We have talked a lot about Manu Ginobili in this space over the last year. Stances on whether he’ll retire have changed, not daily, but they’ve moved.
The latest: He’s undecided about whether he’ll return to the San Antonio Spurs in 2017-18.
Per the San Antonio Express-News’ Jeff McDonald:
It is a sentence no true Spurs fan really wants to contemplate: Tonight at Utah might be the last regular-season game of Manu Ginobili’s career. Ginobili is sure to stress the word “might.”
At age 39, the second-oldest player in the NBA insists he has not made a decision about whether he wants to return for a 16th season next fall.
“I never said I was retiring,” Ginobili said after shootaround Wednesday morning at Vivint Smart Home Arena. “I get this question maybe 40 times a season now. I never said I wasn’t or I was. I just wait and see.”
Ginobili’s plan is the same as it has been for the past several summers. He will take some time at the end of the playoffs, talk with his family and decide if he has it in him for another go-around.
This is good news for anyone who likes basketball. Ginobili is still hella fun to watch. It doesn’t matter that he’ll be 40 next season. He’ll still see through opponents, glide effortlessly into Eurosteps, take and make ill-advised threes and try his ass off on the defensive end.
But the Spurs are kind of reaching a crossroads. Maybe. Patty Mills is going to be a free agent, and Tony Parker is too much of a defensive liability. If the Spurs wanted to, they could stretch or try trading Parker’s deal, then go into the summer with cap space to add a younger floor general.
At the same time, Pau Gasol is probably going to opt into the last year of his deal. That timeline kind of fits with Parker’s, who will be a free agent after next season. LaMarcus Aldridge will have the chance to reach the open market as well in 2018. Bringing back Ginobili for another year and giving this core one more hurrah before contemplating a wholesale pivot might be the only play.
And yet, even if the Spurs start getting younger or moving from some of their expensive senior citizens, you can bet that should Ginobili want to play, they’ll welcome him back with open arms (and a steeply discounted contract). If for some reason they won’t, then you can also bet another team will.