NBA Roundtable

Manu Ginobili + 2010 Free Agency

In Free Agency, General NBA on March 11, 2010 at 2:45 pm

An article from a few days ago — link

Can anyone in South Texas see him in another uniform?

Two summers ago, the Spurs couldn’t. There were talks aimed at extending the contract he signed in the summer of 2004, when he was a restricted free agent and Denver made a hard sell the Spurs trumped.

The article continues

“The last 21/2 weeks, Manu’s had his lift and quickness,” says coach Gregg Popovich, whose opinion as president of basketball operations is vital to the process. “He’s making better decisions because his rhythm is back. He feels more confident in his shot.”

Ginobili plays only to win but is not naive to the effect his renewal has.

“Maybe I do (have more leverage),” he said. “I think I’ve showed everybody I’m still healthy and can still play.”

General manager R.C. Buford talks regularly with Ginobili’s agent, but the Spurs have not told Herb Rudoy they want to pre-empt free agency.

“I don’t think they’ve felt any rush to do this because they have exclusive rights until July 1, so they’ve felt no pressure,” Rudoy said.

But the window is closing fast. Ginobili will listen if the Spurs want to talk extension, but only before season’s end.

“Of course, it will depend on the amount and the years,” he said.

If the Spurs’ final game ends without agreement, Ginobili will test the market in July. What should frighten the Spurs about that prospect is the number of teams that have created room under the NBA’s salary cap to make runs at big-name free agents this summer.

“You’ve got all these teams with all this money, and only one can sign LeBron (James),” Rudoy said. “His heart is really in San Antonio, but the onus is not on me, it’s on the other side of the table to want to discuss this. I’d be surprised if they let him go to free agency, but it’s their decision.”

Quick Description

Manu Ginobili will be 33 years old this summer and has had several injuries over the past few seasons.

Still incredibly effective but doesn’t get the credit he deserves for how effective he has been this season. That could change if Ginobili keeps up his recent form.

Top 2010 Free Agents

In order to get some understanding of where Manu ranks in the order of things ….

First Tier — LeBron James + Dwyane Wade + Chris Bosh + Joe Johnson

Second Tier — Rudy Gay + Amare Stoudemire + David Lee + Carlos Boozer

Third Tier — Manu Ginobili + Brendan Haywood + Marcus Camby + Luis Scola + Ray Allen + Mike Miller

Fourth Tier — Tyrus Thomas + Ronnie Brewer + Tracy McGrady + Raymond Felton + Kyle Lowry + Travis Outlaw + Anthony Morrow

Teams With Cap Space

Teams Below the Cap

New York + New Jersey + Chicago + Miami + LA Clippers + Minnesota + Sacramento + Oklahoma

How many of those teams would be interested in a 33 year old oft injured shooting guard looking for his last big payday?

None of the young + rebuilding teams would be interested. That wipes out Sacramento, Minnesota, Oklahoma and New Jersey.

The LA Clippers already have their shooting guard of the future in Eric Gordon so they are unlikely to be interested too.

That leaves three teams — New York + Chicago + Miami

How much interest is Ginobili likely to generate from those clubs?

Let’s go back to our tiers of free agency. All three of those teams are going to begin by targeting the four players in the first tier. If they strike out with those players they will then move onto the second tier. If they strike out again with those four players then they’ll consider the third and fourth tiers.

So, that leaves eight players and three teams beneath the cap.

That would make Ginobili, at best, the ninth choice target.

Continuing …

At the point where these clubs strike out on their top four or five targets, their backup plan will be to split their cap space amongst two high quality free agents.

So, Chicago for example, would want to split their $17 million amongst two players. So they’ll offer $10 million to a player like David Lee and $7 million to another player, likely a two guard such as Manu Ginobili.

Another note: There would be another 2-4 teams (Clippers, Nets, Kings, Wolves) competing for those eight players also. So, while Ginobili would start off as the 9th choice for the three teams that have interest in him … he could easily move up the food chain very quickly once the FAs in front of him decide on where they want to be.

Ball-parking likely contract demands

The first tier players + Amare Stoudemire are likely to command $15+ million per annum.

Rudy Gay and Carlos Boozer will command $10+ million and there is a fair chance they’ll command $12+ million.

David Lee will command $8-11 million. Brendan Haywood has likely played himself into the $8 million category and this is what Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola are likely to look for also.

Those three teams

Chicago — three young players who compromise the core of their club in Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. Their first choice backup plan to missing out on the first tier free agents will be to acquire a talented power forward. If that falls through, they will then consider adding Ginobili.

New York — NY will likely keep it’s cap space if they strike out so badly that Ginobili moves to the top of the list. Luckily for Manu, that is not a likely option and the other fall back option for NY involves him. That has NY signing one max contract free agent + re-signing David Lee (also works with other players in his price range but Lee will be the first choice here) + signing another talented player with the remaining money (Ginobili).

Miami — it’s unclear whether Miami would have any interest in adding Ginobili considering D-Wade is on their roster. Actually, I don’t think they’ll have any interest in pursuing this option so let’s cross Miami off the list.

Just a final note on Miami, I think a backcourt combination of Ginobili + Wade would be mesmerizing. Best in the league by a large margin. I do not expect Miami to try and do that though. They should but I don’t think they will.

$8 million versus MLE

A five year MLE offer will total $33 million.

A four year flat $8 million per annum offer only amounts to $32 million.

Whatever team tries to sign Manu will have to offer at least four years or else Ginobili will be willing to sign an MLE deal instead, or, they will have to offer closer to $10 million for a three year deal.

San Antonio vs MLE

I can see the Spurs letting Ginobili leave this summer if he gets a large contract offer from somewhere else but I cannot see them letting Ginobili leave if it’s an MLE deal.

So, the only way I think Manu leaves the Spurs is if he signs a contract with a team below the cap + any team hoping to pry Ginobili away on an MLE deal is likely to be disappointed.

That brings us back to our two/three teams + ninth choice target situation.

Final words …

Free agency could play out in dozens of different ways so it’s not worth looking into this any further …

I will just say that I think the odds of Manu Ginobili getting a large contract offer elsewhere are relatively small (5-10% — mostly NY and not Chicago) and consequently I think the chances of Manu leaving the Spurs are very small.

And finally, Manu Ginobili’s agent is wrong when talking about all the options his client will have in free agency due to all of the team’s that are below the cap and looking to spend money. They are not looking for a 33 year old oft injured shooting guard. His options will be limited.

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