Spurs free agent news on Thursday centered on two of the team’s most popular players.
It was both good and bad.
Manu Ginobili, one of the most popular players in franchise history, announced via Twitter that he will be returning to the Spurs next season. Fan favorite center Boban Marjanovic will leave the Spurs and join the Detroit Pistons.
The loss of Marjanovic will be mitigated by the addition of 7-foot free agent center Dewayne Dedmon, who has agreed to a two-year deal with the Spurs for a reported $6.6 million. Dedmon played last season for the Orlando Magic.
Ginobili, a 38-year-old veteran of 13 Spurs seasons, on Sunday had announced in his personal blog that he had decided to continue with his NBA career but did not specify that it would be with the Spurs.
On Thursday he ended any speculation he might sign elsewhere.
“Happy to tell you guys I will be coming back to the Spurs for another season,” he posted on his Twitter account.
Reached by text message in Manila, where he helped France advance to the semifinals of a FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Thursday, Spurs point guard Tony Parker responded to Ginobili’s announcement: “That is great news! Very happy.”
Ginobili’s new deal will be for considerably more than the $2.9 million he was to have received in the second year of the two-year contract he signed last July. He opted out of that deal on June 22.
“Manu had a very significant offer from another team,” said Herb Rudoy, who has represented Ginobili throughout his entire career with the Spurs. “However, my orders were to get a deal done with the Spurs and that’s what I am now working on. We’re getting very close to completion but I think it is going to take a while longer.”
Because the Spurs retain Ginobili’s “Larry Bird” rights they can pay him any amount above the league’s salary cap figure, up to the league maximum. For that reason, his official signing likely will be delayed until other player personnel transactions are completed. The most important of those transactions is the trade that will send veteran forward Boris Diaw, and his $7 million salary for the 2016-17 season, to the Utah Jazz in exchange for the rights to Utah’s 2015 second-round draft pick Olivier Hanlan.
The news on fan favorite Marjanovic was not what Spurs fans wanted to get. The 7-foot-3 Serbian had endeared himself to the team’s followers with solid play, an engaging personality, and the longest wing span and biggest hands in franchise history.
A restricted free agent, Marjanovic signed a three-year, $21 million offer sheet with the Detroit Pistons. NBA rules give the Spurs three days to match Detroit’s offer, dollar for dollar, but a league source familiar with the Spurs plans indicated they won’t match.
Dedmon figures to step into the backup role Marjanovic had played. A 26-year-old who was undrafted after playing collegiately for the Southern California Trojans, he has played for the Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic over three NBA seasons. He played in 58 games for the Magic last season and started 20 games. He averaged 4.4 points per game, 3.6 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in an average of just 12.2 minutes per game. He had a solid Player Efficiency Rating of 17.0 last season.
Top image: Spurs Forward Manu Ginobili speaks to reporters during practice on April 27, 2016. Photo by Scott Ball.