Thursday, September 4, 2008

Daily Basketball: Will Duncan Be Worth $21.3 Million In 2012?

Will Duncan be worth $21.3m in 2012?
By Jarrad Todd

Tim Duncan is the greatest power forward the game has ever seen. He is a perennial Allstar and MVP candidate. He has won four championship rings and will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. But will Tim Duncan be worth $21.3 million in 2012? The short answer - no.

During last season Duncan signed an extension that will see him don the Spur’s silver and black until 2012. At the time the general consensus was he did the Spurs a favour, by electing not to sign for the maximum allowable amount. However, the fact remains that he will be owed $62 million from 2010 to 2012, with a whopping $21.3m owed in the final year.

If Duncan really was genuine in his desire to assist with rebuilding he should have negotiated an extension that would pay him max money over the next year or two, then gradually decrease, so by 2012 his salary would be $12-13 million. This would have allowed the Spurs to re-tool around their aging, but relatively inexpensive big man.

As great as he still is, there is no doubt that by 2012 the Spurs will regret the extension that allows a 36 year old Duncan to eat up a third of their entire salary. Case in point, Shaquille O’Neal. When Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004, a year later at the age of 33 he signed a massive five year extension totalling $100 million. Seemed like the smart thing to do at the time, but two years and one championship later, they tried desperately to rid themselves of his rapidly diminishing skills and cap-killing contract. Fortunately for them, Phoenix took the bait and is now stuck with him for two more years at $40 million. Whilst it is unlikely that Duncan will meet the same fate as Shaquille O’Neal, due to the respect afforded to him by the city of San Antonio (and rightfully so), the San Antonio Spurs will ultimately suffer as a result.

One would have to assume that Duncan’s play will gradually fall off over the coming years, and by 2012 there is little doubt he will be nearing the end. But such a decline is natural, especially when you consider the amount of basketball his body has endured over the last decade.

So why did the Spurs feel it was necessary to pay him top dollar over the next five years, when his game is sure to decline? My guess, it was more of a ‘thanks for the memories’ gift, rather than good basketball business.

Over the last decade the Spurs have prided themselves on making smart basketball decisions both on and off the floor, which has directly led to their success. However, through the trading of Luis Scola, the passing up of legitimate talent in the 2008 Draft (Arthur, Greene, Chalmers, Chris Douglas-Roberts), and the overly generous extension to Duncan’s contract, it seems as though complacency has finally crept in to the San Antonio front office. These decisions will haunt the Spurs over the coming years and will ultimately lead to their gradual decline.

In one word...well.....yes.

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