The San Antonio Spurs and the organization’s two stalwarts, Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich, are coming off a fifth championship and are poised for another title run next season – provided Duncan doesn’t retire.
With five championships in a 15-year period, the Spurs have made a claim to be considered a dynasty.
However, some people – most notably Phil Jackson – would disagree because the Spurs haven’t won consecutive titles. Jackson won three consecutive championships on three separate occasions (1991-93, 96-98, 2000-2002). He also guided the Lakers to five championships during the past 15 years.
Yet, a dynasty is defined as something powerful that maintains its position for a considerable period of time – something both the Lakers and Spurs have done over the past 15 years.
Consider this, the Spurs became only the fourth franchise in league history with five or more titles joining the Boston Celtics (17), Los Angeles Lakers (16) and Chicago Bulls (6).
With Duncan in the fold next season, the Spurs have a strong chance to win consecutive championships for the first time, cement the team’s dynasty status and further enhance the legacies of Duncan and Popovich.
Duncan made it clear that walking away from San Antonio would be difficult to do this summer during a press conference after Game 5.
Some questioned whether Duncan would ride off into the sunset as a champion like his former teammate David Robinson, but “Old Man Riverwalk” proved he still has plenty left in the tank averaging nearly a double-double throughout the regular season and playoffs.
As a result, he became the first player in league history to win a championship as a starter in three different decades.
Duncan has a roughly $10.4 million player option for next season. It remains to be seen if he will exercise his option or decline it to sign a new deal for possibly two seasons.
Boris Diaw, Patty Mills and Matt Bonner all hit the market as unrestricted free agents as well.
Keeping Diaw will be a priority for the Spurs, who originally picked up the Frenchman off the scrap heap from the Charlotte Bobcats in 2012.
Diaw shined against the Miami Heat in the Finals as a playmaker from the high post and on the block.
After making $4.7 million this past season, there’s a chance contending teams will throw the mid-level exception his way in an attempt to pry him from the Spurs.
Mills flourished as a backup point guard with consistent minutes for the first time in his career.
At 25, there will be a large market for Mills this summer – especially considering Gary Neal received a two-year, $6.5 million deal last summer as a similar sparkplug off the bench.
After spending the past eight seasons in San Antonio, it’s hard to see Bonner leaving the Spurs this summer after making nearly $4 million this season. However, he may be forced to take a pay cut to return.
If Duncan exercises his player option, the Spurs would be on the books for roughly $55 million, giving them enough cap space to sign Diaw and Bonner if they desire.
With that in mind, there’s as much incentive for the Spurs to win again next season. A championship would tie the franchise with the Bulls from the Michael Jordan era with six.
In addition, a sixth title would move Duncan into a tie with Jordan and move him ahead of Kobe Bryant for total championships. Already considered the greatest power forward ever, another title would further elevate Duncan’s ranking as one of the greatest players ever at any position.
Furthermore, Popovich can move past Pat Riley and John Kundla for the third most championships by a coach, behind Red Auerbach and Jackson, cementing his place among the Mount Rushmore of NBA coaches.
As long as Popovich, Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are together, you have to always respect the Spurs as a threat – especially after consecutive Finals appearances.
Duncan (38) and Ginobili (36) are like the old men you play against in the park. They may be a step slower, but you want them on your team because they know how to win and can still take the younger guys to school.
Parker (32) remains one of the league’s best point guards with arguably the league’s deadliest floater in the lane.
Popovich kept his stars fresh by limiting Duncan, Parker and Ginobili all to less than 30 minutes per game last season. He is credited around the league as a trendsetter for doing so dating back to previous seasons. In addition, it should also be noted that Popovich is able to get the most out of any role player on the team thanks to his system. Diaw, Mills and Bonner are prime examples of players that struggled in previous stops before finding a niche with the Spurs.
In a time when fancy crossover dribbles, posterizing dunks and isolation basketball are the cool thing to do, the Spurs are a throwback to the way basketball was originally meant to be played – moving the ball crisply like a hot potato, cutting without the ball and playing gritty defense in a team-orientated scheme with clockwork rotations.
Some consider the Spurs boring since they don’t showboat or always make the highlight play, but they know how to have fun and win championships.
Just ask Popovich.