NBA

Popovich: Unraveled Spurs 'reached our limit'

Share This Story

   
 

SAN ANTONIO (AP)

Injuries weren't a factor for once. Neither was depth. The San Antonio Spurs finally were healthy, and had the supporting talent and even the momentum of a historic winning streak crafted at the perfect time to become NBA champions again.

And it still wasn't enough.

''I thought this was definitely our time. Our time to get back to the finals. Our time to push for another championship,'' Spurs forward Tim Duncan said. ''That was our singular goal, and obviously, it ends here.''

He meant this season. But it might also be a deeper truth.

On Thursday, coach Gregg Popovich passed on speculating what's next after the Duncan era-Spurs possibly saw their championship window close shut - for real this time.

Duncan, who is 36 and now without a contract, has suggested this year that he is leaning toward returning for at least a 16th season, but there are no guarantees.

The Spurs were up 2-0 on Oklahoma City and appeared to be a lock for the NBA Finals, before the young and hungry Thunder finished a stunning turnaround Wednesday night to win the Western Conference.

''We all want more. It hurts every day,'' Popovich said. ''It'll pass eventually.''

It's become cliche to declare every Spurs' run that doesn't end with a championship The End. The Spurs, after all, have defied their supposed demise and advancing age every year since their last title in 2007. No NBA team has more wins in the last three seasons than the Spurs, who just last week were steamrolling on a 20-game tear that stands as the fourth-longest winning streak in history.

Then it unraveled, and fast.

But this time Manu Ginobili wasn't hobbling through the playoffs with a freshly dinged elbow (2011) or sitting out altogether (2009). Tony Parker wasn't banged-up (2010) and there was no glaring lack of ''firepower'' (2009) that made it abundantly clear why the Spurs so suddenly came unglued and lost four in a row for the first time all season.

Injuries won't haunt the Spurs with ''what ifs'' this summer. And it's hard to find fault within a roster that Popovich called his deepest ever and pundits lauded as a near-perfect mix of veteran savvy and young athleticism running the second-highest scoring offense in the NBA to almost flawless perfection for 50 unbeaten days.

The explanation from Popovich instead was simple, and perhaps a little revealing.

''We faced a team that beat us fair and square. We reached our limit,'' Popovich said.

After the final loss in Oklahoma City, Duncan didn't extinguish the possibility he'll retire Wednesday night but spoke several times this season as though he'll return. Popovich said Thursday talks with the star haven't begun.

Duncan, among the league's highest-paid players this year at $21 million, would certainly come back at a cheaper price that might give the Spurs more flexibility to tinker. Parker, who turned 30 last month, is under contract for two more years and just put together the best all-around season of his career, having finished fifth in the MVP voting.

Rookie Kawhi Leonard is considered a star in the making within the Spurs. Ginobili, 34, is signed for one more year and so is veteran swingman Stephen Jackson, who had 23 points off the bench in Game 6.

The vaunted Spurs' depth that Jackson headlined, however, disappeared as the series with the Thunder dragged on. Danny Green, the unheralded and undrafted swingman who became an unlikely starter midway through the season, lost not only his starting job but playing time altogether by Game 5. Big men Matt Bonner (1 of 9 in the series) and Tiago Splitter also played their way out of the rotation.

Following last season, Parker returned to France and famously told reporters the Spurs were likely done as contenders. While Oklahoma City celebrated being the first new Western Conference champion in 14 years, in the visiting locker room Wednesday night, Parker declined to speculate on where the Spurs go from here.

Ginobili had an idea.

''Same place we've been going the last eight years,'' Ginobili said. ''We've been always old. We've been always criticized for that. We still compete. We won the West - well, regular season, of course. We are fine. We trust Pop and (general manager) R.C. (Buford) to make good decisions, bring talent. I think they did an unbelievable job this year. I think we had the best record in the league. I mean, what else you can expect, right?''

That's what the Spurs might be asking themselves all summer.

----

Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pauljweber

Tagged: Spurs, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by


NBA Videos

NBA considering mid-season Vegas tournament? Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Adam Silver confirms the NBA has engaged in early conversations about the possib...

LeBron and Blatt 'will work together beautifully' Posted: Jul 14, 2014
Cavaliers head coach David Blatt on LeBron James' decision to return to Clevelan...

LeBron's back and so are the Cavs Posted: Jul 11, 2014
FOX Sports 1's Gary Payton weighs-in on LeBron's decision to return to Cleveland...

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    adidas Blake Griffin Los Angeles Clippers Revolution 30 Performance Jersey - Red http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Los_Angeles_Clippers/browse/featuredproduct/491845/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_491000/ff_491845_xl.jpg&w=100 59.95 adidas Blake Griffin Los Angeles Clippers Revolution 30 Performance Jersey - Red
    adidas LeBron James Miami Heat Revolution 30 Swingman Performance Jersey-Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Miami_Heat/browse/featuredproduct/498609/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_498000/ff_498609_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas LeBron James Miami Heat Revolution 30 Swingman Performance Jersey-Black
    adidas Carmelo Anthony New York Knicks Revolution 30 Swingman Performance Jersey - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Knicks/browse/featuredproduct/620470/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_620000/ff_620470_xl.jpg&w=100 49.99 adidas Carmelo Anthony New York Knicks Revolution 30 Swingman Performance Jersey..
    Mitchell & Ness San Antonio Spurs Black Solid Script Snapback Adjustable Hat http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Antonio_Spurs/browse/featuredproduct/692239/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_692000/ff_692239_xl.jpg&w=100 25.95 Mitchell & Ness San Antonio Spurs Black Solid Script Snapback Adjustable Hat
    Majestic Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers Logo Man T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Los_Angeles_Lakers/browse/featuredproduct/851828/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_851000/ff_851828_xl.jpg&w=100 23.95 Majestic Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers Logo Man T-Shirt - Black
    Majestic Kevin Durant Oklahoma City Thunder Logo Man T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_City_Thunder/browse/featuredproduct/851842/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_851000/ff_851842_xl.jpg&w=100 23.95 Majestic Kevin Durant Oklahoma City Thunder Logo Man T-Shirt - White
    adidas Miami Heat 2012 NBA Eastern Conference Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Miami_Heat/browse/featuredproduct/890174/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_890000/ff_890174_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 adidas Miami Heat 2012 NBA Eastern Conference Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Wh..
    adidas Oklahoma City Thunder 2012 NBA Western Conference Champions Locker Room Flex Hat - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_City_Thunder/browse/featuredproduct/890384/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_890000/ff_890384_xl.jpg&w=100 19.99 adidas Oklahoma City Thunder 2012 NBA Western Conference Champions Locker Room F..