After losing to Golden State in the first round of the playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs' future is very uncertain. After being an elite franchise for more than two decades, is that over?
Reality hit home for the San Antonio Spurs after being eliminated in five games by defending champion Golden State in the opening round of the NBA playoffs. Next season Tony Parker will be 36 years old, Manu Ginobili 41 and Pau Gasol 37. They are aging role players with a proud history and championship rings on their fingers.
Those days are gone, at least with the Spurs.
Though LaMarcus Aldridge did everything he could to help his team with several strong performances in the series, the 6-foot-11 power forward will be 33 next year, along with Rudy Gay at 32 and Danny Green at 31, and even Paddy Mills will be entering his 30s.
The fact of the matter is San Antonio is an old team and collectively, without Kawhi Leonard for virtually the entire season, this was the least-athletic squad the Spurs fielded in who knows how long.
Leonard Holds Key, But Does it Really Matter?
As the Leonard drama played out, the relationship between him and the Spurs became frosty. There were those in the front office and even some San Antonio players who felt Leonard should have played down the stretch and in the playoffs, even if he was not 100 percent.
Leonard and his people gave the impression (interpret how you want) that being completely healthy and securing a super max contract at age 26 or 27 was their top priority. With or without Leonard, by all appearances, the Spurs were not going to reach the Western Conference finals with Houston and Golden State in the way.
If Leonard signs a long-term contract, what are the chances 69-year-old coach Gregg Popovich will be there the entire time? And what can the Spurs' front office guarantee with main owners Peter and Julianna Holt going through divorce proceedings? All this uncertainty might lead to trading Leonard and starting a rebuilding process. That seemed unimaginable a year ago when Leonard was first injured in the West finals.
To guess what could happen in this varied and complex situation is just that, guessing. However, one thing does seem certain: The golden age of San Antonio basketball is fading away in the rearview mirror.