A few interesting things happened at Spurs media day Monday. Eddy Curry turned up in a San Antonio Spurs uniform, DeJuan Blair blew off WOAI's Don Harris, and Tim Duncan admitted Stephen Jackson's rap albums and Tony Parker's bar fight add to the Spurs' street cred. But to me, the most interesting quote came from guard Manu Ginobili, who admitted the end was near without completely admitting the end was near when discussing being in the final year of his contract.
“If I’m going to play next year, it’s highly likely it’s going to be here,” he said. “So I really don’t care (about this being a contract season).”
That's the first time Ginobili had made a comment like that with any sort of time frame on it. Regardless of whether this is Manu's last year, this does mean Ginobili's role is something that's going to be replaced before too long. The only problem is, and this isn't even taking Manu's intangibles in to account, finding the a new, elite level shooting guard is tougher now than any other time in recent history. ESPN's Tom Haberstroh, using ESPN's NBA Rank as his basis, looked at the lack of quality shooting guards in the NBA. Only 14 shooting guards are in the ESPN's top 100 and only two, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, are in the top 20 (Ginobili clocked in at 25).
A lot of things could be at play here, Haberstroh has several theories on why shooting guards have fallen off, including the rise of scoring point guards. Ginobili isn't on the level of Wade and Bryant, mostly because the combination of injuries and a careful eye on his minutes limits his overall production, but he's probably still the third best shooting guard in the league depending on James Harden's development or how well Andre Iguodala fits in to the Nuggets' system. So what happens when Manu retires? Where do the Spurs look to replace his productivity? We don't know enough about Nando De Colo to say he's the answer, though we can say he's not the sneaky good athlete Ginobili is. Adam Hanga? Probably not. Danny Green? A starting two guard for sure, but he and Ginobili don't exactly have similar styles of play.
So if the Spurs have to look outside the family for a new shooting guard what are the options? Let's assume stealing James Harden away from Oklahoma City isn't an option. Then you start looking at names like Tyreke Evans (you could talk me in to it), Andre Iguodala (would need to opt out of his deal) or soon to be pros like Shabazz Muhammed out of UCLA and Archie Goodwin out of Kentucky. Both guys can really score and have great motors. Both of those guys would require the Spurs to move in to the top ten, and probably top five to draft either guy.
There's a third option and we may have seen the first glimpses of it in Las Vegas. If Kawhi Leonard can become a go to scorer, it changes what the Spurs needs once Ginobili leaves, whether it's next summer, two summers or three summers from now. Ginobili's words don't mean anything for the Spurs' front office. They knew this day would be coming sooner than most fans. There's no doubt they've been planning for it. It's just another example of the challenges that await this organization in the near (but hopefully not too near) future.
It's impossible to find a guy eventually "replace" Manu because he's so unique and he can changes the game by himself. De Colo obviously is not that material even he reach his ceiling. The only player I could think of, that could be the most similar to Manu in today's NBA, is Greivis Vasquez. Vasquez can start, he can also lights out from the bench and score. Of course Manu has those intangibilities that probably no one in the NBA can really compare; but aside from that, I see 60% Manu in him despite Vasquez is less athletic. However, he's only 25, still have time to improve, and he could someday developed to an unique player, just like Manu.
I'm sure the front office has thought about it, but I think they'll still have time to search because I just can't see this season as Manu's last season. I mean I know there's a chance, but I just have that gut feeling that Manu will sign for 2 more seasons and retire when Timmy retires.
The Great manu ginonbili, there never be another, but kawhi leonard has the that star potential to come close and he has the competetive spirit to be great.
i think the best options are getting tyreke evans or hoping kawhi develops a passing game. from the looks of vegas is does look like kawhi is getting a better handle, but what we're overlooking in all our excitement is that yeah thats great for himself, but that doesnt mean his passing is improved and that is where ginobili will be missed the most IMO. yes the spurs will need a second ball handler once manu is gone, but that means being able to create for others and not just yourself, and in that respect i think kawhi is still very far away. i like the idea of tyreke because, in all honesty, im tired of all the harden comparisons as the next ginobili. theyre both left handed and have tricky foot work...and what else? hardens passing is wayyyy overrated and its easy to see why (if i played next to passers like westbrook and durant im sure my passing would look pretty awesome too), and hes a natural sg not a passing sg. tyreke started out as a pg and can be seen as a pg with sg size (exactly manu's defined position). tyreke can score like manu and has footwork like him too and can pass. the reason why hes not seen as better? he plays on a young team who never seems to grow up like okc did, after his rookie season his team switched focus from him to cousins who is a head case and probably hindered evans playing abilities, and hes been with a mediocre franchise with coaches who arent all that great. on top of that, this past year isiaih thomas took over as pg and because thorton cant play anything but sg tyreke was forced to move to sf (DUMB!!!). but this could easily benefit the spurs because after this year his value could be seen as bad because of the past couple of season when he could easily be a steal for any team on the cheap who will know how to utilize him. i say the spurs could get a guy who once averaged 20-5-6 and is still less than 25 years old! either that or hope kawhi starts to develop cause in all honesty the guy is more of a swingman than a combo forward like everyone thought he'd be and should in that case develop a game similar to manus
Was the eddie Curry comment a joke or is he really at our Media day? Maybe he just had lunch plans with Diaw? Seriosly, is he with the spurs?