The Golden State Warriors made a huge splash when they secured a deal with free-agent swingman Andre Iguodala, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, but the repercussions of that signing may not be all that positive for the team’s young scorers.
For Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, the addition of Iguodala means less playing time and a bench role for one of the tremendously talented perimeter players. At $12 million per season, it won’t be Iguodala losing out on the minutes.
Backcourt depth is great for the team, but it may not be so great for Thompson and Barnes.
Last season, Thompson enjoyed tremendous success at the 2-guard position next to budding superstar Stephen Curry.
Curry’s quick trigger and exceptional accuracy from long range made guarding both players on a nightly basis nearly impossible. As a result, Thompson averaged 16.6 points per game and made himself a virtually untouchable asset for the organization.
Barnes didn’t enjoy nearly as much success during the regular season (9.2 points per game), but he came on strong in the playoffs and similarly asserted himself as a potential cornerstone for the team. Barnes isn’t quite as untouchable, but Golden State probably has no interest in losing him in the near future.
Provided Thompson and Barnes are happy with a lesser roles next season, Iguodala’s presence shouldn’t cause any problems short of concerns about the team’s chemistry. How the pair feels about that situation, however, is entirely unknown.
Steve Kyler of Hoopsworld has his own questions about the situation:
The addition of Andre Iguodala is interesting... would Warriors now part with both Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes with Iguodala in town?— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) July 5, 2013
While it seems unlikely the Warriors would deal both players, it wouldn’t be a total surprise to see one of the two leave town now that Iguodala is in the fold.
The NBA is all about assets and cap space. Keeping both Thompson and Barnes going forward only puts Golden State at risk of losing them to free agency or being forced into a trade as they search for a big-money contract. Exchanging one for more suitable assets may not be a bad option.
Which player would you rather see in the starting lineup?
Iguodala was the ideal player to bring in this offseason given his ability to play either shooting guard or small forward—meaning neither incumbent starter will lose out on a sizable chunk of playing time—but we’re talking about the NBA. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
The most likely scenario at this point (outside a potential trade) is one in which Barnes comes off the bench as the team’s sixth man, keeping Thompson in place at 2-guard and giving Golden State the deadly long-range combo it enjoyed last season. With Iguodala and Barnes both on the floor, the Warriors would lose that sharpshooter element next to Curry.
These situations highlight the realities of the NBA. Building a winning team is circus-level balancing act that leaves little room for error. Where Golden State goes from here remains to be seen, but there are certainly plenty of questions left to answer.