NBA Rumors: Does Andre Iguodala to The Cleveland Cavaliers Make Sense?
On Friday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers got a look at a player who will be rumored to be going to Cleveland, as well as a plethora of other places, until the NBA trade deadline in February.
Before he went down with an injury, Andre Iguodala was on his way to another one of his solid nights.
He had seven points and four assists in the first half, which would put him on par for his normal average of 15.8 points per game in his career.
Iguodala's situation is a unique one in Philadelphia.
He is just now coming into his prime at the age of 26, but has never emerged as the scoring star that Philadelphia imagined he would be when they drafted him No. 9 overall in 2004 out of Arizona.
From the day that Iguodala put on a 76ers uniform, he was dubbed A.I. 2.
This, of course, is in reference to the original A.I. in Philadelphia: Allen Iverson.
Not only has he failed to live up to those expectations, but the 76ers also just drafted Evan Turner out of Ohio State with the No. 2 pick in the draft.
And for those of you who don't know, Evan Turner plays the same position as Iguodala, and he also costs much less than him.
Philadelphia is buried with a ridiculous $69 million in salary this season and $53 million for next season.
Those numbers aren't bad if you are a contender, but Philadelphia is on the five-year plan of rebuilding right now and big contracts like Andre Iguodala's don't make sense for the organization at this point in time.
So it is only natural that a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers—with an owner that is willing to spend money, wants to keep his team as a playoff contender and has the assets to reduce the 76ers' payroll— would be mentioned in the rumors section for Andre Iguodala.
But does the shoe fit?
Would Andre Iguodala be a good match for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are looking for help at their shooting guard and small forward positions after losing LeBron James to the Miami Heat?
Let's take a look.
Cleveland's Current Roster Situation
Currently, the Cleveland Cavaliers have one shooting guard on their roster with NBA starting experience.
That man is Anthony Parker.
AP, as the fans in Cleveland call him, is on the wrong side of 35 years of age, is in the final season of his contract and probably isn't suited for a starting role on an up-tempo offense team.
Parker is better known for his knock-down shooting abilities, and would be an excellent role player on a championship contender.
He also isn't getting any quicker, and is being exposed night after night by the opposing teams' shooting guards.
The rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard depth looks like this:
Daniel Gibson—an undersized shooting guard at 6'1" who can score, but is more accustomed to the point guard position.
Christian Eyenga—project first-round pick from 2009 that just made the jump to the NBA this season.
Manny Harris—preseason standout who was an undrafted rookie out of Michigan.
As you can see, the Cavaliers really don't have anyone they can depend on at the shooting guard position.
Trading for Andre Igoudala would allow the Cavaliers to stabilize a position that has lacked stability in Cleveland for a long time.
The Positive Aspects of Andre Iguodala's Game
Andre Iguodala would fit perfectly into the Cleveland offense for a couple of reasons.
The first is his excellent defensive abilities. Iguodala has been known for his lock-down defense since the day he set foot in this league, and that would be a welcome addition to an offense that is giving up 102.2 points per game.
The second reason is his rebounding ability. Iguodala has a career average of 5.8 rebounds per game at the shooting guard position.
The Cavaliers currently rank 29th in the league with 37.8 rebounds per game, and their current starting shooting guard averages just 2.8 rebounds per game.
Iguodala isn't afraid to mix it up inside on the glass, and this is something that has been missing all season for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The third reason is his slashing ability. If you think Iguodala is a jump shooter...you are crazy. He gets to the basket very well with his long arms and 6'6" frame, and this would be perfect for the Cleveland offense right now.
If you look at the Cavaliers, they are a jump shooting team on the wing. The addition of Iguodala would remove some of this log-jam of guards out there, and open up space for Mo Williams to create.
The fourth reason is his age. Iguodala is only 26 years of age, which in NBA terms means he is coming into his prime. Putting him next to players that can score would allow Iguodala to settle in and do what he does best.
The final reason is his dependability. If you take a look at Iguodala's career, he is an NBA iron man. He has missed six games prior to this season, and all of those came in the 2006-2007 season.
That dependability would be a welcome addition to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Negative Aspects of Andre Iguodala's Game
With the good, there is always the bad.
And with Iguodala, the bad obviously was enough for the 76ers to draft rookie Evan Turner who plays the same position as him.
One of the big knocks on him has been the unwillingness to take over the role of scorer in the NBA.
He came into the league with big expectations, but has only averaged 15.8 points per game in his career.
Another one of his problems is the lack of a jump shot.
He often attempts to become the jump shooter, and you will find him taking unwarranted three pointers or 20 foot jumpers that he isn't known to make.
Despite those two inabilities, he still shoots 46 percent from the field for his career, which means he knows partially what his role should be.
Another one of the big knocks on Iguodala is that he is turnover prone.
Although his average of 2.4 turnovers per game doesn't really reflect that statement, there are times that he will attempt to do too much with the ball instead of allowing his point guard to handle the duties.
So a shooting guard that turns the ball over and lacks a jump shot, this could be a problem in the wrong system.
The Huge Contract Issue
When the Philadelphia 76ers locked up Andre Iguodala for the long-term, they were expecting him to be their franchise player.
I think it's safe to say that the sentiment has changed since drafting Evan Turner No. 2 overall in 2010.
For those of you who don't know just how big this contract is, let's take a look.
2010-2011: $12.3 million
2011-2012: $13.5 million
2012-2013: $14.7 million
2013-2014: $15.9 million (player option)
For those of you who can't add, that is $56.4 million dollars of guaranteed money still owed to Andre Iguodala.
That's a lot of money to be playing in front of the No. 2 pick in the draft, and if the 76ers are attempting to rebuild and get younger, that money has to be moved.
Can the Cavaliers Take on Iguodala's Contract?
In one word....yes.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have an owner that isn't afraid to open his checkbook if the player is right.
Both owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Chris Grant have said throughout the offseason and season that they are not afraid to spend the money for the right player.
Currently the Cavaliers can offer the 76ers the financial freedom they seek in a multitude of ways.
They can offer the 76ers draft picks and a trade exception, which would mean that Iguodala's huge contract would be off their books now, and they could begin the rebuilding process with the roster they currently have.
Since you cannot combine any other players in a deal for the $14.5 million trade exception the Cavaliers have, it would be a straight up deal that would offer future draft picks and no other players in return for Iguodala.
It won't look sexy to the Philadelphia fans, but it is a business move that frees up $56.4 million over the next four seasons and allows Evan Turner to start now.
If a Trade Exception Isn't What You Want...Take Your Pick
If the 76ers feel that they would like a combination of players and expiring contracts to play out the season with, the Cleveland Cavaliers have those too.
The most veteran, scoring option would be Antawn Jamison, who only has two seasons at $13.3 million and $15 million remaining on the contract.
Jamison would be a dynamic stretch four option for the 76ers that could eventually be flipped to a contender around the trade deadline for a combination of other players.
Anthony Parker could also be included in a deal for Iguodala because of his $2.8 million expiring contract and veteran leadership that could be used to mentor the young Evan Turner.
Other players that could be packaged would be Leon Powe who has a one-year deal worth just under $1 million, Jamario Moon, who is making $2.9 million with a team option for next season, and Jawad Williams, who is making $1 million this season as well.
While these players are not the most attractive options for Philadelphia, a team that is rebuilding could use the salary cap relief that these players offer and any number of the draft picks that the Cleveland Cavaliers have as well.
So Which Deal Makes Sense for Philadelphia?
The Philadelphia fans are going to hate me for this one, but the trade exception deal is best for the organization.
When your team is going through a rebuild and is stuck with a ton of salary for the next few seasons, it does not make sense to attempt to add more players in return for Iguodala.
There will be deals out there that can add more young guys and contracts that expire within the next two years for Iguodala, but why would you want to add more to the unknown?
The 76ers need to find out what they have in their young cast of Evan Turner, Jrue Holliday, Thaddeus Young and company.
If they can remove $56.4 million without adding more to that mix, why wouldn't they?
Any deal for additional contracts means that you have players taking away minutes when you need to be opening up minutes for the young players to grow together.
This is why if Cleveland comes knocking with the trade exception and draft picks, Philadelphia should jump on the offer quickly.
Don't forget that the trade exception then becomes Philadelphia's and they have one year to use it for any player of their choosing.
Hold The Phone, Does Cleveland Want Iguodala?
This question is a little tougher to answer.
The Cavaliers have to look at their options for the next four years before they pull this trade.
Cleveland has never been a big draw for free agents, and the Cavaliers won't have that much cap room next season anyways.
So if the Cavaliers feel that Iguodala would be better than any other acquisition next season...do it.
But adding Iguodala's contract doesn't just change next season's outlook, it changes the next four.
Currently the Cavaliers have a salary cap situation that looks like this:
2010-2011: $52.2 million
2011-2012: $48.5 million
2012-2013: $21 million
2013-2014: $9.1 million
Obviously trading for Iguodala would inflate those years by $12.3, $13.5, $14.7, and $15.9 million respectively.
So taking on Iguodala's contract would take away from their free agent prospects in the 2012-2013 season when they are down to $21 million in cap room.
But let's be serious, this is Cleveland and we can't really attract big name free agents anyways, so who are they going to spend the money on?
And The Final Answer Is...
I'm not going to lie, when I first took on this project I was against the addition of Andre Iguodala and his $56.4 million over the next four seasons.
But when you weigh the pros and cons and the direction of the Cavaliers' organization, the move actually makes sense.
Iguodala would be a tough, gritty addition to the Cavaliers' up-tempo offense with Byron Scott.
He would not be asked to be the focal point of the offense; instead he would be asked to get to the basket, slash and play off the ball.
With Mo Williams running the point, Iguodala at shooting guard and J.J. Hickson at power forward, the Cleveland Cavaliers would have a nice three person core in their starting lineup.
Add in Anderson Varejao's sudden scoring ability and energy, and any production from Jamario Moon would be a bonus.
It would also allow Iguodala to lock down the other team's best scorer, and even allow him to slide down to the small forward position when the Cavaliers run their Mo Williams-Daniel Gibson combo in the back court.
Iguodala's positives in Cleveland outweigh the negatives that his contract brings.
The Cavaliers would be adding a 26-year-old starting shooting guard that actually fits with their offense, while not having to roll the dice in free agency.
They didn't even have to receive the trade exception when LeBron went to Miami, so using it to acquire Iguodala would be even better.
So overall, Philadelphia wants salary cap space and an opportunity to start Evan Turner, and the Cavaliers need a real starting shooting guard that fits with the team for years to come.
In the beginning I asked if the shoe fits...and it does.
So Let's Make a Deal!