San Antonio Spurs News

San Antonio Spurs: Manu Ginobili almost left for the Sixers in 2016

By Rob Wolkenbrod

The San Antonio Spurs nearly lost Manu Ginobili in 2016, who was offered the chance to play for the Philadelphia 76ers.

At age 40 and in his 16th NBA season, Manu Ginobili potentially will become a member of the San Antonio Spurs for life. Upon being selected in the 1999 NBA Draft, Ginobili remained with the franchise, winning multiple championships, making two All-Star Games and delivering highlight-reel plays that fans won’t forget.

However, Ginobili’s run as a Spur nearly ended in 2016, according to Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown.

Brown spoke on ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast (h/t Liberty Ballers) about just how close the Sixers were to signing the Argentinian star in 2016’s free agency period. Responding to Wojnarowski’s question on if Philadelphia thought it was getting him, Brown said, “No doubt, you know? And because it was sorta confirmed.”

The former Spurs assistant felt guilty, however. He doesn’t feel comfortable trying to steal Ginobili from Gregg Popovich, even if it was over one year ago:

“To this day, I don’t feel entirely, 100% comfortable about what happened,” Brown continued, “[but] yesterday I texted Manu and Pop and said ‘I knew he was worth the money we were offering after I see him break the Celtics’ back.’”

Brown’s information supports the report of Ginobili receiving a big offer from the Sixers. That may be why San Antonio paid him $14 million to stay, even after making just under $3 million in 2015-16 and posting some of the lowest marks of his career.

However, at this point, Ginobili’s presence goes beyond the numbers. He’s a veteran presence for a younger-than-usual Spurs team, who are eyeing the 2017-18 NBA Championship. Of course, his rotation spot remains, too, as a role player and scorer off the bench.

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This was almost a different story about 17 months ago. If Ginobili left for the Sixers, what would the reaction be?