Tim Duncan had a relatively short, nine-day window to decide whether or not to opt in to the final year of his contract with the Spurs, after the team had won its fifth title by dispatching the Heat on June 15.
There were questions about retirement lobbed at Duncan more than once during the Finals, and even after the championship was secured, which seemed especially ridiculous given just how good he looked during that series.
Duncan was noncommittal all along, however, and evidently there was a real decision that he struggled with before coming back for his 18th NBA season.
From Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:
“There was some hesitation there,” Duncan admitted. …
“It came down to, I’m not going to be able to do this again,” Duncan said Friday, at his 18th annual Spurs media day session. “So as long as I’m feeling I can (play), and I feel good about it, this is where I want to be.”
Health likely played the biggest factor in Duncan’s choice to return, along with the prospect of attempting to help the Spurs repeat as champions for the first time in the franchise’s history.
But there was also the matter of the $10,361,446 he’d collect by playing an additional season.
No matter the true motivation, Duncan has avoided serious injury during the later stages of his career, and still managed to average 15.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots in 29.2 minutes per contest last year, in 74 regular season appearances.
Without him, San Antonio would have been hard-pressed to contend for a second straight title. With him now back in the fold, the Spurs repeating as champions seems like a very real possibility.