Spurs' Ginobili signs 3-year extension

SAN ANTONIO -- Manu Ginobili finally convinced the San Antonio Spurs his best days aren't yet behind him.

Ginobili signed a three-year, $39 million extension Friday that keeps off him this summer's free-agent market, and smooths over hurt feelings caused by the Spurs waiting for proof that the 32-year-old can still be an impact player.

The past two months convinced them. Since the All-Star break, Ginobili has averaged 22 points and carried the Spurs to 17 victories in 24 games.

"I was a little upset, then understanding, then I just let it go," Ginobili said. "I went through all the moods possible. Now it's gone, and we're good friends again. We love each other again."

Injuries the past two years caused the Spurs to wonder about Ginobili's durability and future production. An ankle injury hobbled him throughout the 2008 playoffs, and he missed last season's postseason entirely with a fracture in his other ankle.

That prompted the team to take a wait-and-see approach to negotiations entering this season, the last under Ginobili's current deal. But the Argentine lately has swayed the Spurs that he can still be the healthy spark plug he was during their past three championship runs.

"It's always good to have information that helps leads you to make decisions," Spurs general manager R.C. Buford said. "I think Manu's play, especially in the last three months, has continued to show that he's an important part of our future."

Ginobili has spent all eight seasons of his NBA career in San Antonio. The former NBA sixth man of the year has built a reputation as one of the league's best finishers with his fearless drives to the basket, often at the expense of his body.

But that signature explosiveness was missing early in the season. Ginobili shuffled through a so-so year early and it looked increasingly likely the former All-Star would become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

Even after a season-high 43 points against Orlando last week, Ginobili discussed the possibility that his days with the Spurs might be numbered. The Magic were one of four division leaders Ginobili helped the Spurs topple in a span of 10 days.

Negotiations seemed to accelerate after that. The Spurs and Ginobili's agent, Herb Rudoy, had talked all season, but by Wednesday a deal was imminent.

Ginobili, who turns 33 in July, will be 36 after his contract expires. He wouldn't say the deal would take him through the end of his career, but is glad to have at least three more years with the Spurs.

"It was really hard to picture myself with another colored jersey," Ginobili said. "It's good that it happened before the playoffs so I don't have to think about it."

The deal keeps the Spurs' core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Ginobili together for at least another season. Parker's deal expires at the end of next year, and Duncan's in 2012.

"We've been through so much together. It's great to have familiar faces around," Duncan said. "Manu has been great years for now, and has been great in this stretch here. We look forward to trying to get one more championship under our belt."

San Antonio last won the title in 2007 with a sweep of the Cavaliers.