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Report: Duncan, Popovich likely to return

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Signs point to power forward Tim Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich returning to the San Antonio Spurs next season.

Speculation during the playoffs has centered around whether the two would be back should they win a fifth NBA title. ESPN reported that the 38-year-old Duncan has a June 24 deadline to opt in to his contract next season.

But the Spurs believe both Duncan and Popovich — win or lose — will stay next season. The contracts of Duncan, Popovich and guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili expire after next season. Parker makes $12.5 million and Ginobili $7 million this season.

Duncan and Popovich have refused the address their futures during the postseason. According to ESPN sources, Duncan’s opt-in date is earlier than most players to help the Spurs get a read on his plan before the June 26 draft and the beginning of free agency on July 1. But there apparently is some flexibility on Duncan declaring his intentions on whether he’ll exercise the option year of his contract.

Before the series, Duncan would not tip his hand either way on his future plans.

“I don’t know when I’m going to retire,” Duncan said. “I don’t know what the factors are going to be. I don’t know any of that and I don’t care about any of that stuff right now. It will happen when it happens.”

Ginobili has indicated that he definitely will be back next season.

The Spurs hold a commanding 3-1 lead over the Miami Heat heading into Game 5 on Sunday in San Antonio.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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