San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan, the NBA’s most sought after free agent this year, said today he had rejected overtures from the Orlando Magic and would stay in San Antonio.
Duncan, a 24-year-old All-Star who led the Spurs to their first NBA championship last year, said his new contract would commit him to San Antonio for at least three more years. Under league guidelines, he is expected to make about $9.5 million a year.
He cannot officially sign the new deal until Aug. 1.
Duncan said the Magic, who reportedly offered him a multi-year deal worth $67 million, made his decision difficult.
“Orlando had a lot to offer,” Duncan told a packed news conference at a San Antonio hotel. “I had a good time and I met some great people down there, but I decided to stay here and keep going for another championship.”
Orlando ‘Had A Lot to Offer’
Orlando wined and dined Duncan and fellow NBA superstar Grant Hill for a week earlier this month. Hill has announced his plans to leave his current team, the Detroit Pistons, and sign with the Magic.
Duncan was the Most Valuable Player of the 1999 championship series against the New York Knicks, but because of a knee injury watched from the sidelines this year as the Spurs bowed to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs.
He said San Antonio was well positioned to win another championship in the upcoming season.
“I think we have a great opportunity, with (center) David (Robinson) and myself, and I think with free agency we’ll be able to pick up some great free agents, and go out there and do it again,” he said.
In the past few weeks, signs and billboards proclaiming “Stay, Tim, stay” have sprouted around San Antonio in an outpouring of support.
Duncan called the campaign “overwhelming” and said it contributed to his decision to stay.