NBA AM: Ginobili Talks Retirement
While the San Antonio Spurs compiled a 61-21 record last season, good for second best in the league, the squad suffered a completely demoralizing first round playoff elimination at the hands of the upstart Memphis Grizzlies.
It marked the second time in the past three seasons the Spurs have been unable to advance past the opening round of the postseason, representing a steep fall from grace for a team expected to be in the thick of title contention annually.
Many around the league already view the Spurs’ championship window as either fully shut or closing rapidly as the Hall of Fame bound Tim Duncan’s once dominant skills continue to erode.
Well, add another peg to the wheel of urgency if San Antonio expects to compete amongst the league’s elite over the next few seasons.
In an interview with an Argentinian based website, two-time All-Star Manu Ginobili kept open the possibility of playing after his contract ends in two years but also admitted time wasn’t on his side long-term.
“The truth is that I have set the date of my retirement, but I have two years left on this contract in San Antonio, and I will reach age 36. I think it may be an appropriate age to stop playing,” Ginobili stated.
Ginobili will turn 34 later this month and has been an integral part of the Spurs’ success since joining the club in 2003.
San Antonio has recorded at least 50 wins in each season since his arrival and have captured three championships along the way.
Ginobili, the 2008 Sixth Man of the Year, also closed the door somewhat on returning to play in his home country once his NBA days were finished.
“I never had the desire to play in the country and retire at home. I always thought about retiring at the highest level,” Ginobili stated.
An extended lockout would undoubtedly help veteran clubs with aging players such as San Antonio and Boston if it were to cut into a portion of next season’s schedule.
For the Spurs with two of their big three stars nearing the end of their careers, making another championship run would have to be considered now or never.
NBA Lays Off 114 Employees: The league has routinely maintained that it is losing up to $300 million annually as the economy declines and expenses mount.
Those alleged losses are the leading driver in the current lockout.
Yesterday the league took a cost cutting measure to alleviate some of the financial burden deteriorating their bottom line by issuing layoffs to reduce eleven percent of its work force – or 114 employees.
The cuts were made across all divisions, such as information technology, marketing and community relations. Impacted employees were primarily staffed in the league’s New Jersey or New York offices.
However the league is claiming the massive staff layoffs have nothing to do with the current lockout, but are more aligned to an increased overhead driving an unfavorably rising expense ratio.
“The layoffs are not a direct result of the lockout but rather a response to the same underlying issue — that is, the league’s expenses far outpace our revenues,” the NBA spokesman Mike Bass said regarding the staff cuts announcement.
In a company memo obtained by the New York Times, Adam Silver, the NBA’s deputy commissioner, called the layoffs “part of our larger efforts to restructure our operations and create a long-term sustainable business that is well-positioned for future growth.”
The league has been going through an all-encompassing restructuring effort since the economic collapse of 2008, which has included turning over digital operations to Turner Broadcasting and consolidating its international office presence.
Since 2008 the league has eliminated over 250 positions in strategic cost cutting initiatives aimed to reduce expenses.
Currently, there are no plans to rehire the terminated staff.
Scott Has No Plans To Change Approach In Cleveland: The Cavaliers finished the 2011 season with the second worst record in the league, compiling a 19-63 mark in their first season without departed star LeBron James.
So typically coming off a season with disastrous results changes would be expected right?
Not according to head coach Byron Scott, at least in terms of his management of the team on the court.
“I go in with a different perspective as far as there are certain things that we are going to try to do better, there are certain things that I think we need to continue to work on,” Scott told Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. “But as far as my approach, it’s the same. I’m going to still be very demanding. I’m going to be hard in training camp. I expect these guys to come in shape and be ready to play. They have to understand the defensive end is where we have to get it done, which we didn’t do a real good job of last season, so that’ll be more of an emphasis than anything. But my approach to the game is always going to be the same.”
Scott may not be changing his philosophies but there are changes a plenty transpiring in Cleveland.
For starters, the club drafted point guard Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 overall pick in last month’s draft in which the franchise hopes eventually yields a franchise player to build around.
The Cavs also selected talented forward Tristan Thompson with the No. 4 overall pick and sent former first round selection J.J. Hickson to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Omri Casspi.
Team general manager Chris Wallace also expects a change, a fresher perspective, whenever the 2012 season begins and believes Scott is the guy to help facilitate those adjustments.
“All teams change year to year so you do take on a different persona and personality in terms of the roster,” Grant said. “He’s [Scott] done a great job in the past. Even last year, through all that we went through, I thought he just maintained great leadership and was unwavering in the face of adversity. Because of that, we got through a very tough year and ended on a high note, which is amazing, pretty amazing in itself.”
The Cavs aren’t expected to be anywhere close to playoff contention for the next few seasons, but now at least boast a clearer direction to follow after suffering through a tumultuous 2011 campaign.