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NBA PM: Iguodala Ready For Nuggets’ Challenge
Posted By Bill Ingram On August 16, 2012 @ 5:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
As much as Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard have dominated headlines since being swapped for each other in what turned out to be a series of trades between four teams, there is more to this trade than just two superstar centers changing hands. The Denver Nuggets made a significant step forward with their part of the trade, and today Andre Iguodala took the stage alongside team president Josh Kroenke and general manager Masai Ujiri to talk about his new team.
“We’re obviously very excited to have him and we think he’s going to be a great addition to our team,” said Kroenke. “He brings another veteran, winning presence. I think he’s proven over the course of his career in Philadelphia that he wants to win and he’s going to bring that mentality to our team, instill it in a few of our younger guys and help Andre Miller out on the veteran side. It’s an exciting time. We’re obviously thrilled to have him.”
First of all, Iguodala paid homage to his time with the Philadelphia 76ers, where he came into his own as a professional basketball player.
“It was really just a great experience and something that you’ll remember for the rest of your life,” Iguodala said. “On the court everybody does what they normally do, but we knew we had to build with one another in order for us to get on that setting and make it a team effort. Just the way we linked up together and the way we communicated on the bus rides, practices, late nights, playing cards – all those bonding moments. Those are the things you remember the most and that’s what brought us together. Those are things you don’t see, but they become valuable on the court. I’m definitely learning how to get the most out of the team in areas off the court and being a better veteran and leader.”
Right off the bat, Iguodala said that even though he is in the last year of his contract, he is looking to be in Denver for a very long time.
“It’s funny because Masai and I spoke about it,” Iguodala said. “We’re both looking forward. He told me what he expected from me and I said what I wanted to accomplish. We weren’t coming into this thinking it’s a one-year deal. We were looking towards the future. We’re definitely already looking ahead and seeing how we can go forward and this not being just a quick stop for me, knowing this is a great organization. I got a lot of feedback from a lot of different guys, current players, former players, even other trainers about the organization, that this would be a great place for me to have some great years ahead of me and possibly ending my career here.”
One reason Iguodala is hoping to spend the foreseeable future in Denver is because he has a great relationship with management and respect for head coach George Karl.
“First of all we have great owners,” Iguodala said. “I’m not just saying that. It’s funny, (Josh) and I met before he came to this position, all he had was a Rolex and some jeans and a white polo and he said all I got is this nice Rolex and nothing else. We had a great time with each other in Hawaii at a mutual friend’s wedding. How we came to this point is funny. In talking to other players, I talked to Carmelo (Anthony) and a few of his friends. We actually spoke about Coach Karl before the trade in the weight room. I was asking what Denver was like, we were talking all about the team. He said you would be a perfect fit for Coach Karl, you two would really gel with one another. Just small things like that. It got me thinking once the trade went through on a long flight back, looking at the team we have and how I can help the young guys grow. And, having some of my best years with Andre Miller is really one of the best opportunities that I’ve had the opportunity to take advantage of. I’m looking forward to it.”
Iguodala is also looking forward to playing with the Nuggets, some of whom he has gotten to know over the years.
“It’s funny because I know a few of the guys from different places,” Iguodala said. “I know JaVale (McGee) from when he was with the USA Select Team, Andre Miller. It’s funny how I know Ty Lawson. He’s a slickster so you have to watch him playing cards. He tried to get me a couple times. I really got to know him that one night we were around each other in L.A. I met (Tomofey) Mozgov on the medal stand when we were in London. I had good competition against Wilson (Chandler) and (Danilo) Galo when they were with the Knicks. The NBA is like a fraternity, you get to know all the guys. I think we all have a respect for one another. I think they respect my game as well as I respect theirs. I just want to come in and work hard, show them that way. I’ve done that my whole career, leading on the court first by example and everything else vocally comes after that.”
Iguodala has heard his name mentioned in so many trade rumors over the last couple of years that he didn’t think there was much to it. After all, every other time his name was being thrown around nothing came of the rumors.
“Well, I heard the rumors late one night and guys were talking about it,” Iguodala said. “I didn’t think it would happen because I had been in so many trade rumors the last four or five years, so I didn’t think the trigger would be pulled. Once it was, I had a really good conversation with Rod Thorn, he explained everything to me and was really professional about it. Once that happens your mind gets racing, but at the same time I had to stay focused with Team USA and not jump the gun too early and go ahead with a task when I hadn’t finished the one I was currently handling but we are human so I was thinking about it. But I wanted to wait until it was over to really start thinking about it.”
It’s no secret that the Nuggets were looking to upgrade their defense and their versatility with the trade. Arron Afflalo, who was sent to Orlando, is a strong defender, but Iguodala is a far superior defender and he can play multiple positions, as well.
“That’s just something my game has really picked up on in the NBA because I feel throughout my life I have been able to do everything on the basketball court,” said Iguodala. “From playing point guard in high school to center one year in high school to doing everything in college and then going through different roles in Philadelphia, coming in and being a rookie, defensive stopper then having to be a scorer for three/four years between there. I feel like I have a lot of confidence, whether it’s taking the big shot or making the play that gets us the shot, just being a playmaker and the ultimate team guy. … You try to have it to where (defense) is becoming contagious and have that presence on the floor, especially being in the East, when the scores can be in the 80′s a lot more, where in the West it’s in the 100′s. Possessions really count, not only in the end but beginning. That’s how I got on the court originally when I came into the league. Playing with Allen Iverson, he did the bulk of the scoring. I just needed to find a way to get myself on the court and defense became my way, it became second nature to defend like that.”
Iguodala has already studied the Nuggets’ offense a bit, and sees how he will fit in immediately.
“You just run fast, it’s pretty simple,” Iguodala said. “Especially with a great point guard, two point guards we have in Ty and Andre Miller. Their pass ahead is really what gets it going. Most point guards, when they get in transition, the first thing they do is put it down. What I’ve learned from Andre is he catches, turns, and looks first, then gets it ahead. I don’t’ know statistics, but I would assume this team leads in throw-ahead passes to scorers. That’ll help my game out and we’ll just flow right along with each other. I’ll do the same thing, getting the rebound, being able to push on the break, and being able to do so many things.”
Of course, playing for Coach Karl is a fairly straightforward process, as he puts his cards on the table and let’s his expectations be known. He’s already talked to Iguodala about getting more free throws and connecting on more three-pointers.
“I think I shot 38 percent from three, and that was probably the best year I had,” Iguodala said. “It kind of evened out. Coach Karl and I actually spoke about that. It was a really good conversation when we first spoke five or six days ago. The first thing when we spoke he spoke about what I needed to work on, which was great. When I got on the phone with him he didn’t sugar coat anything, didn’t say you’re a great player, you’re going to love being here, blah blah blah, he went straight to the things he thought I needed to do in order to get he most out of myself and help the team. Free throws was one thing, getting to the free throw line was another. Just being aggressive. That was something I took out of the conversation that I think will help us a lot, being up front and getting the most from each other.”
As for Denver itself, Iguodala is looking forward to living in the city, as well as competing with the team.
“I experienced Denver my rookie year for All-Star weekend,” Iguodala said. “The first thing I noticed was it’s clean. Not to say that Philly is dirty, but it’s really clean here. There’s nice people. The fans are always great when we come here. They’re not like really rowdy fans as far s getting on other teams, they’re just 100% behind their team. It’s like the other team doesn’t exist, which is great for this organization to have a fan base like we have. I’m looking forward to interacting with those guys. I’m finally in place. I wanna get moved in and get ready to go.”
Iguodala may not be a franchise cornerstone like Howard or Bynum, but he does represent a significant upgrade for the Nuggets. Last season they were one win away from advancing to the second round, and with Iguodala in place they should challenge for a spot in the Western Conference Finals next time around.
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Don’t Sleep On Jason Richardson
The newly-acquired Andrew Bynum is now all the rage in Philadelphia, but the 76ers also got another significant piece in their part of the four-team trade extravaganza that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Sixers gave up a star-caliber player in Andre Iguodala, but they also landed a player who will help their offense tremendously. Jason Richardson is one of the more underrated shooting guards in the NBA, and his three-point-shooting prowess will serve as an excellent complement to Bynum’s low post dominance.
“Jason Richardson has strong array of accomplishments,” said Sixers CEO Adam Aron at yesterday’s press conference. “Jason has the extraordinary accomplishment of making 1,520 3-point shots, the 15th highest number of any player in the entire history of the NBA. All of us with the 76ers cannot wait to see the ball in your hands at the Wells Fargo Center this season.”
Richardson is no stranger to being traded, and is about to play for his fifth NBA team. Wherever he has been, he’s been a positive influence off the court as much as he’s been a prolific scoring threat on it.
“I’m excited about this team,” said Richardson. “Seeing them last year, what (head coach) Doug (Collins) did with the team, how young and explosive they were, I was very excited when the trade happened. Coming to a young team with one of the best centers in the game to play along with, I was definitely excited to come here and be a part of this organization.”
Richardson said that spending time in Orlando, playing alongside Dwight Howard, will help him adjust to playing with Bynum and the Sixers.
“I think it was a good thing playing with Dwight last year because it actually prepared me to play with Andrew,” Richardson said. We definitely know we have to get him the ball, let him dominate down there. There’s no doubt this is his team. He’s going to lead us and take us as far as he can take us.”
As for his own role, Richardson looks forward to being a veteran leader, as well as doing the things he has always done well on the court.
“Just going out there and being a true veteran, showing the guys that working hard, being successful and having the right attitude every time you step on the court, playing hard no matter what the situation is has always been my character,” Richardson said. “Playing with guys like Grant Hill, he was a true veteran, and I’m going to try to be that same role model for these guys.”
Richardson isn’t quite the all-around player that Andre Iguodala was, but with Bynum in the paint to erase defensive mistakes, Richardson’s scoring could prove to be a more potent weapon and better complement to what the Sixers are doing going forward.
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