Manu Ginobili announces he's coming back, as Spurs' strong summer continues

Manu Ginobili announces he's coming back, as Spurs' strong summer continues

The San Antonio Spurs' offseason just keeps getting better. After celebrating the Fourth of July by agreeing to terms with All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, the Spurs kicked off the week by keeping another legend in house:

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Yep, that's right — everybody's favorite Argentine passing wizard, Manu Ginobili, will don the black and silver for at least one more NBA campaign.

As is the case with fellow future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, who announced last week that he'll be back next season, the specifics of Manu's new deal with the Spurs have yet to be hammered out, according to Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski. No agreements can be finalized until the end of the NBA's free agency moratorium on July 9, and given the myriad moving pieces now occupying space on San Antonio's balance sheet — including Aldridge, newly maxed out small forward Kawhi Leonard and re-signed shooting guard Danny Green — and the looming uncertainty surrounding whether the salary cap line for next season will stay at its originally projected $67.1 million figure or bump up to $69.1 million, as's Ken Berger reported it could, there are still some ducks to get in a row before San Antonio can put the finishing touches on its masterpiece of a summer. (That $2 million difference in the cap line could wind up being the difference between keeping reserve spark plug Patty Mills or having to trade him, which is an especially big deal after the Spurs withdrew their qualifying offer to backup point guard Cory Joseph, who then agreed to a reported four-year, $30 million deal to head back to his native Canada and join the Toronto Raptors.)

The financial gymnastics necessary to fit Aldridge while accommodating the new, higher cap figures for Leonard and Green will require both Duncan and Ginobili to accept substantially lower salaries next season. Both players have earned well more $100 million in NBA salaries over the course of their Hall of Fame careers; both have agreed to pay cuts to help head coach Gregg Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford spend money when necessary to help San Antonio augment its core; neither are considered likely to balk at the prospect of doing so again. Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News writes that Ginobili is expected to slot into the Spurs' $2.8 million "room exception" after San Antonio renounces his current cap hold in order to help carve out the necessary space to sign Aldridge.

Ginobili, who will turn 38 in three weeks, was expected to make the announcement as to whether he'd retire or return in a first-person column in the Argentine newspaper La Nacion. After 13 NBA seasons, plus seven more playing professionally in Argentina and Italy before joining the Spurs in 2002, there was real concern that Ginobili had reached the end of the line. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard is coming off one of his least productive years, having turned in his lowest per-game scoring average since his rookie season, his lowest per-minute scoring average since his sophomore campaign, his lowest field-goal percentage since 2004, his lowest 3-point-shooting mark since 2009 and the highest turnover rate of his career. He capped that down campaign with a disappointing performance in the Spurs' seven-game opening-round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, averaging just eight points per game on 34.9 percent shooting to go with 4.6 assists and 3.4 rebounds in just 18.7 minutes per game.

“Some days you feel proud and think you did great," Ginobili said after the Spurs' first-round defeat. "And other games I say, ‘What the hell am I doing here when I should stay home and enjoy my kids?'”

And yet, by multiple metrics, Ginobili still rated as an above-average player last season. He ranked 15th among NBA shooting guards in Player Efficiency Rating and eighth in ESPN's Real Plus-Minus. He remains one of the league's most gifted passers, a pick-and-roll and transition playmaker whose vision and daring have few rivals in recent league history, and a capable secondary ball-handler and spot-up shooter either alongside or behind Parker. His savvy and big-game experience always seem to come in handy for a Spurs team perpetually competing for titles, and given the multiple losses San Antonio has suffered in its second unit — Joseph to Toronto, Marco Belinelli to the Sacramento Kings, Aron Baynes to the Detroit Pistons — Pop will be grateful to see No. 20 suiting up to captain a shuffled-up reserve crew once more come training camp.

And, frankly, the rest of us should be, too. There have been few characters as singular, as gifted and as compelling to watch as Ginobili over the course of his illustrious career, both in international competition as the leader of Argentina's "Golden Generation" and in an NBA run that has included one Sixth Man of the Year trophy, two All-Star berths, two All-NBA Third Team selections and four NBA championships. The Spurs' summertime signings certainly don't guarantee another long playoff run and push for another title in the historic Duncan-Popovich era. But if they make one, it'll feel only right to see them do so with Manu on the ball, catching the defense off-guard with that herky-jerk style, making a pass nobody else would even see let alone dream of and making the coaches on both the opposing bench and his own briefly consider tearing their hair out.

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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