What does the future hold for Manu Ginobili?

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Thumbnail image for ginobili_game.jpgOf all the relevant names involved in FREE AGENT FRENZY 2010, Manu Ginobili’s hardly gets the play it deserves. He’s a former All-Star, a two-time champion, and has posted six straight seasons with a PER of 22 or better (including this one, which is supposedly a down year). He’s 32 years old, and that can’t be ignored. But we’ve seen him swat bats and Durants, and make plenty of big plays.

There was a time where Ginobili had a legitimate claim as the second best shooting guard in the league and those days are gone. That doesn’t make him irrelevant, though, and neither shoot the rather substantial shadow cast by LeBron, Wade, and Bosh.

Ginobili’s impending free agency does bring his future with the Spurs into question, though, particularly due to the team’s reluctance to sign him to an extension. Manu has been absolutely pivotal for the franchise over the years, but the time may be coming where it makes sense for Ginobili and the Spurs to part ways. That’s a shame.

Not quite as much of a shame as this report from SLAM Online, though:

Marca journalist Ramon Trecet confirmed via his Twitter
that Real Madrid has strong interest in signing Manu Ginobili next
season. The 32-year-old played for Ettore Messina, now Real Madrid’s
head coach, during his stint with Virtus Bologna from 2000-2002. It’s
rumored the club may offer Ginobili $10 million Euros, or roughly $13.5
million US dollars — much more than the $10.7 million the Spurs are
paying him this season.

The possible lockout in 2011-2012 has put every NBA player’s finances on alert, and that could be serious motivation for Ginobili to play for Madrid next season. The Spurs have always been the center of Manu’s NBA universe, and if San Antonio decides to go in another direction, is the allure of playing for the top league in the world enough of an allure for an aging Ginobili?

Could be. Manu is nothing if not a fierce competitor, and I’m sure he would prefer NBA-level competition compared to that in Europe. It should be interesting to see whether or not this rumor actually has legs to it, but the working components — Ginobili’s situation, the lockout, the future of the Spurs — all seem to make sense.

DeMarcus Cousins out for Kings vs. Warriors Saturday

DeMarcus Cousins, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams
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As if Golden State was not already a prohibitive favorite Saturday night.

DeMarcus Cousins, who has missed the last two games for Sacramento with a strained back and that will continue Saturday. Our old friend Bill Herenda tweeted it first.

Not only are the Kings 1-6 without Cousins, but they were also on their way to beating Charlotte Monday until Cousins had to leave the game.

Golden State will likely be without Harrison Barnes in this game after spraining his ankle in the last game. Expect Andre Iguodala to get the start, or if interim coach Luke Walton doesn’t want to mess with the bench rotation he could go with Brandon Rush.

Good news: Anthony Davis listed as probably vs. Utah Saturday

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Watching Anthony Davis fall to the court clutching his knee, not being able to put any pressure on his leg as he was helped to the locker room, it was frightening Friday night in Los Angeles.

It turns out it’s not that bad. After the game the injury was described as a “knee contusion” and not the serious damage that was feared. Saturday the Pelicans said Davis was good to go.

Whew. Nobody wants to see Davis miss time.

The Pelicans had won three in a row until they ran into the Clippers Friday night. Davis has played better of late — the New Orleans defense is 7.2 points per 100 better when he is on the court — and New Orleans has gotten better point guard play out of Ish Smith.

Stephen Curry abuses Sun’s Price with behind-the-back, pull-up three (VIDEO)

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That is just cruel.

An on-fire Warriors team dropped 44 on the Suns in the first quarter Saturday, and Curry had 19 of those points going 5-of-6 from three. The Suns’ had no defender who could begin to hang with him. Certainly not Ronnie Price, who came in off the bench and got abused for his efforts.

Curry finished with 41 points, never had to set foot on the court in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors improved to 17-0 on the season. Just another day at the office for them.

Philadelphia has dropped record 27 in a row dating back to last season

Brett Brown

We tend to think of record streaks having to be in one season, not broken up across two.

But if you can suspend that, the Philadelphia 76ers are now the owners of the longest losing streak in NBA — and major professional sports — history.

With their tough two-points loss to Houston Friday night, the Sixers have lost 27 in a row. The Sixers dropped their final 10 last season and with the loss to the Rockets are 0-17 to start this one.

That bests the 26-game losing streaks of the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and these same Sixers from 2013-14. Looking across sports, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 1976-1977 also lost 26 in a row, which when you consider the length of the NFL season is pretty embarrassing.

The Sixers struggles are born from a plan by GM Sam Hinkie (and approved by ownership) to get better long-term by being bad now and hoarding draft picks. It’s a strategy that can work if Hinkie nails the draft picks (the book is out on how Hinkie is doing on that front). And they are committed to it through at least this draft.

But don’t think for a second the players and coach are trying to lose.

If you have watched the Sixers play their last few games you know the players are trying hard to get that victory (and almost have a couple of times). The effort is there, they are just outmatched and lack the kind of presence at the end of games to execute under pressure (something a couple of quality, regularly-playing veterans might help, but that’s another discussion). They have the point differential of a team that should have a couple wins; they just haven’t been fortunate. It happens. Go ahead and blame management if you think this plan is an abomination. Just don’t question the desire or effort of the players or coaches, that is not in doubt.

The Sixers play at the Grizzlies Sunday, then have maybe their best shot at a win for a while when they host the Lakers on Tuesday.