Will this month’s NBA Finals be the last we see of San Antonio Spurs swingman Manu Ginobili in an NBA uniform? Nah, guy. Nah.
As the San Antonio Express-News’ Jeff MacDonald noted, it’s just fine to wonder about Ginobili’s NBA future. The 36-year old is a free agent this summer, and after season-long struggles with both injuries and his shooting touch, the excuse of the expired contract could be a convenient way to ease out of negotiations that would almost certainly ask him to take a pay cut down from the $14.1 million he made this season. Toss in a few years of potential upcoming international service and the possibility that Ginobili could make both his first and final NBA seasons end in a championship win, and you would think he’d have the perfect opportunity to Euro-step (we know, we know, he’s not European) into the sunset.
Manu’s not having any of that. From the Express-News:
“I’m not planning on retiring,” Ginobili told the Express-News.
“There are some days, you’re depressed because you’re hurt and you want to say, ‘The hell with that,’ ” Ginobili said. “But I love doing this a lot. Hopefully it’s going to be here.”
“From Day 1, I said until July 1 I’m not going to talk about it at all,” Ginobili said. “I don’t want it to be an issue.”
As discussed earlier, it has become an issue because of the seemingly neat bow Ginobili could top his career with by calling it a day sometime later this month. The talk also ramps up when we consider the most recent trends provided by Manu’s career arc.
Ginobili is shooting just 38 percent during this year’s postseason, and while he never was the sort of guy that would lash out for 40-point games every other week, he’s yet to top 21 points during the Spurs’ run to the Finals, while averaging just 11.5 points per game. This is coming on the heels of missing 22 games during both the 2011-12 and 2012-13 regular seasons.
As it’s always been with Manu, though, you have to break out the per-minute stats to understand how good he’s been.
Per-minute, his assists have never been higher; Ginobili acts as his team’s backup point guard, and he runs a weaving, moving, frightful Spurs offense to perfection for long stretches. His shooting percentage dipped and turnovers spiked this season, but overall he still plays an efficient brand of basketball that includes strong finishes around the rim, dangerous looks in transition, and plenty of free throws. Most important to the Spurs is his versatility, as Ginobili can go from a rather invisible corner three-point shooter to a ball-dominator in an instant, depending on his function in the flow of the game.
It’s easy to assume that after a well-rested intro to perhaps his last Finals appearance, Ginobili would want to go out in a blaze of efficiency, nailing jumper after runner on legs that will have nine full days off between game action. Ginobili, who turns 36 in the offseason, just isn’t ready for that sort of sportswriter-pleasing final chapter.
Good for him. Bad, potentially, for those trying to take a charge from the sure Hall of Famer in transition next year. And good for us, because we’re not ready to see Manu Ginobili hang it up either.