(AP) Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs did everything they could to prepare for life without Tim Duncan.
They studied the pitfalls that plagued other franchises that lost foundational stars, drafted and developed talented players to be ready to pick up where he left off, and designed a basketball ecosystem that could sustain the loss of even the most important player.
Even after all that careful planning and shrewd evaluation, the reality of the first season in two decades without Duncan on the court was a jarring one at first for the most stable franchise in American professional sports and its veteran coach.
"I think throughout the first year there's been a little search for the center. I don't mean the position. I mean the center of gravity, what we revolve around now," Popovich told The Associated Press. "It's taken this entire year for everybody to realize that we all have to perform our roles better because Timmy covered up so many errors, whether he could score a lot or not."