LAS VEGAS – After the Warriors ran the emotional obstacle course to land Andre Igoudala, after the complicated three-team deal with the Jazz and Nuggets that delivered Igoudala to Golden State in a sign-and-trade, after Denver took the first steps in moving on from losing a centerpiece, this emerged:
The Kings walked away from the chance to change the league.
They were, in Igoudala’s words, close to getting him in what would have been huge forward progress in the attempt to become playoff contenders again while also halting the Warriors’ momentum. And Utah may not have acquired first-round picks, including for the very promising 2014 draft, for taking contracts from Golden State. At the very least, the Western Conference would have been altered heading toward 2013-14.
Igoudala just didn’t want to be put on the clock. He was, he said, strongly considering the Kings, but was not ready to make a decision. The Kings wanted him to be ready and gave a quick deadline, soon followed by pulling the offer when they had at least a day and maybe longer before actually needing an answer.
Sacramento management believed Igoudala would have committed right away if he was going to commit at all. Igoudala says that is not true, that he really liked the connection with the new front office and that he could see himself as part of a franchise he believed was headed in the right direction. Management also sensed it quickly needed to move on to other options if Igoudala was not going to happen, but that was not true either. The Kings could have pursued Carl Landry while keeping the four-year contract for Igoudala on the table and given Igoudala the take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum two or three days later as they closed in on a deal with Landry.
“When you’re dealing with deadlines as a player, it’s not really a positive thing to say, ‘All right, they’re giving me a deadline,’ ” Igoudala said. “You don’t want to really get into deadlines. We had really good conversations and I was close. After the first day, they were in the top three teams, top two teams. I think with (new owner) Vivek (Ranadive) coming from (the Warriors) ownership group and going out on his own and getting a team, he has a really good vision of what he wants to build in Sacramento. That vision was really attractive. I was almost close to going there.
“The deadline was a turnoff because I wanted to totally explore my other options. I still had two meetings to go when the deadline came. I still had to meet with Houston and I met with Dallas. I wanted to explore all my options.”
As it turned out, the Kings did reach an agreement with Landry, a deal that became official Monday, as part of an offseason filled with the positives of getting Ben McLemore at No. 7 in the draft, trading second-round picks for valuable defender Luc Mbah a Moute and hiring Pete D’Alessandro as general manager and Michael Malone as coach. It would have been a successful summer in Sacramento no matter what – the team is still there – and now there are the tangible positives as well. But a perennial loser of a franchise had captured the attention of a top free agent and should not have walked away from that while still in the conversation stage with Landry.
Igoudala now says he “probably” would have still chosen the Warriors in the end no matter what. But the Kings likely would have remained a possibility longer.
“Definitely nothing but love for Sacramento and I know they’re going to build some good things in the future,” he said.