Andre Iguodala has been the subject of trade rumors and speculation for the past two years, and for good reason.
Whatever team acquires the Philadelphia 76ers' versatile small forward will be gaining a bona-fide NBA superstar. That is, of course, assuming there is an NBA season in 2011-12, and the Sixers wish to deal the former seventh overall pick.
When a new CBA is signed and trades resume, here are six teams that should come calling for Iguodala's services.
Let the speculation begin (well, continue).
The Magic have been trying for years to get the championship recipe right. They've tried adding defensive-minded players, adding versatile wingers, trading for enigmatic superstar guards and more. None of it has worked out. Perhaps a new approach is needed.
If the Magic were to trade for Iguodala, they would boast one of the most athletic frontcourt tandems in the entire NBA. They'd have a pair of elite, lockdown defenders—one on the inside (Howard) and one on the outside (Iguodala). They'd be able to match up extremely well with their cross-state rivals, the Miami Heat. They'd be legitimate contenders in the East.
Offensively, Iguodala could more than replace the likely losses of Jason Richardson and Gilbert Arenas. He is a pure point forward who would be more than capable of getting the ball to Howard exactly when and where the big man wants it.
Tack on Iguodala's own scoring and slashing ability and you have a player who can instantly turn the Magic into a matchup nightmare.
The Thunder made tremendous progress in 2010-11, reaching the Western Conference finals before falling to the eventual NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks. The team's young dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will return next season ready to take the next step. And the Thunder management should give them a hand by acquiring Andre Iguodala.
Iguodala would fill a key need for the Thunder: an athletic, versatile small forward who can play shutdown defense on anyone in the NBA. Iguodala would provide yet another threat on the fast break, a point forward who can get Durant the ball when and where he needs it, and a solid offensive player in the half-court set.
One of the most prominent criticisms of Iguodala is his inability to be "the guy" for an NBA team. In OKC, he wouldn't have to be—Kevin Durant already is "the man." All Iguodala would have to do is play his game and let Durant and Westbrook play theirs. He said he wants to play for an NBA title—playing for the Thunder, he'll have plenty of opportunities.
Hear me out for a minute.
The Bulls are already one of the best defensive teams in basketball. They already have the league MVP in Derrick Rose. They already have a strong group of wing players. They were right on the cusp of the NBA finals last season and will likely be back next year.
Adding Iguodala would put the Bulls over the hump. He is a player that can play lockdown defense on LeBron James, the primary reason the Bulls were playing golf while the Heat were melting against the Mavericks in the NBA Finals.
Imagine how much better Derrick Rose could be with a perimeter threat like Iguodala playing alongside him. Imagine how many more terrific looks Carlos Boozer and company would receive if Iguodala were able to play the point forward role for the Bulls. Imagine how much better the Bulls defense would be after adding one of the best defenders in the NBA.
It's scary. Iguodala would likely cost the Bulls a fortune, but it'd be worth it. LeBron James would bother them no more.
I'll admit this is crazy. It's so crazy it just might work.
The Heat came so close to capturing the NBA title in 2010-2011. They have almost all of the key pieces already in place. They just need a player like Iguodala—a lockdown defender who can distribute the ball effectively on offense.
Iguodala is a much better passer than LeBron. He's a much more generous player with the ball than LeBron (except during the fourth quarter, for whatever reason). He's a guy that would turn the Big 3 into the Fantastic Four. And that sounds so much better.
A lineup with Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Andre Iguodala would be near-impossible to contain on either end of the court. As a bonus, none of the other teams looking to add Iguodala in order to better defend the Heat would be able to.
Mark Cuban and the rest of the world champion Dallas Mavericks did not get to where they are today by sitting on their laurels while their opponents were improving.
The more I think about this, the more I believe the Mavericks would be the perfect team for Iguodala. They already have an established Batman in need of a new Robin. They already play a system that relies on passing, defense, and scoring in transition—all things Iguodala does extremely well.
Adding a player like Iguodala to the best team in basketball would only make them better. He'd improve their already excellent defense, provide their offense with yet another weapon, and give them the all-around athleticism they currently lack.
The rich could get richer by acquiring Iguodala. And if any owner in the NBA knows how to make the impossible happen, it's Mark Cuban.
Let the speculation begin.
Thankfully, the Iguodala-for-Ellis trade speculation has died down quite a bit.
I understand why both teams were interested, but at the same time, I don't think it was the perfect match for either player. The Sixers already have a Monta Ellis-clone in Lou Williams. They have tremendous depth at the shooting guard spot with Williams and former No. 2 overall pick Evan Turner. They don't really need another guard that's going to take too many shots.
The Warriors do need a player like Iguodala—a guy that can play shutdown defense, consistently set up teammates and join the fast break.
If this trade does happen, the Sixers should ask for a different return. They need a center who can actually playa young wing player, a young power forward with lots of upside or some high draft selections. They don't need Monta Ellis—they already have a lesser version of him in Lou Williams.
This is pure speculation (like many of these slides), but it does make a bit of sense.
The Bucks are worried about keeping Bogut around long-term. The Sixers desperately need a center they can build around for the future. Could this be a match?
The Sixers would likely have to send Iguodala and either Nikola Vucevic or some draft picks to the Bucks to get this deal done, but it could be worth it for both teams.
The Sixers would finally have a true franchise center (sorry, Spencer Hawes) to go along with their young core of Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young.
The Bucks would have an excellent winger under their control for a few more seasons, a young and talented big man and more draft picks. Everyone wins.