Spurs to sit Duncan during compacted season
MIAMI — Coming soon to an arena near you: Tim
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich elaborated Tuesday on plans to rest his
legendary power forward at times this season as a precaution. Popovich wouldn't
be specific about when the aging Duncan will sit, but it will be during
stretches when the Spurs have a lot of games during this 66-game season,
condensed due to the lockout.
Wednesday's game at Orlando marks the second night of a back-to-back and the
second game of four in five nights. But the Magic do have big man Dwight
Howard, and it would figure Duncan, 35, could be useful against him.
"We've always watched Tim's minutes for his whole career, so we'll do the
same thing this year and probably to an even greater extent because of the rapidity
of games," Popovich said before a 120-98 loss to Miami at AmericanAirlines
Arena on Tuesday. "It's a situation where he'll probably just sit some
games and not play. If you don't sit, there's so many games so quickly (this
season) that they can pile up on you. So the only way to really catch up is
probably sit now and then. ... We have to make sure we do something smart with
Duncan rested some nights last season, sitting out six games. He said it
happening again is no big deal.
"Long term, it makes sense," said Duncan, who had eight points and
seven rebounds in 27 minutes against the Heat. "Obviously, as a
competitor, I want to be out there every game. But it makes sense."
Duncan is a 15-year veteran with four championship rings and MVP trophies on
his mantel from 2001-02 and 2002-03. But he's slipped in recent years, and this
season is on pace to have career-low averages at 12.4 points and 6.9 rebounds
Duncan, whose streak of having made 13 consecutive All-Star Games is in serious
jeopardy, averaged a career-low 28.4 minutes last season. He's down from that,
averaging 26.5 while playing in all of San Antonio's first 14 games.
"I think the most important thing is that Timmy is fresh for us and ready
to go come playoff time," Spurs guard Tony Parker said of Duncan missing
some games. "Of course, we want him to be healthy come playoff time."
Parker is hopeful it won't be the last playoff run for Duncan, whose contract
expires after this season. While Duncan has not said how much longer he plans
to play, Parker sees no reason Duncan can't stick around awhile longer.
"I think he can play another two or three years," Parker said.
"His knowledge of basketball is amazing. Just to have him in the locker
room is great. He's still playing at a high level. ... I think he definitely can
play for another two or three years. It depends on his body and what he wants
For now, the Spurs are worrying about Duncan's body holding up this season.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson.