Manu Ginobili: To Re-sign Or Not To Re-sign?

This is a 2-Part series on whether the Spurs re-sign Manu Ginobili at the end of the upcoming Spurs season.  The following is Part 1.  Note, as of the writing of this post, there has been no contract renegotiation talks between the Spurs and Manu.

Manu Ginobili will go down in Spurs history as one of the greatest ever to wear a Spurs uniform.  Since he was drafted until recently he has provided the Spurs clutch shooting, a winning attitude and toughness on the court.  All this helped the Spurs win 3 of their 4 NBA titles.  However as many Spurs fans know, this is his last contract year with the Spurs and will be part of the huge 2010 free agent class.  Which leaves this one question: Do the Spurs resign him?  Answer: No.  Why?  Health Concerns.

After the 2007 NBA Championship, I been on record saying the Spurs should have traded him.  His value was at an all-time high but his “shelf-life” was already diminishing.  He plays with a reckless abandonment and gets punished driving to the lane or by perimeter defenders — see Raja Bell and Jerry Stackhouse.  All this has taken a toll on him and add to the mix he has been playing pro-basketball even before joining the Spurs in 2002, playing with Italy, Argentina and playing in the Olympics.

It’s not uncommon for Spurs fans and players to mention the teams goes as long as Manu goes.  The excuse of an unhealthy Manu has been said in past playoff performances when the Spurs were bounced out of the playoffs in 2008 against the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals and this past season in the opening round against the Mavericks.  Are the Spurs so dependant on Manu that a team with two other All-Stars, Parker and Duncan, can’t shoulder the load and push the Spurs to a victory?  Apparently not and if true, then if Manu continues to get hurt then the Spurs won’t go far in the playoffs without him.  This year was a prime example of this.  As the Spurs 6th Man, the Spurs lost a huge spark off the bench.  With no offense or defense coming from him the Spurs got knocked out of the playoffs in 5 games to Dallas.

The ankle that kept him out of most of last season should be a huge concern for Spurs fans.  It wasn’t a good decision he decided to play for Argentina in the Beijing Olympics and Spurs fans know what happened to him.  The ankle injury required off-season surgery casuing him to play 44 games of the 2008-2009 Spurs season and he missed the entire 2009 NBA playoffs due to his troubled right ankle.  This wasn’t the first time he had health issues.  In the 2005-2006 NBA season he was injury plagued with foot and ankle problems, playing in 65 regular season games but did come back to play in the playoffs.

How reliable is Manu nowadays for the Spurs?  Is his health situation going to be a reoccurring issue?  Can he play a full season and playoffs healthy going forward?  For me it is too much of a risk to resign him.

And it’s not just me, the Spurs organization have halted contract renegotations with Manu when he decided to play in Beijing and subsequently got injured.  Even his own agent, Herb Rudoy, says contract renegotiation has been put on hold to see how Manu’s ankle recovers.  Also, we saw the Spurs go after Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson right before the trade deadline last season which made Spurs fans ponder whether Manu’s injury was bigger than the Spurs were admitting.

Please know it’s not because I do not recognize what Manu has brought to the franchise.  I feel he deserves to have his jersey retired and be mentioned among the Spurs greatest.  But his health issues makes it tougher to resign him to a long contract when that money can be used to find a younger player.

I would suggest the Spurs do sign and trade him to get something in return but what team will want an “old” and fragile Manu?  Do the Spurs let him “walk” at the end of the upcoming season if no sign and trade can be managed or no contract extension made?  Yes.  This is the worse case scenario, especially if he goes to a Western Conference team but in the long term getting a younger, healthier player might be best.

So here we are, Manu had a long time to recover and rest this off-season but no word on whether the Spurs are going to re-sign him or extend his contract.  He will have to show he is fully healthy and ready to go during training camp, pre-season and in the beginning of the upcoming season.  If not then the Spurs should not re-sign him.

Come back tomorrow and read part 2 on why the Spurs should re-sign Manu.

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