In the first part of our Contract History series, let’s look back at all seven of Manu Ginobili’s deals with the San Antonio Spurs.
Manu Ginobili might not be the longest-tenured player on the San Antonio Spurs (Tony Parker is at 17 seasons), but he’s the oldest (40 years old). After 16 seasons and four championships, it’s potentially the end of the Argentinian star’s career in the Silver and Black.
Throughout this process, Ginobili has received seven contracts with the Spurs, which started with the deal he signed upon arrival in 2002 and the two-year agreement from the summer of 2017. So, aside from the on-court success, there has been plenty of financial accomplishments.
In the first of our Contract History series this offseason, let’s take a look at Ginobili’s earning, all of which are via Basketball-Reference, and how he performed during each timespan.
2002-04: 2 years, $2.8 million
Slash Line: .425/.354/.778 Season Averages: 10.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.6 SPG, 1.0 3PM
Three years after the 1999 NBA Draft, Manu Ginobili entered the 2002-03 season as a rookie. As a second-round pick, he received a small two-year deal for $1.3 million in 2002-03 and $1.4 million in 2003-04. It’s similar to Davis Bertans’s salaries for the past two seasons, joining the Spurs five years after they selected him in the 2011 NBA Draft.
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Well, it’s safe to say Ginobili exceeded expectations as a 57th overall pick in short order.
Ginobili’s rookie season became a prelude to everything else seen in his career, with 7.6 points on 34.5 percent shooting from behind the arc. With superstars Tim Duncan and David Robinson already in the fold along with Tony Parker’s presence, the then 26-year old acted as a role player on a championship-winning team.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich increased Ginobili’s role in 2003-04, taking time the departed Stephen Jackson left over. Some of this was split with Hedo Turkoglu, but Ginobili improved his numbers almost all across the board, including 12.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists.
These promising two years from Ginobili nearly saw him take a contract from the Denver Nuggets in 2004. However, this of course did not happen and the Spurs gave him a new deal.
Next: Contract No. 2
2004-10: 6 years, $52 million
Slash Line: .458/.381/.839 Season Averages: 16.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.0 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.6 3PM
In what turned out to be the largest contract of Manu Ginobili’s career, the San Antonio Spurs awarded their soon-to-be star with a six-year, $52 million contract in the 2004 offseason. Deals of this length no longer exist in the NBA, as teams can offer five-year agreements to their own players under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Six years kept Ginobili in San Antonio from age 27 to 32, so the Spurs wrapped up his prime seasons. Based on production, that became the case.
Over the deal’s lifespan, Ginobili put up contract-highs in points and rebounds, establishing himself as a foundational piece next to Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. This was highlighted in 2007-08, when the then 30-year old had career-highs in points (19.5) and rebounds (4.8). At the time it was also the first time he had a 3-point shooting percentage above 40 percent.
Ginobili even worked with the Spurs through lineup changes, as Gregg Popovich alternated him between starter and sixth man, when the 6′ 6” shooting guard could clearly take a spot in almost any other team’s starting lineup.
The result of this? The 2007-08 Sixth Man of the Year Award.
By the end of the contract, Ginobili was still in sharp form. His 16.5 points, 4.9 assists and 3.8 rebounds were essential off the bench in the 2009-10 season, and it played into the next deal.
Overall, there’s no reason to argue with San Antonio’s decision to lock up Ginobili for six years. They won two championships in this span (2005, 2007) and received some of this player’s best seasons.
Next: Contract No. 3
2010-13: 3 years, $38.9 million
Slash Line: .445/.360/.849 Season Averages: 14.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1.7 3PM
Once the six-year deal expired, the San Antonio Spurs gave Manu Ginobili a three-year, $38.9 million contract to ride out the tail-end of his prime and into his mid-30’s (33 to 35). This did not go as smoothly, however.
Ginobili’s numbers tailed off a bit, starting with the 2011-12 season. It’s easy to point to the reason, however, as Gregg Popovich decreased his veteran players minutes by seven per game from the 2010-11 campaign. Couple that with an injury that sidelined him for about half of the lockout-shortened season, and it started the inevitable decline.
For the 2012-13 season, Ginobili played in just 60 games, as well. Although he still put up a double-digit point production (11.8), it was his lowest mark since 2002-03.
So, the season averages mostly go towards the 2010-11 season, when Ginobili put up 17.4 minutes, started 79 games and made his second and final All-Star Game. This transpired after the Spurs no longer rostered Keith Bogans, who started 50 games in 2009-10, so the coaching staff placed Ginobili in maybe the biggest role of his career.
While this contract featured injuries, it still produced one of Ginobili’s best seasons and should be seen as successful. It was warranted money after a strong six-year run and earned him even more cash.
Next: Contract No. 4
2013-15: 2 years, $14.5 million
Slash Line: .448/.347/.783 Season Averages: 11.4 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.3 3PM
For the 2013-14 season, the San Antonio Spurs brought Manu Ginobili back on a two-year, $14.5 million contract. With salaries of $7.5 million and $7 million in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, respectively, it was nearly half of what he made in the three-year contract that provided some of his highest average annual values.
One year after the Spurs dropped the NBA Finals to the Miami Heat, the tides turned and the Silver and Black captured the 2014 title. Ginobili went along for the ride, with 12.3 points and 4.3 assists on 46.9 percent shooting in the regular season and 14.3 points on 44 percent shooting in the postseason.
2014-15 saw a noticeable decline, again, in Ginobili’s play. With nearly the same minutes as the year before (22.8 to 22.7) and games (68 to 70), his points per game fell off by nearly two and his field goal percentage went from the aforementioned number to 42.6. Rebounds and assists were status quo, but it became clear the then 37-year old was a role player and the seventh or eighth man off the bench.
For a more analytical approach, Ginobili’s 3.7 Win Shares was then the lowest mark of his career. Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) reached its smallest point, too, at 1.7.
Despite the decline, there were still more contracts to come.
Next: Contract No. 5 and 6
2015-16: 1 year, $2.8 million
Slash Line: .453/.391/.813 Season Averages: 9.6 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.2 3PM
A one-year, $2.8 million contract for Manu Ginobili turned a few heads, at least not until the 2016-17 offseason arrived. It was the lowest salary the San Antonio Spurs gave him since the 2002-03 rookie contract.
The 2015 offseason saw the Spurs open the checkbook for LaMarcus Aldridge, who required a $19.5 million salary for his first season. Given Ginobili’s salary, it seems possible that the organization asked him to forfeit money and recoup the rest of it the following summer.
How did Ginobili do in one of his most inexpensive years? Well, it fell in line with 2014-15, except for slight declines in points, assists, and rebounds. It also continued to establish him as a 3-point shooter to spread the floor (not like this wasn’t the case before, but he trended towards a limited offensive player in his latter years).
Ginobili also played a career-low 19.6 minutes per game, a number that stood for just one year. More evidence of his role-player status.
Ginobili’s work happened on a 67-win team, which only saw the Golden State Warriors top it at an NBA record 73 wins. He even shot 42.9 percent from 3-point range in 10 playoff appearances. It did not result in a title, but it was hard to find disappointment in this play for a 38 year old.
2016-17: 1 year, $14 million
Slash Line: .390/.392/.804 Season Averages: 7.5 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.3 3PM
This contract can basically lump with the 2015-16 deal, as the Spurs paid Ginobili $14 million for one season. It seemed like, as noted, the result of the organization’s potential request for him to take less money.
By the field goal percentage and points per game, this appeared to be Ginobili’s worst NBA season at age 39. It had “this is his final year) written all over it, until the Spurs handed him one more contract.
Next: Contract No. 7
2017-present: 2 years, $5 million
Slash Line: .434/.333/.840 Season Averages: 8.9 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.0 3PM
That brings this to maybe the final contract of Manu Ginobili’s NBA career. The San Antonio Spurs gave him a two-year, $5 million deal in the 2017 offseason. The $2.5 million average annual salary is among the lowest of his career, but it may have been one of the most entertaining seasons of the 40 year old’s time in the Alamo City.
It started with two game-winning shots in the first half of the season, one of which happened against the Boston Celtics who played as one of the NBA’s hottest teams to start the year:
From there, Ginobili never played like a star or took over a main role, but he did 1.3 more minutes per game than the 2016-17 season, potentially due to Kawhi Leonard’s absence. This featured some turn-back-the-clock performances, including 21 points against the Phoenix Suns and 26 against the Portland Trail Blazers in back-to-back games over three nights.
The postseason was another story, as Ginobili played heavy minutes in Game 2, 4 and 5, with a 16-point outing in Game 4 that saved San Antonio from elimination (only to lose to the Golden State Warriors in Game 5). This clutch showing became the highlight of his season.
The 2018 offseason brings another unknown for Ginobili, who has not announced if he will play next season. If so, it would pay him $2.5 million and potentially be the end at age 41. Let’s see what the decision becomes this summer.