Did Manu Ginobili Just Play His Last Game as a San Antonio Spur?

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2013

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 20:  Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs drives on Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat in the fourth quarter during Game Seven of the 2013 NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena on June 20, 2013 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Manu Ginobili's final three games of the NBA Finals were exemplary of what he was capable of this season, but will they be the last three games we see of him with the San Antonio Spurs?

Game 5 was Ginobili's swan song, leading the Spurs to a 10-point win over the Miami Heat with his first 20-point, 10-assist game since 2010.

He was marvelous as the home crowd showered him with love after he willed the Spurs to a win—which he has seemed to do in every NBA Finals since he came into the league.

Move two days down the road, flip a coin, and Ginobili came up all tails in Game 6.

With nine points masked behind eight turnovers, he failed to get a foul call on a final drive to the rim that could have given the Spurs a chance in overtime, and San Antonio fell.

Game 7 was one of those games from Ginobili where the real story was hidden behind solid stats.

He really did have a good game—18 points on 50 percent shooting—but three turnovers in the final seven minutes, along with the three-pointer that he chucked with 18 seconds left, killed San Antonio's flow, and that was that. 

Miami won, San Antonio lost and Ginobili's fate was tossed up in the air.

Following the series, Ginobili was asked whether he planned to retire. At the moment, he's still not sure on that front:

"It's not the moment. I'm very disappointed. Very upset. I really can't say anything."

With a finals loss, San Antonio is forced to go back to the drawing board—only they don't have a full-on revamp to go through.

Tim Duncan is still very much a viable player for another year or two, Tony Parker is still in his prime and Kawhi Leonard has suddenly become the third member of San Antonio's "Big Three."

Danny Green and Gary Neal give them options off the bench, Boris Diaw is a solid third big man and cap space seems to be an interesting option rather than keeping on Ginobili.

There's a new reality with Ginobili, and it's impossible to ignore: He wasn't just dealing with injuries this year; he is going to continue dealing with injuries throughout his career unless his minutes are drastically reduced.

His 11.8 points per game is his second-worst average of his career, and the 42.5 percent rate from the field was also the second worst.

Approaching 36 years old (on July 28), is there anything left to get from Ginobili that the Spurs can't find from somebody else?

Ginobili was the Spurs' highest-paid player this season, and his contract comes off the books on July 1. After Boris Diaw likely picks up his $4.7 million option, the team has to decide what to do with Tiago Splitter, who becomes a restricted free agent.

Leaving Splitter and Ginobili out of next season's plans gives San Antonio $41 million on the books, or somewhere around $16 million in cap space.

As crazy as it sounds, the team that came within 28 seconds of winning the NBA championship could sign one or two marquee free agents if it so desires.

Obviously, Ginobili coming back would mean a steep decline in salary, and San Antonio would likely jump on the chance to pay him $5 million for the next season or two (as opposed to $14 million this year).

Mo Williams, Jarrett Jack or Jose Calderon are options to come in and back up Parker. O.J. Mayo could become Manu Ginobili 2.0, and Andrei Kirilenko could opt out and give the Spurs the option for a huge lineup—or they might just plan for life after Duncan with Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson.

Beyond that, Davis Bertans may be joining the squad next year, as could any number of the players they still have stashed in Europe.

With that many lucrative options open, it could almost be construed as wasting a roster spot on Ginobili if he doesn't bounce back next season.

Barring retirement, however, Ginobili seems destined to come back for at least another season, this time at a drastic discount.