On this Chirstmas Day, two of the NBA’s most coveted 2010 free agents are being showcased on national TV. Dwyane Wade is on the tube as we speak playing the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, which coincidently could be one of his most appealing options come July 1st. The other superstar ’10 free agent, LeBron James, is in sunny California about to take on Kobe and the Lakers later on today.
On top of the big two, there are several names that have been attracting a lot talk when it comes down to this summer: Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer. One upcoming free agent that is surprisingly not garnered much attention is San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili.
None of the media outlets have talked about the Spurs reserve in regards to signing with one of the team’s with deep pockets this summer like the Bulls, Heat, Knicks, Nets and Timberwolves. Granted, Ginobili is 32 years old, injury prone and having a sub-par season. His stats are his worst since his rookie year: 12.7 ppg, 3.6 apg, 2.9 rpg while shooting a career-low 38 percent from the field. But he’s still a multi-dimentional player that could still be a game-changer and go-to guy down the stretch when he’s healthy.
Manu is obviously not on the same tier as the other guys and won’t be offered a long-term, big money deal. But he’s an All-Star caliber player a team could potentially get at a cheaper rate (in the $6 million to $8 million range). And in this economy, that could be huge. Ginobili is earning around $10 million and I could see him dropping that price tag if gets a 3-year deal and signs with a team that could be a contender.
A lot of people might assume that the Spurs will keep Ginobili, but if they really wanted to, they would be aggresive with extending his contract. Plus, Manu might want a change of scenery. He’s been with the same team ever since he entered the league seven seasons ago. Who’s to say he wouldn’t be open to playing in a vibrant, international city like Miami, New York or the foreign-player friendly Toronto.
I think when push comes to shove, teams will step up to the plate for Manu. He’s a talented, experienced player who’s a proven winner. He could be the missing piece for a championship contending team or a nice complimentary player beside Wade, James or Bosh.