In a recent article on ESPN Dallas, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he expects Dirk Nowtizki to remain at an elite level for the next 2-3 years and hinted that he cannot see San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan as a role player at the close of his Hall-of-Fame career.
"What we're seeing now with Dirk is what we can expect to see next year and the year after, if he stays healthy," Cuban told reporters recently. "And the year after that.
"Is Kevin Garnett a role player? Is Tim Duncan a role player? Do you think Tim Duncan is going to be a role player next year? You think Kevin Garnett is going to be a role player next year? And those guys are based more on athleticism than Dirk is, you know?"
Unfortunately for Cuban, while he’d like Nowitzki to remain one of the NBA’s elite players, he’s likely no longer even mentioned in that group along with the LeBrons, Durants etc.
Time eventually catches up to every one and we’ve seen some of that from Nowitzki due to injury this season. And while Duncan is enjoying what many will call a “throwback” season, even he is not immune to Father Time.
While you could make the argument that Duncan is playing as well and is as important as Tony Parker, considered the Spurs’ best player, Duncan knows his time to turn over the keys to the franchise to a younger player is fast approaching, and it won’t be the first time he’s been part of such a transition, as David Robinson took a backseat to Duncan early in his career.
Just as Robinson did, when the time comes, it’s a no-brainer that Duncan could take on a lesser role if he felt that was what was best for the team.