Spurs sign Ginobili as cap space grows thin
There was never a question whether or not Manu Ginobili would finish his career as a member of the San Antonio Spurs. It was always just a matter of when that time would come. But, once Manu wrote of his intentions to stay, the questions were about “how much?”
Ginobili reached a 2-year, $14 million agreement today to stay in San Antonio, a deal that will likely span the remainder of his NBA career. The countdown has officially begun on the Big 3: two more years, at most, is probably all they have left.
The Manu situation has been a polarizing one in recent weeks and months, and his value to this team has been in serious question. While the $14.1 million he made last season was a gross overpay for his production, it was a fairly typical final-year-of-the-contract type of situation. According to an in-depth and performance-specific statistical analysis (I can’t link to it or refer to it here in a public forum, I’m sorry), Ginobili’s play over the past year was worth roughly $8.5 million. So, while a $7-million salary might seem a bit much for a guy who struggled as a 35-year-old, and for a team that had a real chance to make some significant moves under the cap, it does make things a little more clear in San Antonio.
With this agreement, it seems the Spurs are looking to stay over the salary-cap line, especially after yesterday’s events surrounding Tiago Splitter and his new 4-year, $36-million deal. By doing this, it means they’ll have access to the full Mid-Level exception of ~$5 million. We’ve outlined the possibilities before of using the amnesty provision on Bonner, but that seems unlikely at this point, when using the MLE after exceeding the cap would basically give the Spurs the most financial flexibility. Amnestying Bonner and letting Neal walk would essentially provide this team with less cap space, and definitely less depth, than they’d have with a full crew returning and an available MLE.
The Spurs have been methodical about this, and I’d imagine they’ll continue to be so. But it seems at this point they’ll be looking at around $5 million to spend on one (maybe two) more player(s) in the very near future. The Spurs used most of their Bi-Annual exception to sign Nando De Colo last season, so that’s basically a moot point now.
Whether the Spurs want to divvy up that $5 million between more than one player remains to be seen. But if they’d like to bring in a significant contributor, they might need to spend every penny of that on one person.