San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan will exercise the final-year option on his contract.
"Spurs cornerstone Tim Duncan has exercised a player option for nearly $10.4 million to return for his 18th NBA season, league sources confirmed to the Express-News on Monday. The Spurs announced the move later in the day.
"Duncan, 38, averaged 15.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in his 17th season. He followed that up by averaging 16.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks during the postseason as the Spurs went on to crush Miami in the Finals for their fifth championship during the illustrious tenure.
"Duncan had been coy during the playoffs regarding his plans, but was widely expected to return given how well he's played in recent seasons. In 2012-13 he became the oldest player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the mid 1980s to earn first-team All-NBA honors. He followed that up with a strong campaign this season, capped by three double-doubles in five games against Miami.
"Duncan apparently considered opting out altogether to accept a two-year deal, but instead will now play for at least one more season before assessing his future again next summer. His contract and those of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili will all expire next summer.
"Duncan did not immediately respond to text messages for comment. But Parker was thrilled at the prospect of playing alongside Duncan for a 14th season. 'Very happy,' he told Mike Monroe of The Express-News. 'That's great news. Love playing with him and hope it lasts forever.'
"The Spurs now have roughly $53 million in guaranteed salary for next season, with a $1.1 million qualifying offer due on Aron Baynes and a team option for $1.06 million on Austin Daye. Boris Diaw, Patty Mills and Matt Bonner are all unrestricted free agents whom the Spurs can exceed the salary cap to bring back.
"The 2014-15 cap is (expected) to grow by $5 million to an estimated $63 million. As non-taxpayers who will almost certainly be over the cap, the Spurs will also likely have the full mid-level exception of more than $5 million.
"In addition to trying to bring back Diaw and Mills, the Spurs' attention will now turn to Kawhi Leonard, who is eligible for a lucrative extension that could pay him an annual salary as much as 25 percent of the total cap.
"Yahoo! Sports was the first to report the news."
USA TODAY's Sam Amick confirms Duncan's return in the 2014-15 NBA season:
"The San Antonio Spurs will be back yet again next season, with the indomitable Tim Duncan in tow.
"A person with knowledge of the situation confirmed that the Spurs big man has decided to exercise the 2014-15 player option on his contract that is worth $10.3 million. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because the team had not yet announced Duncan's decision.
"While Duncan had given no indciation that he would retire following the Spurs' fifth championship since 1999, he had also avoided answering the direct question of whether or not he would be back. He will return to a group that is mostly intact, with only Boris Diaw, Patty Mills and Matt Bonner becoming free agents and Duncan's status as San Antonio's invaluable man in the middle still as alive as his incredible career.
"Duncan averaged 16.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks during the Spurs' latest postseason run, proving yet again that -- even at 38 years old with a total of 1,488 games played between the regular season and playoffs -- he is more than capable of continuing.
"He'll discuss his decision with the world on Tuesday, when he's scheduled to appear as a guest on 'The Late Show with David Letterman.'"
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