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Parker: Expect Tim Duncan to return

Five-time NBA champion Tim Duncan eventually will retire, of course, but San Antonio Spurs teammate Tony Parker doesn't expect it to happen just yet.

"It will come to an end, but I don't think next year," Parker told reporters after the Spurs beat the Miami Heat Sunday in the NBA Finals for their fifth championship in 15 seasons. "I think everybody's gonna come back."

Parker believes his longtime teammate will return and join Manu Ginobili, Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and himself as they try to defend their title.

Spurs owner Peter Holt agrees with Parker's assessment.

"Tim and Manu are going to play until they die, so I think we are in pretty good shape," Holt told reporters. "Tim and Manu want to play until they die, somewhat sincerely, actually."

The 38-year-old Duncan, who holds a player option to return next season for $10.3 million, said during the Finals that he would continue to play if he is still effective.

He averaged 15.1 points and 9.7 rebounds during the regular season, and was slightly better during the team's run to the championship (15.4 PPG, 10.0 RPG).

Add to that coach Gregg Popovich's ability to rest his big man -- Duncan averaged 29.2 minutes per game this past season.

"I don't see any reason, watching him play, why he can't continue to be a great player," Spurs general manager R.C. Buford said during Sunday's celebration. "He'll make that decision."

And if Duncan returns -- and even if he doesn't -- Ginobili expects the Spurs to continue what they've become accustomed to doing.

"I think I said it many times. There was not one season since I'm in the NBA that I really didn't truly believe that we could have won it," said Ginobili, who will turn 37 in July. "Every year we were up there. Sometimes we were No. 1, and we lost in the first round. Some other times we were seventh, and we had a shot at winning it.

"But playing with the teammates I've always played [with], coached by the guy that is coaching us, I always felt that we had a shot, and I truly never believed it was the last shot."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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sports espn peter holt tim duncan tony parker nba nba finals gregg popovich kawhi leonard san antonio spurs mvp manu ginobili
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