In less than a week, Tim Duncan must decide if he wants to exercise the player option on his contract and play one more year with the San Antonio Spurs. The other option is most likely retirement, leaving the squad he spent his entire 17-year career.
That would be a huge blow to the Spurs, obviously.
Duncan’s production this season was only a hair lower compared to past championship seasons. Duncan was, as always, a key part of another Spurs championship team.
Now imagine this: Duncan and head coach Gregg Popovich both retire. It's a very real possibility.
Losing both Duncan and Popovich at the same time would be a lot for the Spurs to handle. Undoubtedly, San Antonio is currently doing whatever needs to be done to prepare for this scenario.
With Duncan gone, the Spurs will have a hole at the power forward position. Further, San Antonio will have to negotiate a new contract with Boris Diaw, potentially leaving an even bigger hole if he leaves. What do the Spurs do?
Rumor has it All-Star Kevin Love has piqued San Antonio’s interest. If Duncan were to retire, the Spurs have what they need to make an offer to the Minnesota Timberwolves. That being leftover money from Duncan’s contract and a number of solid players available for trade due to their depth.
Love is a fundamentally sound basketball player who can finish inside as well as beyond the three-point line. He can pass well for a big man, averaging 4.4 assists per game last season. Passing is crucial in the current offense of San Antonio and Love would fit right in.
Another free agent who may find a new home in San Antonio is Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol. Although Gasol does not have the long-range game of Love, he has a decent midrange game. Gasol is also one of the better passing big men in the league. His ability to pass inside the key will allow him to mesh well with Diaw and Tiago Splitter down low.
Once again, this is all depending on the departure of Tim Duncan.
If Duncan leaves, expect the Spurs to make a significant signing at power forward this offseason. Replacing Duncan and Popovich is no small task, but the Spurs can put themselves in a good position without losing too much ground this offseason.