Posts Tagged ‘Andre Igoudala’

Igoudala Was Close To Picking The Kings

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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.

Warriors Ride Emotional Roller Coaster

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OAKLAND –
When the Warriors were finally able to exhale, when the moment that was never going to happen happened, when Andre Igoudala was finally, officially and unexpectedly introduced Thursday, they really exhaled.

Or fell face first into the pillow. Or looked around to make sure Igoudala really was there, on the roster and in the practice facility after the sign-and-trade that had been completed. The Warriors needed the visual confirmation.

Chasing Igoudala was no ordinary pursuit. It was, said Bob Myers, current general manager and former player agent, somewhere between exhausting and exhilarating, and probably both and everything in between. It was the deal that was never going to happen, until it did.

“This one was the hardest thing I’ve done,” said Myers, who has previously closed complicated deals working both sides of the aisle. “The hardest one. I can’t really explain why.”

Try this: All the Warriors had to do was convince a highly coveted free agent to come, convince him to come for less money than others had offered, find somewhere to dump about $24 million in contracts, wrangle a three-team trade (Jazz being the third team) that would deliver Igoudala while preserving valuable cap flexibility for Golden State through salary cap technicalities. Explaining why is not difficult.

Explaining how, that’s where it gets tricky.

“As free agency went on, I kept having to tell (Rob Pelinka, Igoudala’s agent), ‘Look, Rob. I’ve known you a long time. I can’t promise this is going to happen.’ And then I went through what I was trying to accomplish, but every conversation ended with me saying, ‘Look, I don’t see this getting done.’ And he said, ‘Well, keep me posted. We don’t have to make a decision yet.’

“It’s almost like seeing something within your grasp but you can’t quite get it. It’s sitting out there for you. This is a business where one player can make a huge difference, as you well know, so for us to see a player of Andre’s caliber within striking distance, it was almost tantalizing. But then not having a way to do it and being rebuffed at every turn for days and hours and conversations and feeling like it was hopeless, to actually see it happen, I’m very surprised.

It was obviously the result we coveted and the one we got, but it was a very emotional roller-coaster. The whole process was. And like I said, fully prepared for it not to happen. Expecting it not to happen. Hoping that it would. But in the end, seeing it come to fruition, it was great. It was great for our whole group.”

How many times did Myers think the deal might not happen?

“I think the better question was how many times did I think it actually might. I thought it was dead 25 times. I never thought it was real until it was actually real.”

It became actually real on Wednesday, when Igoudala went from Denver to Oakland, Randy Foye went from Utah to Denver in a sign-and-trade, Kevin Murphy went from Utah to Oakland, and Brandon Rush, Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson, unprotected first-round picks in 2014 and ’17, second-rounders in 2016 and ’17 and cash went from Oakland to Utah, and a 2018 second-round selection went from Denver to Utah. Twenty-sixth time’s a charm.

The Warriors, Myers conceded, were never truly serious threats to land Dwight Howard, despite being one of only five teams to meet with Howard. And the chances of a Howard-Igoudala package signing were almost nonexistent.

“I think it was a little bit misrepresented,” Myers said. “I don’t want to get into it too much because he plays for another team, but we always felt like this was the focus, in my opinion, it was Andre. And Dwight’s representatives were pretty forthright. I think it was not as close as people thought.”

Warriors Take Another Step Forward

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HANG TIME WEST – It was the first two rounds of the playoffs all over again, with the Warriors a blur of action, unpredictability and unspoken statements about the future, only this time with enough crowd noise to blow the lid off more than Oracle Arena. Try the entire Western Conference.

Golden State was going hard after Dwight Howard, weighing trade options, digging for cap space in a final push Friday before his planned decision, planned being the operative word with any Howard expedition. And then: Andre Iguodala.

Brilliant. Better than coming away with Howard, the glitzy result but one that would have reduced the Stephen Curry impact and threatened team chemistry while potentially costing additional players in a sign-and-trade.

Trading Brandon Rush, Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and first-round picks in 2014 and 2017 to the Jazz for Kevin Murphy to clear the cap room to sign Iguodala could become the no-look pass of the 2013-14 season.

The Warriors are coming off a trip to the second round despite injury and inexperience and just added a versatile veteran who makes them better on both sides of the ball. Without costing them anyone from the rotation. And saving about $11 million in salary next season.

The loss statement is misleading – they also had to renounce Jarrett Jack, a major contributor off the bench, and Rush would have had a prominent role if not for tearing two ligaments in the left knee in his second and last game. But still. The Warriors were considering high-risk moves of dealing Andrew Bogut and Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes, among others, if that’s what it took to land the finicky Howard in a sign-and-trade and instead got a lot better while barely touching the core of a roster that pushed for the Western Conference final without coming close to its potential.

They got better.

The Nuggets, one of the teams that finished ahead of Golden State, got worse by losing Iguodala without compensation.

The Jazz, one of the teams that finished close behind, won’t get better off this deal for at least one season and maybe two.

It probably means a move to the bench for Barnes, impressive showing by a rookie in the playoffs or not, but he should be as visible on the wing as shooting guard Thompson and Iguodala as the successor at small forward. With Iguodala’s versatility, especially as a standout defender, the three could play together.

The Warriors need to find a reserve point guard and a backup center with Festus Ezeli expected to be out until approximately midseason after knee surgery, but David Lee, Curry, Bogut, Iguodala, Thompson and Barnes is a very good first six. Getting Iguodala, while also hitting the Nuggets hard, is another step forward.

Iguodala Really Has Become The Glue


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SACRAMENTO, Calif. –Andre Iguodala has really been the glue to the team,” Andre Iguodala was saying Tuesday night in the visitors’ locker room. “Without him, I don’t know where they would be. I hope they realize that.”

It was a joke, another moment of good spirit in what was already a feel-good run by the Nuggets that stretched to six wins in a row with the 120-113 victory over the Kings at Sleep Train Arena.

Oh, and they do realize it.

That is the serious take-away, and not just from Tuesday. The Nuggets pretty much know where they would be without him, or at least what they would be had Iguodala not been acquired from the 76ers in the trade that sent Dwight Howard from the Magic to the Lakers and Andrew Bynum from Los Angeles to Philadelphia.

Denver would be good enough to be in the playoff picture, as was the case last season, but probably not good enough to be a threat beyond throwing a scare into one of the top-seeded teams, as was also the case last season while taking the heavily favored Lakers to seven games in the first round. Denver would be a fun bunch of scoring but lack the defensive presence required to truly become a postseason factor.

The Nuggets are 40-22, fifth in the Western Conference and three games out of third, because they have gone from 23rd in shooting defense in 2011-12 to tied for 11th in 2012-13.

“We thought he would fit our system extremely well,” coach George Karl said. “I think he’s gone far above and beyond at the defensive end of the court of doing what we want him to do. I have been surprised at offensively, the speed of how we like to play has confused him at times. But it’s not a problem. It’s just something that he’s got to get better at. We’ve got to help him get better at it. And I think we are.

“I don’t think there’s any question in my mind: I have confidence that hopefully in a playoff game he’ll have a big night and win us a game because of his offense as much as being whatever you want to put him in. I put him in the top 10 defensive players in basketball. That’s so much of what we need. We need that. We need to think defense more. We need to have pride in our defense more. Whatever improvement we’ve made in that area, I think he’s got to get most of the credit.”

In what has turned out to be a blockbuster that led to uncertainty – Will Howard find health and happiness in L.A.? Will Bynum find health and the court in Philly? Will the rebuilding Magic find their way back to relevance? – Iguodala in Denver has been unquestionably positive.

He may opt out of the final season of his contract, but every indication is that he would do it to re-sign a long-term deal, not to leave. He may be having adjustment moments on offense, but is still a weapon who must be respected.

There is little sign of blockbuster-induced uncertainty.

“I’ve probably had about two or three good games, like real Andre Iguodala games, this year,” Iguodala said. “I haven’t had many. I haven’t been able to be in attack mode as much as I’ve wanted to be. But it’ll happen. I think the main thing is not to really press.”

He thinks it will happen in the playoffs. He thinks everyone will realize the one big name from the trade who is working out.

“I noticed it,” Iguodala said, needle at the ready. “I’m not really surprised. It’s just something I pride myself on as a basketball player, having that knowledge, being the guy who can go to any situation and make the situation better for that team.”

The Nuggets’ situation is already better, with the possibility of more gains to come in the postseason. It is impossible not to realize that.