I know, I know, I feel like we say this every year. But I was just looking at the ages of the Spurs' players, and it's not looking good for them. Here's how old some of their players will be when next season rolls around:
Tim Duncan - 32
Manu - 31
Kurt Thomas - 36
Bruce Bowen - 37
Horry - 38
Oberto - 33
Jacque Vaughn - 33
Ime - 31
Stoudamire - 35
Brent Barry - 37
I knew Bowen was old, but 37? That's ancient! Thomas, Bowen, Horry, and Barry really stick out to me here. The Spurs got key contributions from these guys down the stretch this year, which helped propel them to the top half of the Western Conference. How much longer can these guys contribute?
The Spurs are renowned for their ability to reload with roll players every year, but I just don't see how it can happen when they have over $50 million tied up in Duncan, Parker, Ginobli, Bowen, Udoka, Bonner, Barry, and Vaughn. They'll be nestled right up to the salary cap with only the mid-level to use, and trade assets are sparse with most of their small contracts expiring this year and the likely retirement of Horry and Thomas. They might add Tiago Splitter in the offseason, but I don't know how much help he'll be.
Couple all of this with the fact that some other veteran teams will be vying for experienced vets to fill out their roster in the offseason (Boston, Miami, Cleveland, Houston, New Orleans), and the Spurs may not find the same bang for their buck that they usually do in the offseason.
Could we be looking at the Spurs' last hoorah as a title contender? Or even further, there has been some recent discussion on who we'll have to knock out of the top 8 in the West to reach the playoffs, but nobody has mentioned the Spurs. We witnessed them struggle more than ever through the first few months of the season--well into January--and with most of the teams in the West getting better, is it possible that early-season slump lasts even longer and causes them to miss the playoffs? It will certainly be interesting to see who jumps out in front in the West next year, and who gets left behind.