According to multiple reports this afternoon, Denver Nuggets star combo forward Andre Iguodala will opt out of the final year of his contract — which would have paid him $16.1 million next season — and declare free agency.
On the surface it seems insane anyone would turn down a hefty one-year deal, in essence, to test the open waters and hope a better deal comes along, but Iguodala isn’t just anyone. The time will come when Iguodala’s new deal will pay him what he would have made this summer in Denver, it may just require a short-term sacrifice of a season for a team which doesn’t have the cap space to pay him max money in 2013, but does down the road.
If you place Iguodala in the class of free agent small forwards available this summer, his name rises to the top of the list with only one guy in competition. Paul Pierce is the only other high-profile free agent with name value among this group, and the type of teams looking to add Pierce in a short-term role will not mirror those who will benefit from Iguodala’s services over the long-term.
The initial assumption must be Iguodala is searching for a max contract which will lead him into the downslope of a very productive career — hardly a move which is untested. A max deal will strain many of the teams which could be players in the free agency market this summer, but others are sure to lick their chops at the idea.
Whoever grabs Andre Igoudala will have a force on their hands, a game-changer who is always a pest on the defensive side of the ball, and on good nights, very difficult to stop on the offensive side. Denver showcased this variety of talent in fits and starts, but it always seemed like something wasn’t clicking.
On a team where Igoudala can fit into the fabric and not be expected to carry a heavy load, he could flourish, and again show what was expected of him during his time with the Philadelphia 76ers early in his career.
Could he be the missing piece for a team like the New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, or Cleveland Cavaliers who each need some toughness and athleticism on the wing to continue to trend upward and get back in the mix in their respective conferences?
Regardless, the bidding frenzy will reach a fevered pitch for “Iggy” by later this month as NBA free agency reaches its peak.