This is the second in a 2-Part series on whether the Spurs should re-sign Manu Ginobili at the end of the upcoming Spurs season.
As Jeff said in part 1 of this series, Manu Ginobili will go down as one of the greatest in Spurs history. He's also a lock to have his number 20 jersey hanging in the rafters of the AT&T Center for years to come. But with his contract coming to an end after this season, should the Spurs re-sign him?
The answer for me is yes, on the condition that Manu takes a pay cut and that he signs a one year contract with the second being a team option.
I'm a huge Manu fan and have followed him very closely since he was drafted by the Spurs. He's been my favorite Spurs player since David Robinson and Sean Elliott retired. But at the same time, I'm not blinded by my fandom. I've been a fan of the team for much longer than I've been a fan of Manu, so I can look at things from the perspective of what's best for the team.
And what's best for the team is having Manu in silver & black and perhaps more importantly, not having Manu on another team or rival.
Manu has been a very integral part of the Spurs 2003, 2005 and 2007 Championships. In fact, many said Manu should have been named the 2005 Finals MVP. I doubt that the Spurs would be four-time NBA champions without him.
It has been said that Manu should have been traded after the 2005 championship when he still had value. Trading a player who averaged 20, 5 and 4 in the playoffs not only would have been seen as the dumbest move in Spurs history, the Spurs wouldn't have been even close to winning the 2007 title and I don't know that they'd be better off today without him.
Sure, I'll hear in the comments about the one game he lost to the Mavs because of his foul on Dirk, but I'll point to the many games he won for the Spurs as well as the championship team he put on his back in 2005.
Aside from that and the accolades Manu has collected, he's also been one of the best two-way players the Spurs organization and its fans have ever seen. Having a guy like Manu to slash to the basket, hit step-back jumpers and break a few ankles along the way has added a new dimension to the Spurs offense.
But then comes his all-out hustle defense. Bruce Bowen has been credited for most of the Spurs lock-down defense over the last several years, and deservedly so, but I think Manu is often overlooked and not credited enough, especially when it comes to Defensive Player of the Year voting.
But looking beyond tangibles is where much of Manu's value comes from. Sure, you can replace offense and defense, although not likely with one player. But you can't teach passion, heart and intensity. Traits the Spurs roster have often lacked. You can't show a player how to be the ultimate competitor. Some players have talent oozing out of them, but they don't have the work ethic, they don't have the heart to put it all on the line, they don't have the unselfishness to take a spot on the bench and let a lesser player start.
How else can you describe Manu aside from calling him a complete player. Ask any GM in this league and they'll likely tell you that even with the health issues and concerns, they'd gladly pay $10 million a year to get a player of that caliber for 44 games a year.
I know Manu is turning 32 this month and that he has a history of ankle injuries. But what's the alternative?
The Spurs could always trade him, but are they going to get anything close to equal value back? Doubtful. Even if they did, take a look at some of the players in his salary range:
Bobby Simmons, Eddy Curry, Al Harrington, Samuel Dalembert, Mike Dunleavy, Andrew Bogut, Jamal Crawford, Boris Diaw, Mike Miller, Darius Miles, Quentin Richardson and the list goes on.
There are really only a handful of players in his salary range that would be worth trading for in Josh Smith, Tayshaun Prince and Josh Howard, but is trading for those players realistic.
If the Spurs take a lesser player with potential, will he really be a replacement for Manu and is it fair to ask anyone to be his replacement? Is there also a guarantee that said player won't struggle learning Pop's offensive and defensive schemes?
Sure, it's fun playing the role as virtual G.M., but at the end of the day, I wouldn't want to be the one having to explain to Peter Holt why I traded away or didn't re-sign a fan favorite and player of Manu's caliber.
Early last month, Manu said he didn't feel any pain at all and guaranteed that he would be at 100% by training camp.
So if Manu can come back and stay healthy for most of the season, and he takes a pay cut, how can you not bring him back. In this case, I think the potential reward is well worth the risk. Especially if that risk comes in at $6-7 million a year.