Ranking Best Potential 2013 Free-Agent Fits for Andre Iguodala
Andre Iguodala has the opportunity to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and it's an avenue he'll likely explore.
According to Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports, Iguodala is leaning toward opting out of his contract upon season's end and makes no guarantees about returning to the Denver Nuggets.
To be fair, Iggy hasn't ruled out re-signing in Denver either. He has helped the Nuggets deliver a thrilling season. They currently have sole possession of third place in the Western Conference, and their 15-game winning streak stands as the third-longest of the season.
Still, at 29, opting out of his current deal and securing a long-term contract makes sense for the veteran.
Does it make sense for the Nuggets to sign him to that pact? And if it does, will they be willing to line his pockets with the same wads of cash that other factions will?
Iguodala has proved to be a sensational fit in Denver, and in a less-than-exuberant free-agent pool, his versatility is bound to top many a wish list.
*All stats used in this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference, Synergy Sports, 82games.com and NBA.com unless otherwise noted.
5. New Orleans Hornets
2012-13 Salary Commitments: $35 million
Tell me an Anthony Davis and Andre Iguodala pick-and-roll combo doesn't intrigue you.
Youth is something the New Orleans Hornets have in excess. Veteran leadership is not. Latching onto Iguodala would help New Orleans make the push from developing faction to potentially playoff-bound.
Greivis Vasquez has performed admirably (9.2 assists per game), but aside from him, no one is really known for their passing (Eric Gordon, maybe?).
Iguodala would allow the Hornets to run with a wide variety of offensive sets. He's not known for his shooting prowess but is able to get to the rim with ease. With Gordon operating on a pair of fragile knees, New Orleans lacks a source of explosive dribble penetration. Davis is an athletic freak, but he shouldn't be taking the ball to the rim on his own, no matter how precise a handle he has.
You've also got to believe the Hornets would love to house a player who could defend four out of the five spots on the floor. New Orleans' defense has been adequate, but it's 23rd in points allowed from beyond the arc (23.1) per game. Iguoldala would help mitigate any problems on the wing.
Also of interest would be Iguodala's value from a mentoring standpoint. Austin Rivers' transition from volume-shooter to combo guard bordered on ugly before he went down for the season. Alongside Iggy, he would have a model for positional balance.
Late in games, one can never underestimate the value of a seasoned veteran either.
Much of this would hinge on Iguodala's interest in playing for a rebuilding team, but if the Hornets are willing to pay him, this project is one that could use his versatile touch.
4. Dallas Mavericks
2012-13 Salary Commitments: $48.5 million
The Dallas Mavericks need a point guard. And again, while Iguodala isn't a traditional distributor, he poses a more intriguing fit than say, Brandon Jennings, whom Mark Cuban and company are known to have interest in.
Signing Andre Iguodala wouldn't make the Mavericks younger, but he would bring them closer to contending. More than Jennings would, at least.
Iggy has found success alongside the ball-dominating stylings of both Ty Lawson and Andre Miller, so he won't have any trouble playing off-camera if Dirk Nowitzki decides to isolate his defender.
More importantly, though, he doesn't need to score to be effective or feel effective. He's attempting just over 11 shots this season and has always assumed a "whatever the team needs" stance. Just ask the Philadelphia 76ers. And the Nuggets, too.
Dallas' defense is also in dire need of a perimeter defender like Iggy. The Mavericks are 27th in points allowed per game (102.2) and could use a top-tier defender to help bolster their attack on that side of the ball.
Of course, Dirk and crew are in need of a capable big first. O.J. Mayo's future needs to be hashed out before Dallas makes any large acquisitions as well.
But with the team in need of a selfless facilitator and able defender, keeping tabs on Iguodala is a must.
3. Utah Jazz
2012-13 Salary Commitments: $25.7 million
After figuring out what to do with free agents Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, the Utah Jazz need to address their point guard situation.
Utah has experimented with a vast array of different floor-general options, but lack that true facilitator, someone who can direct the offense into the postseason and beyond.
Andre Iguodala isn't a point guard by conventional standards, but he's one of the best point-forward types in the league. He's averaging 4.9 assists per game on his career, 5.1 a night this season and has a keen eye both in transition and half-court sets.
Inking him would likely mean allowing one of Jefferson or Millsap to walk, but the Jazz have two budding bigs in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter that leave one of the former expendable. Bidding adieu to one in favor of Iguodala would provide Utah with a crafty veteran who can help control the tempo of the offense late in games.
Iggy's value from a defensive standpoint speaks for itself as well. He's averaging 1.5 steals per game, more than anyone else currently on the Jazz, and opposing shooting guards and small forwards are posting a beggarly 12.4 PER against him.
Presently, the Jazz rank 21st in defensive efficiency and could use an added perimeter component to help make life easier on those stationed in the post. Utah is 22nd in points allowed in the paint, and keeping opponents away from the rim to begin with will help lessen the interior blow significantly.
2. San Antonio Spurs
2012-13 Salary Commitments: $41 million
The San Antonio Spurs have cap space to burn, and Andre Iguodala embodies everything they have come to stand for: Selfless versatility.
Admittedly, there are some roadblocks to such a scenario. Manu Ginobili seems like a lock to return to San Antonio, and depending on how much he commands annually, there might not be enough dollar signs to go around. The Spurs are also a veteran team and might not be eager to ink yet another athlete approaching or on the wrong side of 30 to a long-term deal.
Also worth noting is that Iguodala's presence would call for some lineup changes. Either Kawhi Leonard or Danny Green would have come off the bench to create room in the starting lineup.
If it all works out, though, I ask you: Why the hell not?
Not only can Iguodala run the offense in a pinch, but his defensive prowess would more than replace that of the likely departing Stephen Jackson. He would give the Spurs an athletic star, thus allowing them to keep pace with some of the more explosive Western Conference teams. They're doing that now, but attempting to bring another star into the fold who would push them over the hump is not to be scoffed at.
San Antonio is among the top seven in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and reeling in a guy like Iggy who makes both Denver's offense and defense better when on the floor would only perpetuate an already-balanced two-way attack.
1. Denver Nuggets
2012-13 Salary Commitments: $56 million (without Iguodala)
If the Nuggets and Iguodala can reach a financial middle ground, this isn't a coupling that should be split.
Though Iguodala's 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.7 assists per game may not seem like much, he complements his teammates perfectly. He's also one of just three active NBA players to be averaging such totals simultaneously.
LeBron James and Russell Westbrook.
Bear in mind that the Nuggets 108 points per 100 possessions without Iguodala on the floor, the equivalent of 22nd in the league. When Iguodala's on the floor, that number falls to 104.5, or 11th in the league.
Iggy simply fits the mold of everything George Karl and the Nuggets need. He can defend, distribute, score and has no problem running with a convocation that averages the second-most possessions per 48 minutes of any outfit in the Association.
Annual salary may create some issues in the negotiating process, but while Denver is a cash-conscious franchise, Masai Ujiri has found ways to rid the team of unruly contracts (see Nene) in the past. There's no reason to believe the Nuggets couldn't do the same with Iguodala if they wish to eventually part ways.
Maybe I'm just a romantic, though. As we continue to watch the Nuggets defy the laws of star-less assemblies, I just don't want to see the third-best team in the west lose any of its key components.
Especially one that means far more to the team than most numbers could ever describe.