9:43am: In his full story on Ginobili’s decision, Charania writes that the veteran Spur is leaning toward re-signing with San Antonio for at least one more season.
9:33am: Veteran guard Manu Ginobili is the latest player to decline a player option for 2016/17, opting not to pick up his $2.94MM option for next season, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link). ESPN’s Marc Stein first reported (via Twitter) that Ginobili was expected to head to free agency, as he continues to weigh his options.
While Ginobili will become a free agent, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll leave San Antonio, or even that he’ll continue his NBA career. Ginobili and the Spurs may ultimately work out a deal that allows him to return for another season, but it doesn’t sound like the 38-year-old has made a decision yet on whether to keep playing or retire.
The longtime Spur did show signs of slowing down in 2015/16, his 14th season in San Antonio. He played fewer than 20 minutes per game for the first time in his NBA career, and scored just 9.6 points per contest, his lowest mark since his rookie year. Still, while Ginobili’s role has been reduced, he continued to be reasonably effective when he did play — his 2015/16 shooting percentages (.453 FG%, .391 3PT%) were slightly better than his career averages.
The Spurs are expected to make a run at Kevin Durant this summer, and could take a look at some other top-tier free agents, but the looming decisions for Ginobili and Tim Duncan, who also has a player option for 2016/17, may have an impact on their offseason approach. Assuming both players want to continue their careers, it’s hard to imagine the Spurs not welcoming them back.