Last season at this time, the Spurs, who had finished at the top of the NBA's Western Conference, already had been eliminated two rounds previously by the eighth-place Grizzlies.

The Celtics, meanwhile, had been erased in the preceding round by the Heat.

Both franchises were in the mood to renovate their rosters.

Spurs management called around the league to let the right people know that every player was touchable, exempting Tim Duncan. Owner Peter Holt, team president/coach Gregg Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford were committed to honor Duncan's reign of scandal-drama-free excellence (four titles) over 14 seasons until he decided not to play for pay anymore.