As David Aldridge of NBA.com noted, Karl’s departure (along with that of Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri) is sure to create a ripple effect that could impact what the 29-year-old decides to do this summer when he becomes a free agent.
Aldridge was in contact with Iguodala following Karl’s dismissal, and he tweeted a text the guard sent him in regards to the news:
That’s probably not the response Nuggets fans would have hoped for given Iguodala’s importance to the budding championship contender. Things didn't exactly go according to plan when Denver made its playoff appearance this season, but the pieces are (or were) in place for another attempt in 2013-14.
The No. 9 pick in the 2004 draft, Iguodala needed a couple seasons to adjust to the pace of the NBA. But in his third season, the Arizona product made a huge leap in tallying 18.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game, giving the Philadelphia 76ers plenty of hope for his future with the team.
After three more terrific seasons, Iguodala’s production began to decline. Then in 2012-13, he found himself on a Nuggets squad with some tremendous young talent and a very good chance to make waves in the postseason.
But with a premature exit from the playoffs, Iguodala was left to contemplate a big decision. As quoted by Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post, the shooting guard still has to let it all sink in:
When I got to Los Angeles and sit down and talk to my agent — we’ll start having conversations. I didn’t really think the season would be ending this early. It was never on my mind what I would do next year.
I know what type of potential this team has; so that won’t weight heavily on my decision. … The timeline of my career going forward, I definitely want to win a championship. At the same time, it’s a business, but I don't think it’s a factor. The front office knows what I bring to the team, so we’ll see what happens. There are so many factors that I haven’t even thought of yet. Which is why I’ll just sit down and weight all my options, take my time with it, and not rush into anything.
None of those factors probably had anything to do with George Karl. With the nine-year Denver head coach out the door, Iguodala will have even more to think about.
As he hinted to Hochman, Karl’s determination was one of his focuses when discussing the future:
"I think that started with bringing me here. He’s really hungry, Coach [George] Karl is hungry, and we have a lot of hungry players as well."
With Karl and Ujiri gone, the loyalty factor is all but dried up. Apart from a one-year stint with his Denver teammates, Iguodala has no reason not to test the market in search of a team with more stability and a greater chance of making a championship run next season.
That’s not to say the Nuggets aren't still in position to compete, but the offseason process is fluid. With one big free-agent signing (like Dwight Howard or Chris Paul), plenty of teams could become contenders, especially with a complement like Iguodala in the fold.
And it still remains to be seen what Denver will choose to offer the shooting guard this summer. Given the team’s total unwillingness to entertain the idea of retaining Karl, why should Iguodala expect a competitive offer when he becomes a free agent?
So much of this is speculative at this point in the process, but there’s reason to believe Iguodala will be more inclined to test the waters with Karl no longer in town. He doesn't exactly have a history with the Nuggets and, apart from some young talent, there’s no longer a comfortable foundation to stand on.