Latest On Spurs, Duncan, Ginobili, Leonard

TUESDAY, 1:30pm: The Spurs haven’t received any indication about what Duncan and Ginobili plan to do, and the prevailing belief within the organization remains that Duncan will likely decide to play again and that Ginobili is leaning toward hanging it up, reports Ken Berger of San Antonio’s plan is to quickly reach a five-year max deal with Leonard, which shouldn’t be a problem, a source tells Berger, and then let him join Duncan in recruitment of Aldridge. Of course, San Antonio probably wouldn’t officially re-sign Leonard before signing a marquee free agent from another team, since Leonard’s cap hold, much smaller than a max salary, affords the Spurs greater flexibility. In any case, Berger largely seconds a report from Marc Stein of that the Spurs will first go after Aldridge, who’s seen as more obtainable, before pursuing Gasol.

MONDAY, 3:43pm: All indications are that the Spurs are planning for Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili to return for next season, Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher says (video link). Team officials haven’t formally met with the pair of mainstays to discuss their intentions for next season, and they won’t do so for another couple of weeks, Bucher cautions. It remains to be seen just how much either of them would demand on a new deal, since San Antonio’s contracts with both expire June 30th. Still, the Spurs continue to plan to pursue a marquee free agent from another team, an enterprise that would require Duncan and Ginobili to take deeply discounted deals, barring salary-clearing trades, as I examined when I looked at the offseason ahead for San Antonio.

The Spurs are reportedly expected to make a pitch to LaMarcus Aldridge before doing the same to Marc Gasol, given that Aldridge appears to be the more readily obtainable of the two, as Marc Stein of reported today. Bucher suggests that the team will target Brook Lopez, too, though it’s not entirely clear whether or not that’s merely Bucher’s speculation. Lopez has a player option for next season and appears likely to opt out but re-sign with the Nets.

Ginobili, who turns 38 in July, said recently that he’d take the rest of May to make up his mind about returning, and he indicated that Duncan’s decision would have a heavy influence on his. Duncan, whose 39th birthday passed last month, offered little insight into his thinking in the wake of San Antonio’s playoff ouster a few weeks ago. Duncan remains productive, having posted the same 22.6 PER this season as he did as a rookie, while Ginobili’s mark in that category this year, 16.2, is even better than the one he put up in his first NBA season.

San Antonio only has about $34.2MM in salary committed for next season against a projected $67.1MM salary cap, but that doesn’t include a cap hold of more than $7.2MM for soon-to-be restricted free agent Kawhi Leonard. A max salary for Aldridge, Gasol or Lopez would check in at around an estimated $19MM next season. Only five Spurs have guaranteed contracts for next season, so building a team around a maximum-salary acquisition would take some financial gymnastics.

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