb 19, 2014 at 7:39 AM

      Probasketball pundit says “I hate that “most fundamental” is the best compliment we can think of for Duncan” then goes on to call duncan “the Big Fundamental”

      its not a bad thing for him to be remembered by..I love the fact that i can say he is THEE most textbook prototypical powerforward that I have ever seen.

  6. casualcommenter - Feb 18, 2014 at 6:28 PM

    Sad news if this is his last year. Not a Spurs fan, but I love watching great basketball players, and Tim is still one of them even at his current age.

    However, I think he sticks for another year. It’s quite crazy – the Spurs have had to deal with injury issues this year up and down their roster, and the West is more competitive than ever, yet they’re still the second seed in the West.

    The Spurs with Duncan are a little too good for me to buy that he’d walk away at this point. He’s not a guy who will linger too long, but I think he still has another great season in him.

    I’ll hedge a bit and say if San Antonio goes through another long Finals run but wins this year, he might retire, but barring that, he’ll be back next year.

  7. ranfan12 - Feb 18, 2014 at 10:57 PM

    never got tired of the duncan/shaq matchups.

  8. stayhigh_247 - Feb 18, 2014 at 11:08 PM

    I think Pop and Timmy ride off into the sunset like Butch & Sundance.

    • Kurt Helin - Feb 22, 2014 at 2:43 PM

      Agreed. I bet Pop leaves the Spurs and takes over for Coach K as Team USA coach after 2014 Olympics.

  9. dinofrank60 - Feb 18, 2014 at 11:23 PM

    If Duncan wants to leave, fine. He shouldn’t any longer than he feels like playing; he’s earned that consideration. Do something else.

    There is no flash in his game, but he doesn’t deviate from his big an principles. That’s why he is lauded for his fundamentals.

    He is not the greatest power forward in history; he is much more than just a power forward. He slips between the center and forward so much, you can’t define him by position as you can’t do with most, if not all of the greatest players.

  10. pukpokito - Feb 19, 2014 at 12:18 AM

    One of those players that all 29 other NBA Teams really wishes they would have drafted.Tim Duncan is such a gift to the game of basketball.

  11. scbaby2013 - Feb 19, 2014 at 1:06 AM

    To add to everyone’s messages…plus he’s dating a hot lady. I’d retire too to spend more time with her lol

  12. gostlcards5 - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    If TD retires, then I think that everyone would wish him all the best. Clearly an all-time great player (easy top 10-15), he did everything in such a non-flashy way that he is often overlooked or an afterthought, which is the true shame. He’s also a great competitor, while remaining basically humble and respectful of everyone, from everything that I’ve ever seen. So, he’s an all-time great role model as well, IMO.

    Tim, I hope it’s not true, but if so, thanks for the memories.

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