By the looks of it, San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili is forgoing retirement and will look to test the free agency waters this summer. Shams Charania of The Vertical confirmed the news, citing sources that said Ginobili rejected his $2.94 million player option.
This past season was an absolutely remarkable one for the Spurs, whose 67-15 record was overshadowed by Golden State’s record-setting 73-win regular season. The 38-year-old from Argentina had a season that was one of his most unproductive since entering the NBA. He appeared in just 58 because of a combination of minor injuries and rest. In those games, Manu averaged just 19.6 minutes, his fewest as a pro, 9.6 points on 45 percent shooting, and 3.1 assists.
It would be shocking to watch R.C. Buford and the Spurs let Ginobili walk as they’ve had a historical past. However, there’s always the chance that this is just a ploy to see if Manu can wriggle more money from the organization because he’s been very content with the team and showed no signs of wanting to play for anyone else.
A name like his on the free agent market is going to draw a ton of attention and, possibly, some lucrative offers. For someone who’s going to be 39 at the start of next season, Ginobili can still bring obvious value to a franchise. The chief asset is the championship pedigree, as he’s won four titles since coming into the league in 2002-03. He’s also learned from two of the greatest ever in Tim Duncan and Popovich — that could have enormous value on a young team.
As far as talent goes, Ginobili is still a capable scorer and passer but will likely be relegated to a spot-up three-point shooter on a team with established offensive weapons. That was almost his entire offense with the Spurs, and he bumped up his percentage from 34.5 two years ago to 39 this year. He made up for his lack of offense by having a tremendously efficient season defensively that saw him put up a defensive rating per 100 possessions of 98 — the only caveat is that the Spurs were the best defensive team in basketball.
With the Ginobili free agency saga officially underway, make sure you check back throughout the summer for updates.