On the loss of Manu Ginobili


Manu Ginobili is the Spurs’ only certain All-Star. He is, still, the third best shooting guard in the NBA. And some nights, he’s much better than that. He is San Antonio’s best player.

In last night’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves the Spurs also lost Manu Ginobili to a broken bone in his left hand. Initial indicators suggest he will miss 4-6 weeks of basketball. Hopefully, upon further examination, the news is not worse.

The Spurs will look to Tony Parker, James Anderson, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Gary Neal, and Richard Jefferson to assume Ginobili’s production on offense and defense, but he’s a special player and it’s simply impossible to reproduce Ginobili. Nevertheless, San Antonio has been stockpiling young talent on the wing for two seasons, and if there is a silver lining in this injury, it’s that those players will have an opportunity to blossom in his absence.

Of special concern to the Spurs is Ginobili’s role as their best distributor. DeJuan Blair, in particular, plays much better basketball when he is working the screen and roll with Ginobili. Blair is off to a very good start to the season, and Ginobili’s activity as a passer is a big part of Blair’s success. In losing Ginobili, do the Spurs lose a little bit of Blair too?

In the past, the Spurs have always dealt with an injury to one of their core of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili by getting a burst of great production from one or both of the others. I’m not sure they can do that this season. There is great risk in demanding too much of Duncan or Parker in the early weeks of this season’s condensed schedule. Duncan, in particular, would not withstand heavy minutes on short rest. This is not to say Duncan is an automatic injury—it’s more of a comment about his ability to play well on limited rest and what it would mean for his body in advance of the postseason.

Big picture, then. The Spurs will be fortunate to play .500 basketball without Ginobili. If the Spurs play much worse than .500 in Ginobili’s absence, they could struggle to secure a playoff seed, even with a late season push, upon his return.

Strange times, San Antonio.

  • Francesco

    Haven’t posted in a long time, but this occasion is too good to pass up to remind everyone of what we should do: trade Parker for a lottery pick, tank the season by playing and give experience to the young guys, get another high pick.
    Give away one year to ensure you have a shot at winning for the next ten.
    With a couple of big men coming up next year, no better time.
    Imagine how many options you’d have next year with a couple of top 6 picks and a lot of cap space, plus Duncan, Manu and the rest.

  • http://radsci.uthscsa.edu/index.php/User:Nima Nima K.

    Problem is, even if we did tank, we’d still be better than WAS, CLE, DET, etc. so we wouldn’t have a guaranteed top pick, assuming they are all Timmy/DR type players, which they aren’t.

  • Anonymous

    Tim V., If that comes to pass on playing below .500 would you want them to try extra hard to secure the last seed in the playoffs as this crew stands with disregard or passing up the opportunity of getting a good draft pick in next season’s draft? If your in the playoffs your not getting a good pick. It’s all about the future. Nobody was hoping to get to .500 when DROB was hurt for most of the season they knew what they were going to get if they just let the loses pile up. Well at lest Pop knew after he fired Bob Hill. Point is we have some broken down players and some young talent that’s not ready for prime time just yet. This is the young players season for auditioning for Pop’s future team. What do you think?

  • Anonymous

    We can lose more than those teams if they try its not that hard to lose. They might not be Timmy or DR but someone might treat that pick as such for their needs in an other position to suit their team. Doesn’t mean we need to draft that pick but get good NBA value for it. Trade for a good PF that’s more than what we have now. Picky aren’t we?

  • Anonymous

    And with the 1st pick of the 2012 NBA draft the San Antonio Spurs select….And with the 29th pick of the 2012 NBA draft the San Antonio Spurs select…

    Which would you rather hear? 

  • Anonymous

    I’ll take a top 10 talent over this season at this point. Really.

  • Francesco

    Elaborating on the scenario of my previous post:
    1- trade Parker (straight up or multi team deal) for expiring contracts and a pick.
    2- tank the season by playing the youngsters until their legs fall off. Ask Duncan to sacrify a shortened season with a fake injury.
    3- in the off season amnesty Jefferson

    Assuming we re-sign TD and Neal for about 8 millions combined, we’ll have:
    Joseph, Manu, Neal, Anderson, Green, Leonard, Bonner, Blair, Duncan, Splitter

    And we will be about 25 millions under the cap.

    Even assuming D. Howard and D. Williams don’t want to come to San Antonio,
    among the list of next year likely free agents there are such veterans as:
    – Hinrich, Miller, Billups, Nash, Mo Williams, Garnett, Kaman

    College big men Andre Drummond and Anthony Davis are projected to be picked in the first 5 selections.

    And again, with that cap space and picks you can get extremely creative…

  • Anonymous

    Let’s hope we lose every game from here on out . I want that #1 pick and Dallas at this point is challenging us for it. If we are moving forward I say forget the old meat and just concentrate on the young talent now and in the draft. But maybe trade for a good big for next season.

  • Anonymous

    Before anybody gets their panties in wad I meant the old meat Francesco was taliking about.

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  • Aaron Pinchback

    But we wouldn’t be ensuring anything except that we’d have a losing season this year. We’ve been spoiled as Spurs fans. Thanks to David and Tim, we assume that any time you go into the lottery, you’re going to come out with a franchise cornerstone. We’ve been extraordinarily lucky in the draft as a fan base. As fans of the Clippers, Kings, Wizards and T-Wolves can tell you, being in the lottery doesn’t guarantee that you’ll hit the jackpot. 

    I have no answers. At this point, I’m just tired of Manu. This is now the 4th season in the last 5 where the season has been hijacked by one of his injuries. At least he’s done us the favor of getting hurt early rather than letting us get into the playoffs before falling apart. They should have never extended him. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/rickashford Rick Ashford

    One interesting thing to consider is the new rules on delegating guys to the Toros.  Let’s just say that DeMarcus Cousins does come on the market, and that we could come up with some package that got him here.  We could have him play in Austin to A) force him to mature (like did with Stephen Jackson his first year here) and B) prevent him from helping us win too many games.  The same could be done with Anderson and Leonard.  You could essentially field a D-League team, while still getting those guys playing experience.  

    Since you can now bring guys up and down as much as you’d like, you could field a full squad against teams like the Heat, Orlando, OKC, etc that we’d lose to regardless, and then play a team of D-League callups against folks like the Kings, Nets, Wizards, etc.

  • Tyler

    Really? We’re 5 games into the season….

  • Tyler


    “Ask Duncan to sacrify a shortened season with a fake injury.”


  • Anonymous

    All this talk about tanking the season is about to make me throw up.

    Besides, if the season is already over without Ginobili right now, the losing will take care of itself.  And what will that teach the young guys on the bench?  “If it looks bad, just give up, maybe we can land someone that can help next year.”  Just go out and play the dang game.

  • Anonymous

    Get a bag and barf in it already. Without Manu it’s a forgone conclusion. Besides it’s not a bad thing for the young players they are getting paid good money to play regardless of the situation. They’ll be fine they not babies.

  • Anonymous

    Pop & RC weren’t part of those organizations you mentioned.

  • Anonymous

    Yes Really.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. No faking injuries on this team. But the losing will take care of itself. Sorry about the reality. Onward to next season where the team average age will be 24. Youth.

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  • Aaron Pinchback

    Pop & RC are great at what they do, but they don’t guarantee anything either. The Spurs have about as great a 20-year run as any team in any sport could ever hope for. To assume that they can just extend by simply forfeiting one season is risky. Its entirely likely they if there were to pitch this season as some suggest, you’d only be accelerating the inevitable decline. 

    I don’t want to see that happen, but I’m not sure its avoidable. The Spurs could have started the rebuilding process a few years ago. Instead the traded for Jefferson and extended Manu and Tony. Two of those three deal already look like bad gambles. 

  • Tyler

    No one disagrees that the younger guys getting more playing time is the silver lining to Manu’s injury. But to advocate the losing of games for draft purposes does a disservice to the organization and its fans that pay a lot of money to see the team perform at a high level. In fact, it goes against everything the Spurs organization was built upon. It’s bad from a basketball point-of-view as well as a business perspective. 

    Also, corporate culture is difficult to build and easy to destroy. I would argue no other professional sports franchise is more respected, revered, and emulated. To tank games is the opposite of that culture. No good comes out of that.

    And besides, this is a pointless debate – it’s not going to happen. 

  • Varner

    People are asking this in a number of different ways, so I’ll say I don’t mind if the Spurs win or lose. However, just missing the playoffs, or even chasing a 7th or 8th seed, probably means a wasted season in terms of the franchise’s long term future.

    I’d cheer the Spurs just as hard if they committed to playing the young guys more, even if that meant losing.  

  • TD BestEVER

    The Spurs SHOULD have traded Parker when they had the chance and this would not be happening…….. We would still have Hill and Manu wouldn’t have needed to play as many minutes as he has the past 2 years.  So now I think we HAVE to move TP to any team that still wants him…….maybe Portland/Toronto, and just get back what ever we can and some money.  Then I think we really need to find a wingman that can get his own to take some of the scoring load off of Manu.

  • TD BestEVER

    This also points out how really bad our roster has been the last 2 years, that we depend so heavily on aging players that are injury prone……We should have never let go of Alonzo Gee/Garrett Temple types of players….young and athletic…….. Something the Spurs NEVER seem to get their hands on……. We always get the smart semi athletic types(Tiago/Anderson) and that isn’t going to cut it anymore.  Time to clean house and shake it up for next year……

  • Titletown99030507d

    Thanks Tim that’s pretty much what I meant. I will still go to their games and support them but if they are battling for last spot in the playoffs I’d rather them not make the playoffs and benefit from the draft. For that person who said people will not appreciate them losing….they’ll get over it like they did the lockout especially if it means picking up promising talent by virtue of their draft position. This decline started years ago and I’m tired of those people thinking you can put a bandaid on this situation and go several mote years like this. Uh no.

  • http://radsci.uthscsa.edu/index.php/User:Nima Nima K.

    Well, I have a feeling we havent seen the last of the Spurs. The compressed schedule is likely to injure key players in other teams as well. So this may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

  • gribbit

    29th, easy. That would mean at least a 2 seed in the playoffs, though that would take a moderate miracle right now.

  • Titletown99030507d

    And what did that bring us? A first round exit.

  • David

    I actually wouldnt mind if the spurs play the season through Duncan, making him the focus of the offence once again, stop monitoring his minutes and let him finish his last season in a blaze of glory. Now if thats enough to get us into the playoffs let manu and tony see how far deep they can get us, either way itd be great for the young guys to get some playoff experience, Id much rather that than tanking a season.

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  • sam

    y is everybody reacting like the season is over,  it is 5 games into the season and we r 3/2  ,    and most of our guys r not in rythm yet.    tony , duncan ,  still look out of shape   , due to short pre season .  also neal will probably be back in few games.      and we have anderson, kawai,   playing good def.  and they will get better as the season goes on.     

    lets not forget this team won 61 games last season.  also we have players playing better than last season , like splitter,   also i think we can assume neal  will be better this season since he knows the system now.

    my worry is that we need another big man to help.   becuase we can’t afford having tim injured by the end of the season.  

  • Anonymous

    Playing the Grizzlies got us out. Any other team and the Spurs would have played Heat in finals not Dallas.

  • Anonymous

    This is such a blow to lose Manu to a broken hand. The silver lining is that we’re still at the starting point of the season. We shouldn’t tank season, as Manu would be back in 4-6 weeks without rushing him back as we need him fully healed after this injury. He was shooting the lights out to start the season.

    Spurs played 8% of their season games, and should try to win as many games as possible. The other teams in the West haven’t had good starts to the season and we should take advantage of this situation by not falling too far behind the 4th seed in the west. We use this opportunity as on-the-job training for the youngsters, and hope that they can develop and adapt on the fly.

    Anderson, Leonard and Green should be given extended minutes now, and Neal will hopefully be back soon. RJ should also shoulder some of the scoring that Manu brings in every night. He is shooting really well and playing with lots of confidence. The season is not over. If this season is Duncan’s last then he should end it on a high. Parker needs to step up or be traded (although his trade value isn’t what it used to be).

    This season should not be the swansong of a dying team.

  • Anonymous

    All I can hope is that this is bad luck with good consequences for the future.

  • JustinFL
  • Hobson13

    Let’s look at some numbers.  Assuming Manu is out or at less than full speed until the end of February we will:

    Have played exactly 30 games (or almost half the season) without our best player
    Have played 18 of those 30 games on the road
    Have played 8 games on the second night of a back to back

    Unless Duncan turns back the clock 5 years or RJ (or someone else turns) into an All-star, I don’t think we’ll have to worry about the losses piling up this season.  The real question is how many games we lose.  Do we lose so few that we are 6-8 seed just to get bounced in the first round and pick up a mid-late first round pick?  Or do we lose enough to fall out of the playoffs and possibly get a franchise player?

    Virtually everyone agrees (including BSPN analysts) that we need a good young big, preferrably an athletic PF or a good young C.  While the 2012 draft may only have one great C prospect (Drummond), it has several VERY elite PFs( Anthony Davis, Perry Jones, Jared Sullinger, Thomas Robinson to name a few) that have star potential.
    I actually agree with everything Francesco said regarding trading Parker, tanking the season, and amnestying RJ.  We could have ton of cash and several great picks next year. It’s time to reboot this franchise before we are left with old has-beens and young role players.

  • Anonymous

    Both of your scenarios are unrealistic. Your range is more like picks 8 – 22.
    There might be a potential all-star wing in that range if the guy overcomes his flaws (say Austin Rivers or Terrance Jones), but you’re more likely getting a nice role-player not unlike the guys we already have in Anderson, KL, Splitter, Blair (Doron Lamb, Micheal Kidd-Gilchrist, John Henson, Thomas Robinson).

    Is that what you are rooting for? Tanking will make little difference. If Pop simply plays youth, everyone can just do their jobs with pride as pros, as competitors, and not give up on the Spurs elite winning percentage over the course of their franchise history.

  • Anonymous

    Like it or not…every great team has a swan song.

    The question is…how do the Spurs best prepare for a new era that doesn’t leave them just mediocre for the next 10 years?

    Heaven forbid they become the next Dallas Cowboys after their championship years of the past.

  • Anonymous

    DAL traded their pick for Odom! They are NOT tanking.

  • Anonymous

    “everyone can just do their jobs with pride as pros, as competitors, and
    not give up on the Spurs elite winning percentage over the course of
    their franchise history.” Read more: http://www.48minutesofhell.com/on-the-loss-of-manu-ginobili#ixzz1iRoUoj2w

    I’m not saying Hobson13 is 100% correct…but this statement is unrealistic as well with the players this team has at this time sans Ginobili.

  • Anonymous

    Idk what trade value Parker has. I have always said Manu and Tim were our championship window, but once that window slammed shut (with the resignings of RJ and Bonner), EVERYBODY has to be considered tradeable. Everybody.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t follow. I was trying to reply to Titletown’s post above, but misplaced my reply. But the facts remain that MG is not out all season, Neal’s return is probably good for a few wins, and Pop will simply outcoach much of the opposition. The Spurs are unlikely to get Drummond or Davis. Do I want to see the next generation of Spurs All-Stars? Yes! I argued passionately for trading TP and Blair for picks prior to the 2010 draft to get a shot at Greg Monroe and Paul George. But now, the Spurs don’t have such tradeable assets, and meanwhile are not a bottom 5 team in this league.

  • Juddpfeiffer

    slow down guys. he isn’t dead. we still have a smart team with the best coach in the nba. the spurs can easily make the playoffs and manu will be back and eager to dominate soon enough. calm down.

  • Thomasholdren

    The most scandalous move in sports management. Fire a coach when his best player gets injured so you can grab one of the top players of all time. This is the reason why I dont respect gregg. Flamboyantly snaked the guy and then took all the credit. Almost as bad as that loser Phil Jackson only coaching where the best players play. Same as LeChoke…. Pop will be done when Tim is done. 

  • Thomasholdren

    drafting a player wont change the coach. And that my friend is why the first round exit… 

  • Thomasholdren

    While the “best coach in the NBA” is an ultimate fail, I agree that the spurs can make the playoffs. 

    The people who are calling to “tank” a season must have never played any sport ever. Losing on purpose is the most disgraceful thing that a “competitor” can do. It would be like calling a charge on the final point of a pickup game to get the ball and win… No one need this girly hocus-pocus. We have played 5 games. I

  • Anonymous

    What I was referring to was the fact that Ginobili is probably the only all star on this team.  Parker can still be good as he once was, but can’t do it consistently.  Duncan is far from what he used to be and probably will decline even more.  If the Spurs are going to have “winning ways” this year…a player on this team other than Ginobili had best become the reincarnation of Ginobili until he returns.

    That situation just may put the Spurs on a path to not even making the playoffs this year and/or even keep them under .500.  And that’s without even trying to tank.

    As far as Pop out coaching other teams that have better talent?  That remains to be seen…Pop’s success has always been predicated on a healthy (in their prime) Duncan, Parker, Ginobili.  He’s never one a championship or gotten far in the playoffs when any of them have been injured.  I can’t think of one coach that ever has when their star(s) on the team got injured.

    Anyway, I hope you’re not correct.  But when the season ends you may be.  And all that will accomplish, if you are correct regarding the Spurs, is a lose/lose situation.  Spurs with a declining big three making the playoffs but getting knocked out early only to not have a decent pick in the draft?

    That is the last scenario I want to happen.  But, again…you could be correct that is exactly what happens….unless???

  • Anonymous

    Agreed.  The players probably wouldn’t tank.  But a businessman may want the team to tank.  And a coach could certainly manipulate a roster.

    You see…it always boils down to money.  Players want all they can get in a contract.  That’s why they usually don’t hold loyalty to playing for any team.  Vice versa…(small market) owners want the best talent they can get to make their team winners  a.k.a. -“profitable”.

  • Tyler

    If you’re looking at it strictly from a financial perspective, tanking is the least desirable option. Forgoing playoff games and the added gate/ad revenue is what gets the Spurs organization close to break even, or slightly over the hump. 

    Talent does not equal profitability.