San Antonio Spurs: If Manu Ginobili retires, what’s next?
By Rob Wolkenbrod
If Manu Ginobili does not return to the San Antonio Spurs for the 2018-19 season, what happens next?
The San Antonio Spurs do not have an answer from Manu Ginobili on his status for the 2018-19 season, despite the dropped-hint on an announcement, that’s set to happen sometime soon. If he comes back, it will be his 17th season at age 41.
What if Ginobili does not return, though? Given his age and longevity in the NBA, he can still opt to call it a career and walk into the Spurs Hall of Fame and become a candidate for the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame. That means implications for the 2018-19 roster.
No Ginobili takes away the last member of the “Big 3,” also including Tim Duncan and Tony Parker; the veteran group that held down the Spurs for almost two decades, resulting in multiple championships from 2003-2014.
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LaMarcus Aldridge and Patty Mills would become the next veterans up on San Antonio’s roster, even though neither holds the decade-plus of experience for this organization; that’s difficult to find anywhere, so the Spurs may have lucked out in this regard.
No Ginobili of course opens playing time for the younger guards. Lonnie Walker and Derrick White may both receive extended runs this season, especially for the former, who spent most of 2017-18 in the G League.
There’s a cluster of guards behind DeMar DeRozan, the expected starter at shooting guard. With only so much playing time to go around, as Marco Belinelli and Bryn Forbes also sit on the roster, Ginobili’s departure paves the way for time for the youngsters in a transition season for the Silver and Black.
The Spurs already have an open roster spot, so Ginobili would make it two, dropping the count to 13. Draft rights remain to more than a handful of players, one of which recently worked out in San Antonio. Will that mean anything towards one or more spots on the Opening Night squad?
What about free agents? Unsigned veterans remain on the open market, featuring Jamal Crawford and Corey Brewer. There’s also Nick “Swaggy P” Young, but could anyone imagine that fit with Gregg Popovich?
Ginobili’s departure would change San Antonio’s outlook less than two months before the season starts. There’s the chance he stays, but with a pro basketball career that spans since 1999, might this be the end?