Tonight is Game 5 of the 2014 NBA Finals, & with the way the games have gone in 3 & 4 – the Spurs absolutely destroying the Heat from the beginning all the way to the end – there is nothing that is telling me that the Spurs aren’t going to walk away with a 5th NBA Championship since Tim Duncan’s arrival in the NBA back in 1996.
The Spurs have been the most consistent franchise in the league during that period……..the Spurs took over the “dynasty” status after the Bulls run was ending, the Los Angeles Lakers had a good run, but they received 3 NBA Championships – most of the years they won they had to beat the Spurs in the playoffs. The Spurs got one in 1999, 2003 (after the Lakers 3 straight championships), 2005 against the Detroit Pistons, & 2007 against the Cleveland Cavaliers when LeBron James led them to the NBA Finals 4 years after coming into the league.
The Spurs have always been a factor for a title, no matter what happens. In the NHL, there are the Detroit Red Wings, in baseball there are the New York Yankees, in the NFL its the New England Patriots, in the NBA, the model franchise has been the San Antonio Spurs.
But, if tonight is the end of the 2013-14 NBA season & the Spurs walk away with a championship, what would be the logical next step for the organization?
The End of Gregg Popovich as Coach; Tim Duncan as a Spurs Player.
Gregg Popovich & Tim Duncan has had one of the greatest coach/player relationships in this era of NBA basketball, & a success for winning that can go up against any in NBA history. The team has been in the playoffs every year since 1999 & most years, they are in the semifinals, conference finals or NBA Finals. This is not a combination that is used to bowing out early in the run.
For Tim Duncan, he has until June 24 to let the Spurs organization know if he is going to exercise a player option for next year. Many people have said that if Duncan gets a 5th NBA championship that he will retire & call it a career, which no one could blame him for as, in my opinion, he is the greatest power forward in NBA history. He did things the right way, learned under Spurs legend David Robinson, paid his dues, came into the NBA after a 4-year career at Wake Forest, & was ready to dominate in the league after he realized that he was not going to need to be the flashy scorer of this era. He played solid defense, perfected the bank shot & commanded respect from teammates & opponents alike.
As for Popovich, he has been the hard-nosed coach who gave some hilarious sideline interviews where he would give the reporters absolutely nothing to work with, which turned into big time hilarity after a while. Popovich has said on occasion that he would leave when Duncan leaves, but with Manu Ginobili & Tony Parker still around for probably one more year, Pop looks healthy & has some great young players coming into their own that can begin to take the load off of Parker & Ginobili such as Danny Green & Kawhi Leonard, who has had a great NBA Finals, to the point where if the Spurs win, he could very well be in the running for NBA Finals MVP.
If Popovich did have a change of heart & stepped down right now, he is already a first-ball NBA Hall-of-Famer, same as Tim Duncan. Where as Duncan has many miles on his tires & probably is ready for a change & some relaxation, similar to how David Robinson is enjoying life, Popovich has great NBA Finals level talent on the squad & probably too much to walk away from this season. After next season, however, it could be another story.
Tony Parker & Manu Ginobili Stick Around For One More Year.
Many will predict that this is the end of the Spurs dynasty after their NBA championship this season, but I think that there is more in the tank for Tony Parker & Manu Ginobili. Both have expressed desire to retire soon – Parker & Ginobili have logged a lot of minutes for the Spurs & for their countries – France for Parker, Argentina for Ginobili.
While it wouldn’t be surprising if both left right now, I believe that Parker & Ginobili will stick around for one more season to help be the bridge into the new era of Spurs basketball – to allow Kawhi Leonard & Danny Green to become the true leaders of the team & to get pieces this offseason to build around them for the future & to allow for a seamless transition into the future years.
Would the Spurs have a major drop off if the team lost Duncan, Parker & Ginobili? Absolutely. But the Spurs organization, from top to bottom, has been absolutely amazing in terms of making sure the team brought in quality players who had a great flare for the game & who played the game with the team first mentality. That process should continue with Parker & Ginobili being the true leaders of the team for at least one more season.
The Next Step For Miami Heat – Carmelo Anthony?
As we wrote about earlier this week, the Miami Heat will be looking to make a play for Carmelo Anthony if the finances can match up correctly. Having Anthony on the squad makes the Heat fresh again & brings them right back into the NBA Championship mentality.
But, possibly the biggest question with the Heat players could be within their own – LeBron James has the option to opt out after this season & become an unrestricted free agent, similar to Carmelo. Could Anthony & LeBron play together? possibly, but not in another city other than Miami or Los Angeles with the Lakers.
The Lakers will make a major play for LeBron after the finals complete, especially with Kobe Bryant breathing down the organization’s neck to become a contender right now & win another NBA championship, but if the team were to bring in LeBron & Carmelo, the role players around them are not going to be up to par – especially not compared to what would be available with the Miami Heat, Houston Rockets or the Chicago Bulls.
Dwyane Wade has many options as well in terms of his future. Many NBA analysts & fans have suggested that its time for Wade to possibly retire because of the beating that his body has taken over the years. In the last few games, Wade has gone back to looking the way he did during last season – older, beat up, not getting any lift on his shot.
Wade has been the true face & leader of the Miami Heat, long before Bosh & LeBron came to town. He was there for the first Heat championship in 2006 when he & Shaq took care of business against the Dallas Mavericks. He has 3 NBA Championships in 5 appearances, assuming the team doesn’t win one this season & nothing to prove to anyone about his place among the legends of the game & his desire to be one of the best of all time.
In the end, many questions will have to be answered on both sides if the Spurs can handle their business tonight. Questions that both teams may not want to face or know the result of, but no matter what, in order to become better, have to cross barriers.