Yeah, that’s a sigh of relief you heard coming out of San Antonio this week. Tim Duncan is OK.
And day to day.
That’s the official status for Duncan as the Spurs embark on their annual Rodeo Road Trip, a nine-game trek that covers most of February and coincides with the San Antonio Stock Show & Road inhabiting the AT&T Center.
Just don’t expect Duncan to be on the court with the Rodeo Road Trip opens Wednesday at Minnesota. At least that’s the view of Duncan’s teammates, who shared the floor with the 36-year-old All-Star at practice Monday.
“I’ll be surprised if he does, just because the way our staff is,” Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard said. “We like to make sure players are 100 percent. You never know with Tim. He loves the game and he might just suit up.”
Look for Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to take a cautious approach with Duncan, considering his age and some nagging knee issues lately. Duncan had just returned against the Wizards after missing four games with a sore left knee.
The first five games of the trip precede All-Star Weekend in Houston. Maybe Duncan takes those five games off. Or not. There’s no use in trying to guess.
“You can’t be surprised of nothing that happens between Tim and Pop,” Spurs swingman Stephen Jackson said. “Their relationship is something that none of us know about. They have a relationship like no other.
“I wouldn’t be surprised. They do a great job of communicating. They’ve been together for so long. They know how each other feels, and Pop will make the right decision.”
The Spurs are 38-11 and leading the Western Conference. San Antonio is 16-9 on the road, and five of the teams on the Rodeo Road Trip have losing records. Still, the Spurs would rather have Duncan in the fold.
“We need him for our team to win,” Leonard said. “We need the chemistry right now so we can have it in the playoffs.”
Duncan underwent an MRI exam Sunday that showed no structural damage to his left knee. The West reserve went down in the second quarter of Saturday’s win over Washington, needing help to leave the court.
Wizards forward Martell Webster fell into Duncan’s knee during scramble for rebound. Duncan left the game with 3:54 left in the first half and didn’t return. He was initially diagnosed with a sprained right ankle and sprained left knee.
Though Duncan needed assistance at first, he did manage to walk under his own power to the locker room. That provided that first clue that the injury wasn’t as serious as some originally feared. The injuries are now listed as a sore left knee and mild right ankle sprain.
“To reach our goal, we can’t do it without him,” Jackson said. “We know what we’re dealing with now. We know how long we’ll have to play without him.”