Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
Manu Ginobili will be suiting up for the San Antonio Spurs for a 15th season. According to The Vertical’s Shams Charania, he and the Spurs agreed to terms on a one-year deal worth $14 million Thursday.
Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com confirmed the move.
Charania reported on June 22 that Ginobili was opting out of his current deal but added that the two-time All-Star would likely sign a new deal with San Antonio. Although it’s increasingly rare for an athlete to stay with one team for his entire career, seeing Ginobili leave the franchise with which he has won four NBA titles would’ve been a major surprise.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Philadelphia 76ers made “an extremely high offer” for Ginobili that forced the Spurs to pay over three times their initial offer to retain Ginobili.
The Big Three era hasn’t completely drawn to a close for the Spurs, but Ginobili and Tony Parker are no longer capable of leading the franchise like they once did. The biggest member of the Big Three, Tim Duncan, announced earlier this week that he’s retiring.
San Antonio has already planned for the inevitable, with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge becoming the new franchise cornerstones.
The end is coming sooner rather than later for Ginobili, but he remains a valuable member of the Spurs rotation.
Ginobili only averaged 9.6 points per game in 2015-16, but that figure is largely a result of his limited playing time—a career-low 19.6 minutes per night. According to Basketball-Reference.com, he posted a much healthier 17.6 points per 36 minutes. He also shot 45.3 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from three-point range.
Ginobili’s shooting measured up well among qualified players in their age-38 seasons or older, per Basketball-Reference.com:
|58||.453 (25th)||.813 (17th)||.391 (8th)||.573 (13th)||.533 (13th)|
It will be unrealistic to expect Ginobili to continue shooting like that in 2016-17. According to Basketball-Reference.com, only nine players in NBA history at age 39 or older have finished with an effective field-goal percentage higher than .500.
Barring a turnaround, Ginobili will also represent Argentina in the 2016 Summer Olympics. Having little to no offseason in an Olympic year can be physically draining for stars in their athletic primes. Given his age, Ginobili may still be recovering from national team duty when the 2016-17 NBA season begins in October.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has grown more and more proactive about his stars’ workloads, though. He has never hesitated to rest his older veterans, even if it draws the ire of the NBA league office.
Popovich will be keen not to ask too much of Ginobili, especially early in the season after the Olympics. As long as Danny Green doesn’t go down with an injury, it shouldn’t present a problem for the Spurs.
Many have predicted the end of the Spurs’ competitive cycle in the past, only for the team to make a deep run in the playoffs. Re-signing Ginobili gives San Antonio another chance to silence its doubters and wring one more title out of its veteran core before rebuilding the roster.