Future of Spurs in question after Game 7 loss to Clippers

Yahoo Sports

LOS ANGELES – The heartache and frustration of having their championship reign end in a last-second Game 7 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers had barely begun to hang over the San Antonio Spurs when attention quickly turned to a pertinent question about the franchise's future.

Was this the last game for Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili? And maybe even coach Gregg Popovich?

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From the sound of Duncan and Ginobili, they aren't rushing into a decision.

"I'm not making any statements," Duncan said after the season-ending 111-109 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Chris Paul's winning shot could push Manu Ginobili into retirement. (Getty Images)
Chris Paul's winning shot could push Manu Ginobili into retirement. (Getty Images)

Said Ginobili: "It's not a topic to talk about. It's too soon."

Whenever he decides to retire, Duncan will leave as the greatest Spurs player of all time and also the greatest power forward the NBA has ever known. He is now 39 and admitted this week he sees "the light at the end of the tunnel." But he's also still playing at an elite level: He totaled 27 points and 11 rebounds in 37 minutes in Game 7, his fourth game of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the series.

Duncan was an All-Star this season, but also has nothing more to prove with five championship rings. A certain first-ballot Hall-of-Fame induction awaits him after retirement.

"It's a little too early to think about that," Duncan said of the possibility he might retire.

While Duncan is playing at a high level, Ginobili has often looked every bit his 37 years of age this season. He averaged 10.5 points on 42.6 percent shooting from the field this season in 22.7 minutes per game. He hasn't had a scoring average so low since his rookie season when he averaged 7.6 points. He averaged eight points off the bench in the series against the Clippers.

While Ginobili is still good enough to play in the NBA, his role has diminished. He acknowledged Game 7 might have been his last game.

"It could happen," Ginobili said. "I still don't know. I don't want to make a decision after being a disappointment in a game like this. So I'll have a lot of time. I will sit with my family and try to evaluate what happened during the season, how I feel and if I am ready to go at it again. I guess the Spurs are going to have to make a decision, too, and see what they want to do also."

Danny Green became teary-eyed when discussing the possibility of Duncan and Ginobili retiring.

"Manu and Timmy are the greatest teammates I've ever had," Green told the San Antonio Express-News. "It sucks I couldn't do it and get a win for them."

Duncan made $10.3 million in the final year of his contract while Ginobili made $7 million. Spurs president and coach Popovich has said in the past he also might retire when Duncan exits.

"People ask me about Tim and Manu and myself for the last five years, what we're going to do," Popovich said. "It's all psychobabble. I have no clue. We'll probably come back. Paycheck is pretty good.

"You think I'm lying?"

Duncan, Ginobili and guard Tony Parker have played an NBA-record 734 games together, starting in 2002. Parker doesn't know whether that streak will continue.

"When I talk with them they are always like, '50-50,' " Parker told Yahoo Sports. "It's going to be a big summer for us. [General manager] R.C. [Buford] and Pop always make great decisions. We will see what will happen."

And if Duncan and Ginobili asked Parker's opinion?

"I'd tell them to come back," Parker said. "Of course, I love playing with Timmy and Manu."

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