HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Tim Duncan’s Hall of Fame credentials are set. His legacy needs no polishing at this late stage of his magnificent career.
And yet Duncan continues to shine.
He’s doing it this time without even touching the court. By taking a whopping 54 percent pay cut to remain with the Spurs, he abstained from the summer’s free-agent-palooza and allowed the Spurs to maintain their financial flexibility. That helped San Antonio keep its core group intact as it tries to mount one last championship run in the Duncan era.
As Jeff McDonald of the Express News reports, there was no need for a negotiating session:
“I’m an awful negotiator,” Duncan said, chuckling. “My agent was mad at me the whole time.”
Duncan was on hand at the Spurs’ practice facility Tuesday for the start of his 16th NBA training camp. That would have been surprising only if the notoriously casual dresser had arrived in something out of Craig Sager’s wardrobe.
Though technically a free agent for about a week in early July, the 36-year-old Duncan said he never seriously considered retirement and never remotely entertained the idea of playing elsewhere.
“I’ve been here for so long,” said Duncan, who took no calls from rival teams. “This is home for me.”
That’s a welcome statement for NBA observers who still cringe at the memory of Hakeem Olajuwon in a Toronto Raptors jersey or Patrick Ewing in Seattle SuperSonics green.
Taking that pay cut means Duncan instantly became The Big Discount. With his reported $9.6 million salary, Duncan moves from near the top of the league’s earnings list to a new spot behind the likes of Al Jefferson and Carlos Boozer, solid big men who will both earn $15 million this season but won’t rank anywhere near Duncan when their careers are over.
Two Gordons, Eric ($13.6) and Ben ($12.4), will both earn more than Duncan this season, as will Hedo Turkoglu ($11.8), Corey Maggette ($10.9), DeAndre Jordan and even former Spurs swingman Richard Jefferson ($10.1).
That doesn’t include the four amnestied players — Brandon Roy, Gilbert Arena, Elton Brand and Rashard Lewis — all of whom will earn between $21 (Roy) and $15 (Lewis) million for not playing with the teams that owed them that money. Arenas isn’t even on anyone’s training camp roster.
In an era when folks love to poke players for being all about the “Benjamins,” Duncan deserves some credit for being about everything but his own bottom line!