It’s the same thing almost every summer for the past five seasons: The San Antonio Spurs waiting on Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili to tell them whether they’re retiring or not.
So, what is it going to be? After winning a fifth (Duncan) and fourth (Ginobili) title, is the fire out? It might have more to do with their bodies than the fire inside, and if that’s the deciding factor, Duncan is closer to staying, while Ginobili is closer to calling it quits, like he was two years ago after the 2013 NBA Finals which the Spurs lost to the Heat.
One hint, besides his ability, regarding Duncan staying, is his upcoming trial against his former financial adviser. Duncan’s lawyers requested to set a date for next summer, which means Duncan just might want to give it another go in the NBA, playing in his 19th season, maybe trying to give it another run at the title. Despite his age (turned 39 last April), he averaged 13.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per game in 28.9 minutes a night. Far from being a fringe, edge-of-the-bench player like most players are when they reach that age and stay in the league.
Ginobili is a different matter. He has been dealing with injuries constantly for almost every season in the last few years, and his ability is declining as his minutes and overall game count are. He did play in 70 games last season but his minute count remains around the 22-23 and fell to even 18.7 during the postseason. He is still exceptional on some nights, but it’s harder and harder for him to tap that quality on a regular basis.
In his interviews to foreign media outlets, mostly in Argentina, he’s been cited more than once mentioning how difficult it’s getting for him to play in such a long season and the pain he’s feeling in his body. If that’s any indication towards anything, it’s safe to say Ginobili is a lot closer to retiring than Duncan is. If the Spurs had to choose between the two, the choice is obvious, although it’s difficult to find someone who can contribute like Ginobili off the bench.