No Manu, No renew? No problem. Manu Ginobili signs extension with the San Antonio Spurs


Elusive as he’s been on the court since March, it was in the San Antonio Spurs best interests to lock up Manu Ginobili before he was allowed to euro step his way through free agency, lest he escape the Spurs like so many would be defenders.

The soon-to-be 33-year old Argentine guard signed a three year contract extension. The Spurs, sticking with their policy of not disclosing such details, did not comment on the contract’s worth. But Jeff McDonald of the Express News is reporting a deal worth $38.9 million for Ginobili.

The deal, which includes a trade kicker, is scheduled to pay Ginobili approximately $11.8 million next season, $12.9 million in 2011-12 and $14.1 million in 2012-13. It is a hefty but necessary toll for a player who will be 36 at deal’s end, especially in light of the $10 million luxury tax bill the Spurs have coming due this summer.

This extension probably ensures that Ginobili finishes his career with the Spurs—or at least the last of his best years.

Gregg Popovich offered this comment, “It is quite obvious how important Manu has been to our program. It is a great feeling to know that one of the best players in the world will continue to be a Spur.”

Terms of the deal do not come without risks. Already paying roughly $10 million in luxury tax this year, every dollar given to Manu Ginobili will have to be matched in tax payments. And for a guard on the wrong side of 30 who has already proven to be injury prone, there is no telling what Ginobili will look like at the end of the next season, let alone the end of his new contract.

But understand this is a deal that had to be done.

Financially, the potential amount of money the Spurs would have lost at the gate had they lost Ginobili, the city’s most popular player, without making any other key additions (even had his contract expired, the Spurs were still over the salary cap) would have made just as significant an impact as the luxury tax payments Spurs owner Peter Holt will have to endure.

Or, as Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News put it:

Barring some payroll gymnastics between now and then, the Spurs will be luxury-tax payers again next season. Every dollar they offer Ginobili must be paid twofold.

On the other hand, if the Spurs allow Ginobili to leave, they can brace for an inevitable backlash at the box office. As one group of Spurs season-ticket holders has put it: “No Manu, no renew.”

From a basketball perspective, even taking into account Ginobili’s age and history, this is a sound move by the R.C. Buford, Gregg Popovich and the rest of the Spurs front office.

Manu Ginobili, along with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are and always were the championship core, and even if it proves itself not to be a championship core moving forward this was always the right move.

Right now, name five players in the NBA who are playing better basketball or are more impactful players than Manu Ginobili. There aren’t five. There may not even be three. As Popovich said, Ginobili is Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan without the otherworldly athleticism.

Before Johnny Ludden and Adrian Wojnarowski broke news of the impending deal, Kelly Dwyer tried to set that the value for a player who could be every bit as good as Kobe Bryant, just not for as long:

A guy who, per-minute and when healthy, is just as good as Kobe Bryant and Brandon Roy. The problem with that is this is per-minute, and when healthy. And history tells us that a 33-year old Manu might play 65 games, he’s not going to be able to play a Kobe or Roy-level of minutes, and there’s certainly no guarantee that he’ll be healthy. Whether that means dragging his legs through games, or missing them altogether. That’s not even factoring in the expected drop off because he’ll be a year older.

And he is not worth the figures we’re tossing around. Even Manu at his best—a Kobe for 31 minutes per game—isn’t worth that sort of money.

The Spurs, however, have never been overly concerned about the regular season and it’s not Ginobili’s job to be that guy over the first 82 games. Even as he ages, we’ve already seen in glimpses this season of how a diminished Manu Ginobili can still be a key piece to a contending team.

In my mind, a further aged Ginobili is as valuable as this season’s Jason Kidd. An extremely intelligent player whose sense of how to make the right play at the right time can still fuel a contending team.

Earlier in the season, before it became apparent that Manu Ginobili was still capable of being what we’ve seen the past month, I wrote that even as a role player he was more valuable to the Spurs than most.

Offensively, even without huge scoring number Ginobili keeps the Spurs system in place. As so many of you have pointed out, Tony Parker is not a true point guard. Parker, and for that matter, the Spurs, are at their best when he can concentrate on what he does best: which is to score at an efficient rate. Pairing Ginobili’s playmaking abilities from the shooting guard position with Parker’s scoring abilities keeps the Spurs situation from devolving into something similar to what the Warriors experience with Monta Ellis (not to say that Parker is anywhere near as oblivious as Ellis can be).

So if Manu Ginobili cannot be what he is currently for an entire season, it’s Gregg Popovich’s job to limit Ginobili’s minutes and workload so come playoff time he can be that top-5 NBA player.

Because you can win a series or two with a player like that. If you pair him with an effective Tim Duncan and a restored Tony Parker you can even win a championship.

And statistics, highlights and contracts aside, hasn’t that always been the value of Manu Ginobili?

  • Jim Henderson

    April 9th, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    “@Jim – Go after Carl Landry if Sac doesn’t pick up the team option on him.”

    Couple of issues with that: (1) I think the Kings are high on Landry, and will sign him; (2) If he became a FA, he would demand more than the MLE, and we’re pretty much out of cash after the Manu signing; (3) We don’t seem to be willing to trade anybody that anybody else would want.

    That said, I like Landry, and he would undoubtedly help our team. However, in my view, he’s not really a great fit for our needs because his strengths are more offensive, as opposed to being an excellent defender and “rim protector” in the paint. I’d just prefer to see us edge back to “Spurs ball”, as in, two TALL defenders in the paint, giving up 84-88 pts. per game as a team for an entire season.

  • Jim Henderson

    April 9th, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    “We need to trade Parker and Splitter’s rights to the Raptors for Bosh. As long as Bosh agrees to an extension.”

    Can you tell me why Bosh would agree to that? Isn’t he worth about 5 mil. more per/yr. on the open market?

    Why don’t you think we could have engineered a sign & trade with Manu in the Summer to acquire some important, younger pieces? With his recent play he could have been quite valuable as a trade piece, don’t you think?

    I think you’re a little down on Bonner, but if we could afford to get a three point shooter to replace him, I’d be open to looking at that. He does have the advantage of drawing a “big” out on the perimeter, and/or creating mismatches, so keep that in mind. Lets see if he can help us in the playoffs this year, and then weigh our options. Why do you think he’s so bad, by the way, for his cost (3.2 mil.)? He’s definitely up there in terms of career 3 pt. %.

  • Felipe

    Manu won’t be playing at the World Championship and it’s a very big thing for him to lose that. It’s the only championship that he hasn’t won and representing his country is a big thing for him. That’s why he has been on so many international competitions even if that could get him injured and blow his professional career. Probably he wont be playing his last chance at this because he choose to stay with the Spurs and that shows how loyal he is to his team.

    We all love the passion that he has when he plays and it’s that same passion what makes him accident prone. Otherwise he would be just another player.

    I don’t justify the decisions he made but I think we shouldn’t judge his decisions easily. It has never been easy for him making them

  • VP of Common Sense

    I read the quote. The last sentence says now will not be able to attract a quality free agent b/c of Manu’s extension which is just plain false.

    Sign Manu or don’t sign Manu, either way WE ARE OVER THE SALARY CAP!

    You can only use your MLE to sign free agents if you are over the cap. How does this not make sense?

    We don’t have any money to offer free agents!

    We wouldn’t have the money even if we didn’t resign Manu!

    Is any of this soaking in?

  • Chris

    Manu’s last deal was 6 yrs, $52 mil. When he signed it, I said he would be underpaid for its entire length. If this new deal makes him overpaid, then he got what he deserved for devaluing himself in the last deal. He’s the NBA’s Derek Jeter and the Spurs were smart to enter taxland to keep him.

  • Jim Henderson

    VP of Common Sense
    April 10th, 2010 at 10:56 am

    “The last sentence says now will not be able to attract a quality free agent b/c of Manu’s extension which is just plain false.”

    It does NOT say that we will NOT be able to sign a FA; it says it “will HAMPER our ability to”….., which IS CORRECT. It’s NOT JUST about the cap. There is a limit to being able to “smartly” absorb the severe financial penalties associated with going even FURTHER into “luxury tax” territory. We do not play in LA with Bill Gates as our owner. Sinking in yet? I hope so, because I’m done discussing this issue with you.

  • SpursfanSteve

    Jim- What VP is saying is that even if we did not re-sign Manu, we were already over the cap. You can not sign players outside of the exceptions the NBA gives you unless they have played on your team for like 3 years+. Basically, our only hope is bringing back what we have now and using our MLE. Thats the case with or without re-signing Manu. We could not have done anything. While i agree with your point that we need another big, VP is correct on the cap issues.

  • Jim Henderson

    April 10th, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    From my previous post:

    “It’s NOT JUST about the cap. There is a limit to being able to “smartly” absorb the severe financial penalties associated with going even FURTHER into “luxury tax” territory.”

    Apparently you also don’t understand the ramifications of the “luxury tax”. Understandable, since you’re not an owner, but don’t tell Peter Holt that signing Manu to a big contract (going DEEP into luxury tax territory) should not have ANY effect on his willingness to go even FURTHER into the luxury tax by signing an IMPORTANT “big” that’s going to be millions over the MLE (incurring FURTHER luxury tax penalties), not to mention having to spend more, though lesser amounts on signing a couple of key “role” players to contracts.


  • Jim Henderson

    April 10th, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    “You can not sign players outside of the exceptions the NBA gives you unless they have played on your team for like 3 years+.”

    I guess you’re talking about the “Bird Exceptions”. I wasn’t aware of the details/complexities of these rules, and apparently the incentives are significant for signing ones own free agents as opposed to those outside your team when the team is over the cap. If this is true, I stand corrected (and the info at the link I provided in a previous post on this thread was misleading), and then we’re really screwed if Splitter doesn’t come over for the MLE (about 6 mil. – not a lot for a talented, TALL big that can block shots – probably 50/50, at best that Splitter comes at that price – even later in his career here he might not make as much as he could make in Europe).

    Otherwise, start proposing trades, because we’re not winning a title with this team as currently constructed anytime soon. That’s why I proposed trying to get something really good back by doing a sign and trade with Manu after the season (while he still has value to other teams), to get a very good, TALL “big”, with some upside. But nobody wants to deal with the front line issues around here. Let’s just bury our head. LOL!

  • SpursfanSteve

    It’s not that i dont want to fix the issues, its just that i dont think they are quite as big as you think they are. Looking at the matchups, i just dont see a reason to hit the panic button. When we are healthy, we are as good as the best team in the league. Hell, even when we havent been healthy, we’ve been better than most. I think the fact that our guards are so much better than most of the other guards it offsets some of the issues our lack of bigs provides. There is not a single team that is solid 1-5.

    Nelson is good, but overrated.
    Carter is soft
    Pietrus is a solid role player but nothing to write home about
    Lewis is good when he’s involved in the game, but isnt an excellent or consistent defender.
    Howard is a beast, he carries the team. But if he gets in foul trouble, which we’ve shown we can get him into, Gortat isnt the least bit intimidating.

    Bynum may come back and be in top form, or my come back like he did a couple years ago, out of shape and unable to really contribute.
    Gasol is one of the best bigs in the league.
    Artest is showing how much of an upgrade he was over Ariza. BUT he’s not too fast to kill us on offense. In fact, we can have a big guard him, and have RJ guard Odom.
    Bryant has been banged up all year but has been killer anyway.
    Fisher is a corpse. Even his shot has fallen this year.
    Our bench is still FAR superior to the Lakers bench. Last game, when we cross matched some players, we effectively dealth with Odom, who has always been the Laker who killed us. We put a smaller defender on Odom, someone who was quick and gave him fits anytime he put the ball on the floor. If we can make Odom a jump shooter and keep Kobe and Gasol off the FT line, we beat the lakers, with or without a healthy Bynum.

    I’d write up Clevelands mismatches too, but i’m at work right now so i may do it when i get home.

    As far as Splitter coming over, he knows his best chance to make it to the NBA is going to be with the Spurs. In a recent in-game interview, RC Buford seemed pretty confident he was coming over. The mid-level isnt much, but he’s not going to get much more anywhere else on his first deal. Although young, he’s getting older and he needs to get in the league sooner rather than later if he ever wants a max type NBA deal. With the lockout coming up, it would be in his best interests to get signed up now. He’s not going to see the kind of money post lockout that he will before it. When we drafted him, he didnt want to be tied down to the rookie scale. If we give him the MLE for a year or two, and let him know if he makes good on it he becomes the foundation and will get paid like it after the second year, 2012-2013 will be a big payday for him. I might be wrong, but i think the only people on the books at that point are Manu and Hill.

    The main point is, even if we cant win a title this year, we’re going to stay at least in contention for the forseeable future.

  • r

    Wow we have so many smart ppl on here.I’m supprised non of them are NBA GMs with all the information they have that I guess the Spurs front office doesn’t read or care about. How about we just support our team and enjoy the ride.Spurs haven’t led us wrong before I trust in that they know what they are doing. I’m happy we arnt the kings or Golden state. About to be 13 50 win seasons is pretty damn good so is the 4 NBA championships

  • Jesse Blanchard

    Let’s just agree that it doesn’t matter because Manu Ginobili is signed for the long haul, so enjoy the ride.

    But just for fun, when talking about needing a big, shotblocking center: what do you think Tim Duncan is?

    We’ve got a midlevel and it’ll probably be best spent on a big, but we’re a bit away from that. Enjoy the playoffs.

  • Jim Henderson

    April 11th, 2010 at 4:39 am

    “The main point is, even if we cant win a title this year, we’re going to stay at least in contention for the forseeable future.”

    You make some fine points. However, in the final analysis, I just don’t agree with your concluding statement, as quoted above. I simply put a higher premium on having young/and/or “in prime”, TALL/talented/athletic “bigs” to win a championship. Look at any previous CHAMPIONSHIP team of recent history. NONE of them had the combination of weaknesses we have on the front line in terms of lack of HEIGHT, older age, and non-intimidating defenders at the rim. You address these weaknesses with a lot of “IFS” in your analysis (e.g., “Howard …….. if he gets in foul trouble), as well as overstate the weaknesses of others (e.g., Gortat is not the least bit intimidating).

    There’s been plenty of very good teams with an imbalance in excellent perimeter players (2006-2007 Suns), but rarely, if ever, do such teams win championships. The only team that seemed to have violated the prerequisites of not having a strong enough front line (although it wasn’t that bad, and it was younger & taller during most of their championship years than ours) was the Bulls of MJ & Pippen. Of course, those BULLS teams played STIFLING “D”, particularly on the perimeter, had hard-nosed, scrappy role players, not to mention MJ’s ALL-WORLD status on offense, and of course having Phil Jackson as coach as well. Anyone in their right mind would be hard-pressed to compare our team to the championship years of the BULLS. They were clearly an anomaly to the “strong” front court requirement, and had IMMENSE compensating strengths.

    Jesse Blanchard
    April 11th, 2010 at 8:30 am

    “Let’s just agree that it doesn’t matter because Manu Ginobili is signed for the long haul, so enjoy the ride. ”

    It does matter if you want to win a championship, because signing Manu to 3 years at 40 million does not bring us closer to getting it. I’m interested in “winning” now, AND over the next several years, not just in being “entertained”.

    “But just for fun, when talking about needing a big, shotblocking center: what do you think Tim Duncan is?”

    We clearly need more than one “shot-blocker” at this point since TD, while still a decent shot-blocker, is blocking just over HALF as many as he did in his “prime”. Part of this is that he’s not able to be on the court, and/or effective for about 17 – 20 minutes a game now (about 7-8 mins. less per game than during his prime years). Thus, we need additional “rim protection” when he’s in, and basic, but effective coverage when he’s out (like during previous championships in 1999, 2003, 2005). And we are not getting it, and unlikely to get it without making a trade, or getting “lucky” that the MLE will be enough.

    I’ll enjoy the playoffs while they last, but I’m under no illusion that we have anything better than a 5/1 chance to get a title in the next few years as currently constructed. And even that’s making a big stretch.

  • VP of Common Sense


  • Jim Henderson


  • c/o

    No comment

  • rtjnagar

    @jim henderson. spurs is not ur team, its Peter Holt. if u don’t like what the FO is doing, then shut up and look for a new team that suits ur idea of basketball organization. or better, call Detroit and buy that team. if u don’t like Manu, the hell with you. Manu is spurs and spurs is Manu. we don’t pay tickets @ subscribes nba broadband just to see ur “smart idea”. basketball is entertainment and fun and the reason why spurs is well loved, conotes only of one word… MANU! Now, please SHUT UP….

  • Pingback: Is Tiago Splitter the San Antonio Spurs' big fix? | 48 Minutes of Hell()

  • Pingback: Spurs pick up fourth year options on Leonard and Joseph()

  • Pingback: San Antonio’s favorite Spur just can’t quit()