It’s not how anyone imagined Andre Iguodala making his Chase Center debut. He’ll be wearing the wrong color, the wrong number, playing for the wrong team. And yet, there he’ll be, facing off against Draymond Green, who vowed Monday morning to commit a “flagrant two” (ejection-resulting) foul on Iguodala as soon as he possibly could.
After a season of sitting on the sidelines and having been criticized by his young Memphis Grizzlies teammates in Ja Morant (age 20) and Dillon Brooks (age 24) for a perceived abandoning of a now-eighth-seeded Grizzlies team (27-26), Iguodala wound up on the Miami Heat (34-18), currently fourth in the Eastern Conference, and earned a two-year, $30 million contract extension with a second-year team option.
Iguodala, who’s the vice president of the NBA Player’s Association, has long been focused on his life after the NBA and pursuing business endeavors (much of his time spent away from the Grizzlies was attending business seminars and working from his office in San Francisco) like tech investments. He stressed that understanding of the NBA being a business on Monday.
No hard feelings on Warriors trade, Iguodala saw it coming
After the roughly six days he had following the draft to meet his new teammates, Iguodala was traded to Memphis so the Warriors could clear cap space to acquire D’Angelo Russell.
He said he saw it coming.
“I had a [Tony] Romo moment. I think I sniffed it out before it happened,” Iguodala said. “I’ve been around the game for a while, you know, you kind of see how things have played and you see how a domino effect can happen, you know, my free agency coming to the Warriors, there was a domino effect with Dwight Howard. You know, and he was kind of delaying his decision which kind of delayed my decision and ultimately helped the Warriors get an opportunity to get a sign-and-trade deal where they were able to move contracts and fly me in.
So understanding the lay of free agency, how things work and that domino effect, anything can happen and I wasn’t surprised, I understood the business move about it. And like we were talking, you know, just young guys understand how this is business league and a superstars league as well. So when certain things happen, you got to be prepared for kind of any type of move.”
On the Grizzlies trade and anger from young teammates
Iguodala was never going to play for the Grizzlies and repeatedly stated that there was a mutual agreement between him and the front office that he wouldn’t be asked to play (as was pretty obvious by the fact that Iguodala was allowed to stay away from the team and collect paychecks).
“I can’t wait til we find a way to trade him so we can play him and show him really what Memphis is about,” said Brooks, with Morant amplifying that statement on Twitter and Stephen Curry coming to defend Iguodala.
Ever the statesman, Iguodala declined to engage online, but hinted that there were probably better ways to deal with the feelings of the situation. He complimented both Brooks and Morant, and co-opted a Marshawn Lynch-ism.
“No real feelings, just understanding the lay of the land, understanding where different voices come from,” Iguodala said. “And just understanding that there are ways to get messages across without being in the media.
And I love all those guys, to watch them play. Dylan’s been playing really well this year. And Jah’s rookie of the year, a phenomenal talent. I think I saw a post that said, who would you start your team, franchise with at point guard and I would have voted for him as well. So excited for the Jah’s career and what he’s going to be able to accomplish for the next 10, 15 years and Dylan just signed a three-year deal so happy for him. Save your money young fella, take care of your chicken and your mentals…
My intentions were never trying to keep from playing with a particular set of basketball players. I think that could have been miscommunicated throughout the process. But just having an agreement with the team, trying to figure out what’s the best move for both parties and try to come out and have an outcome where both parties are satisfied.”
One last point: the return.
Iguodala said he’s had a pair of returns, one in Philadelphia with the 76ers and one with the Nuggets in Denver. The latter, where he was criticized for not playing his hardest and for having his sights set on Golden State the following year, went much worse than the former.
“It’s always a surprise,” Iguodala said of returning to a home Warriors crowd. “I had one in Philly. I had one in Denver, uhh… but hopefully [this one will be] good.”
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