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NBA Saturday: Where Will Iguodala Sign?
Posted By Joel Brigham On June 15, 2013 @ 9:26 am In NBA | No Comments
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Andre Iguodala to Opt Out, But Where Will He End Up?
Denver Nuggets forward Andre Iguodala will opt out of the final year of his contract, worth $15.9 million, so that he can test the free agency waters this summer, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. For those of you wondering why a 29-year-old player would leave that much bank on the table for a team that played so well last season, here a few really good reasons:
So opting out certainly wasn’t a mistake, and with so many teams looking to do some shopping this summer, there are plenty of places where Iguodala could end up. Here are a handful of the most likely:
Denver Nuggets – Denver CEO Josh Kroenke said the following on Friday about Iguodala’s plan to opt out of his contract: “We are fully aware of Andre’s intentions and he’s well aware of how much we want him back.” So there’s no question Denver is ready to pony up, particularly because Kroenke has to understand what kind of money Iguodala will expect considering he just left almost $16 million on the table. He could get an extra year with the Nuggets, and he already is familiar with the organization and his teammates. The question is whether or not all the upheaval is too much to want to stay.
Dallas Mavericks – If the Mavericks do not end up re-signing O.J. Mayo, who will decline his player option this summer and become an unrestricted free agent, they will have right around $13 million in cap space to play with this year and even more next year when Dirk Nowitzki’s $23 million comes off the books. (He has said he’ll take a pay cut to bring in better teammates, but does plan on re-signing in 2014). That number is just about right for Iguodala, who could be interested in playing with Dirk and goodness knows who else a year down the road. Dallas is ready to make a big splash, and Iguodala would help that big splash get underway now rather than a year from now.
Atlanta Hawks – Assuming they let Josh Smith walk, the Hawks could have $30 million in cap space this summer, which is more than enough to land Iguodala and another top-shelf free agent like Chris Paul or Dwight Howard. Depending on how free agency shakes out, the Hawks, with new head coach Mike Budenhozler, could become a very scary team by the start of next season. Why wouldn’t Iguodala want a piece of that action?
Detroit Pistons – With Tayshaun Prince gone, the Pistons clearly have a gaping hole at small forward, and Iguodala would be an amazing fit with a young team that is starting to look very close to being competitive again. New head coach Mo Cheeks is someone players really enjoy playing for, and goodness knows they’re going to have enough cap space (over $20 million if they don’t re-sign Jose Calderon). Iguodala and a decent draft pick could push this team back into the postseason, but would Iggy want to risk his remaining best years on a team that might not be quite ready for primetime?
Houston Rockets – There’s no question that Houston’s top priority is landing Dwight Howard, but if that falls through, as it did last summer, the Rockets could take a shot at Iguodala. They’ve got $16 million in team options for a significant handful of players, plus a great young core built around James Harden, Jeremy Lin, and Omer Asik. If they strike out with Dwight, Iguodala might be their second-best option in free agency, but only if Daryl Morey decides he’s worth $13-15 million a season. And Daryl Morey doesn’t take that kind of money lightly.
New Orleans Pelicans – New Orleans may not seem like an ideal place for a veteran like Iguodala to end up, but they’ve got loads of cap space and a tremendous need for a small forward. Going off that, it’s no wonder they’d have interest in Iguodala. They’re a young group with a long way to go towards being a playoff team again, but money and opportunity have been more than enough for free agents in the past; there’s no reason to shrug them off as motivators for this particular free agent.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Cleveland has underspent for a few years now, opting to be horrible enough to let the young kids develop and earn some more high lottery picks for the rebuilding they’re clearly still stuck in the middle of. By 2014, however, they hope to at least have a shot at bringing LeBron James home, which is why some people think they’ll be conservative in free agency once again this summer. That said, the Cavs have a huge gap at small forward and Iguodala would fill it very nicely. Should they decide that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, Iggy could be their guy, and they could move forward with a core of him, Kyrie Irving, and the #1 pick in this month’s draft.
Iguodala could very well end up re-signing in Denver. After all, his opting out did not come with the caveat that he was fed up with this current team; in fact, he appeared to be more comfortable in Denver than he’s been in years, so don’t count him out of a return.
At the same time, he’s going to be the third prettiest girl at the ball this summer behind Paul and Howard, and who knows what front office will woo him into leaving Denver? The above teams are the most logical for signing him outright, but we can’t even rule out the possibility of a sign-and-trade with yet another team that wants into the sweepstakes. This whole thing makes the impending free agency period all the more interesting, both for fans and the teams looking to spend their money.
Kobe Still Wants to Surpass Jordan’s Total Titles
It hasn’t really been talked about much, probably because most of us don’t really believe it or, at the very least, don’t want to believe it, but there is a chance that Kobe Bryant has played his last NBA game. One of the greatest players of all time, and definitely one of the two greatest players of his generation, Bryant may never play again.
The good news is that, despite the Achilles injury that knocked the nearly-35-year-old superstar out of the playoffs earlier this spring, Bryant is now telling people that he hopes to come back next season stronger than ever, and that he hopes to have the opportunity to play for at least two more championships. All this is according to ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne, whose source indicated that Bryant hopes to be “back next season with a vengeance.” Considering Bryant has long stated he’d only remain in the league as long as he could play at a high level, that’s not surprising.
Fans, of course, would love to have him back; there’s nothing enjoyable about the thought of an NBA in which Bryant isn’t a part, however one has to wonder if L.A. really would have enough to even making it back to an NBA Finals at this point, let alone win one.
The future of Dwight Howard as a Laker, for starters, is in serious doubt. While there certainly is a chance he’ll take the extra $30 million and stay with L.A. for the next half a decade, there’s also a chance he’ll sign somewhere else, with Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta all prepping themselves for a hard push at the league’s most talented center.
If Howard leaves, are aged versions of Bryant and Steve Nash, along with Pau Gasol, enough to propel the Lakers back into the Western Conference’s upper crust?
Bryant, who is calling his last few years in the league “The Last Chapter,” certainly believes it’s possible, but whatever L.A. actually ends up accomplishing next season and beyond, the good news is that Bryant absolutely is planning on playing again. All those talks we didn’t have about the possibility of him calling it quits, we’re glad we didn’t we have. Perhaps it wasn’t discussed because, deep down, we all knew he’d be back. Of course he would.
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