New acquisition LaMarcus Aldridge will earn nearly $20 million for his first season with the San Antonio Spurs. Veterans (and certain Hall of Famers) Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will make just about $8 million — together. No need to worry about Ginobili and Duncan, of course — they’ve made multiple millions over long careers. They might actually be making, if you take away the intangibles of what they mean to the Spurs organization, what they are worth as the statistical data dictate. The Spurs torch, bright as ever, has passed to Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard.
The Duncan and Ginobili salaries are relevant because they quietly speak to the Spurs unique culture. (Another example is David West, also new to the team, who took far less money to play for San Antonio than he’d have made elsewhere.) By contrast, Kobe Bryant’s last season with the Lakers saw the superstar paid $25 million. The Lakers finished 17-65, the worst season in their history. The Spurs, the inverse of the 2015-16 Lakers, lost just one game at home this year in route to a 67-15 record, the best in their glorious history. There is never any mention — or even a rumor — of salary gripes on San Antonio. A Spurs player dissatisfied with his deal would have to look the intense Manu Ginobili in the eye and make a case that he is more important to the Spurs than Manu. Ginobili will make $2.8 million this year, a pittance in the NBA.