NBA AM: Extending Manu Ginobili?
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
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The San Antonio Spurs never make their business, especially when it comes to contract extensions, public. Everything they do is in a quiet manner, to so much of an extent that most of their transactions come almost as a surprise because there was no talk of them publically prior.
In 2010 they extended both Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili in inconspicuous fashion. Parker still has two years left on his deal, but Ginobili’s expires at season’s end. At 35 years of age, retirement could be on the horizon for Ginobili, but he clearly stated at media day that he has no desire to leave the team and that there’s only a five percent chance he’d play elsewhere.
“I don’t care if it’s for a lot of money, a huge amount of money, I don’t care,” Ginobili said to HOOPSWORLD. “I’m fine with what I’ve earned in my career. This is not a point of emphasis this year. I just want to play well and help my take make it as far as last year.
“If I’m going to play next year, it’s highly likely it’s going to be here. So, I really don’t care.”
Behind the scenes the Spurs are undoubtedly weighing the pros and cons of trying extending Ginobili, which they can do up until June 30, or letting him become a free agent.
Ginobili, drafted 58th overall in 1999 by the Spurs, has been an intricate part of three championship runs in San Antonio. He’s still one of the most difficult covers in the league and quite capable despite being in the latter stages of his career. The only real concern they have about him is health. He missed 32 games last year, during which the Spurs never missed a beat. In the two previous seasons combined, though, he played in all but seven regular season contests.
Like Tim Duncan, a self-proclaimed awful negotiator who didn’t entertain offers from any other team this offseason, the Spurs have the leverage with Ginobili and know they’re going to get him at a cheaper rate than the $14.1 million he’s set to make this season. What it really comes down to is how long of a commitment they want to make to him, because the per-season dollar figure will be a fair representation of how they value him. While they have all the leverage and want to pay him less, they respect him too much to go too far below market value.
Don’t be surprised if in typical Spurs’ fashion this season they suddenly announce that they’ve come to an agreement on an extension with Ginobili. His play last year and in the Olympics this summer showed that he clearly has plenty left in the tank, and they have youth on the perimeter now in Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green that allows them to reduce his workload to a reasonable rate. The mutual interest from both sides should be enough to avoid pushing off the inevitable until the summer.
Howard Brushes Off Shaq: Future Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal has gone out of his way on numerous occasions to criticize Dwight Howard, who has taken his mantle as the league’s best big man, since they butted heads over the Superman moniker and identity. Beforehand they were cordial.
Things have only grown more tumultuous between them since Howard was traded to the Lakers, the team that will retire O’Neal’s jersey in April, this summer. O’Neal made headlines by saying he doesn’t care and that Howard will have to win at least three titles to get people’s respect.
He recently took things a step further by anointing Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez, who he referred to as his brother Robin at first, and Philadelphia 76ers Andrew Bynum as the best centers in the game. He pointed to their back-to-the-basket game as his main reason, seemingly discarding Howard’s elite-level defensive abilities from the decision making process.
Of course, Howard was asked for a response.
“I don’t care what Shaq says,” Howard said after practice Thursday. “Shaq played the game. He’s done. He’s gone. It’s time to move on.
“He hated the fact when he played that the older guys were talking about him and how he played and now he’s doing the exact same thing. Just let it go. There’s no sense for him to be talking trash to me. He did his thing in the league. He’s one of the most dominant players to ever play the game. Just sit back and relax. You did your thing. Your time is up. So, I don’t really care. He can say whatever he wants to say.
“I have respect for him and what he did for basketball. That’s it. Like I said, he’s already did his thing. He played. When my time is up, there’s going to be somebody else who can do everything I can do, and probably do it better. Instead of me talking about him, I’ll do my job to try to help him to get to where I’m at. I think that’s what guys who have done it before us should do.”
Understandably puzzled, Howard handled this about as well as he could all things considered. The less he tries to go back and forth with the player he is going to be compared to regularly the rest of his career, the better.
If anything, he should turn this into motivation. Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, Shaq’s running mate for three-straight championships, will almost undoubtedly use this as fuel to fire up Howard as they get prepared to make a championship run this season.
At one point before the trade Bryant and Howard also had a rocky relationship. But, trying to quiet O’Neal gives them another common thing to bond over along with their desire to bring another Larry O’Brien trophy to the Lakers.
Barnes Career Comes Full Circle: 10 years ago Matt Barnes received his first 10-day contract from the Los Angeles Clippers. Now he’s back with the team on a guaranteed deal, but that’s not the only thing that has changed.
“This is a lot different team and organization than when I was first here,” Barnes said to HOOPSWORLD. “We’re a very deep and talented team. It’s going to be fun to put this all together.
“I think this is arguably one of the deepest teams in the game. If we can stay healthy I think we have just as good of a shot as anybody.”
Barnes has bounced around the NBA, playing with eight different teams in 10 years. He was worried this offseason, though, that his career may be coming to an end.
“Yeah,” Barnes said when asked if he thought he’d go unsigned. “I went through some stuff this summer legally that just got handled the other day. It was a mess and a joke really with everything out there that I was drunk and this and that, but none of it was true. But perception is everything really, so I had to really sit back and not say anything because of legal terms. Luckily the Clippers took a chance and I’m here.”
Over the past two years Barnes has been with the Los Angeles Lakers. While he remains friends with his former teammates, he can’t wait to go head-to-head with them again.
“I wouldn’t say it will be strange,” Barnes said. “I think it’s going to be fun. I’m a competitor. I’m looking forward to having the chance to guard Kobe (Bryant) for real again, instead of in practice and being with him. I wish those guys nothing but the best but I’m very excited to be here.”
Barnes was hit by the injury bug prior to the playoffs last season, but he quickly recovered this offseason.
“I feel great,” Barnes said. “This is my second year of having a good knee. I’m back running and jumping, have a new weight program, did MMA all summer, my body is different. I’m beyond excited about getting this season started.
“(I’m looking to just bring) defense, rebounding and energy. I worked a lot on my shot. I’m excited to be a part of an organization that’s headed in the upward direction.”
Kentucky Lands The Harrison Twins: Year in and year out Kentucky head coach John Calipari puts together dynamic recruiting classes that make 99 percent of the rest of the coaches in the country full of envy. Coming off of his first national championship, Calipari has restored the Wildcats’ rich tradition. Along with being in the championship mix every season since he was hired in the summer of 2009, Kentucky has also produced more NBA Draft picks than any other program over the last three years.
Going into the 2012-13 season he’s reloaded and ready to contend again after losing his top his top six players to the 2012 NBA Draft. And, you can bet they’ll be ready to go again in 2013-2014 no matter how many players they lose to the 2013 draft after the commitments he landed on Thursday.
Aaron and Andrew Harrison, twin brothers who rank as top-10 recruits with just about every scouting service, put an end to their recruitment by committing to Kentucky yesterday. They were also considering Maryland and Southern Methodist University.
The Harrison twins are both 6’5 guards with Andrew running the point and Aaron off the ball at shooting guard. They’re tough, tenacious and fiery competitors who will likely start immediately and thrive in Calipari’s dribble-drive offense. They join power forward Derek Williams in Cal’s 2013 class, which will only get more potent.
The other top players in the country, especially big men, are going to want to play with the Harrison twins. Kentucky, who now has the stature and ability to go after whoever they want thanks to Coach Cal, is also high on the list of top big men Julius Randle, Jabari Parker, Marcus Lee and Kennedy Meeks. James Young, the top uncommitted guard now that the Harrison Twins are off the board, is also strongly considering Kentucky.
Andrew Wiggins, the top prospect in the 2014 class, is the wildcard to keep an eye on. All rumors have him leaning towards reclassifying to the 2013 class. He’s on track academically to do so if he desires. The combination of Wiggins, the Harrison Twins and any two of the big men listed above could end up being Calipari’s best recruiting class ever.
However, at the rate he’s at, they may not hold that title for long since Coach Cal is the kingpin of college basketball right now with no change in site.
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