Manu Ginobili On Returning To The Spurs: “I Never Wanted To Leave”

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Two-thirds of San Antonio’s millennium Big Three will be returning for the 2016 season, after Manu Ginobili decided to come back for his 15th season with the San Antonio Spurs.

Ginobili turned lots of heads after his decision to opt out of his contract, spurring rumors that he’d be joining Tim Duncan in retirement or perhaps heading to another team. But according to Ginobili, that was never really in the cards.

“I never wanted to leave San Antonio,” he told The Vertical in an interview. “But I had to listen to all the options that are there.” Ginobili signed a one-year contract for $14 million with the Spurs last week, an major upgrade from the $2.8 million he was paid in 2013. If it weren’t for that upgrade, you may have seen Ginobili doning a Sixers jersey instead of the classic black and silver we’ve been accustomed too.

“The fact that Philadelphia had a great coach and a person I appreciate so much as Brett Brown, made it more appealing in the case the Spurs didn’t happen,” Ginobili told The Vertical. “But the Spurs happened and they always had the priority.”

With the departure of Duncan, Ginobili is well aware of how different the upcoming season will be, especially given the slew of changes to multiple teams during the off season: Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors, Dwyane Wade to the Chicago Bulls, Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks and Timofey Mozgov to the Los Angeles Lakers.

In a way, Ginobili is an outlier this off season. His decision to re-sign with the Spurs showcases what many fans have been clamoring about during an off season that saw franchise benchmarks like Durant and Wade jump ship to other teams. Franchise loyalty isn’t as high in this era of the NBA as it used to be, which begs the question: Will the exit of Tony Parker and Tim Duncan mark the end of the traditional team?

At least with Ginobili back for one more season, the Spurs remain the top contenders they’ve always been.