Chris Tomasson, former Nuggets beat writer for the Rocky Mountain News now with Fox Sports, is reporting that Andre Iguodala is leaning towards opting out of his contract this summer, forgoing the roughly $16 million remaining on his final year in favor of a longer term deal which offers more security.
Tomasson also reports that it’s not a sure thing Iguodala will remain in Denver:
As for Iguodala’s NBA future, he doesn’t know where he’ll be playing. [...]
“Yeah, definitely,’’ Iguodala, 29, said of [opting out and signing a long-term contract]. “You got to weigh options. Security-wise, a player would opt out, especially with the type of season we’ve had as a team. Teams know what I can bring to them, and I know (the Nuggets) know what I can bring to a team here. [...]
Iguodala said it’s no guarantee he would re-sign with Denver if he does the expected and opts out. But he has liked the progress the Nuggets (50-24) have made recently…
There is much more to Tomasson’s report, including Iguodala’s interest in playing again for Team USA both at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Please click here and check out the article in its entirety at FoxSportsFlorida.com.
Retaining Iguodala should be offseason priority number one for Masai Ujiri and the Nuggets front office. Denver is currently 11th in the league in defensive efficiency after ending up at 19th last season, and it’s hard to underestimate the importance Andre has played in that improvement.
Of course, that all depends on how much he actually wants to stay with the Nuggets. He has been very consistent in his comments this season that staying in Denver would be his preference, but polite diplomacy doesn’t mean much in the NBA when it comes to real desires and intentions.
If it turns out to be the case that Iguodala wants to “take his talents” elsewhere, he will be an unrestricted free agent if he opts out, and there’s really no leverage that the Nuggets hold (as there was in the Carmelo Anthony trade) to prevent losing him for nothing.
Though “nothing” may be too strong, since if he left it would unburden the Nuggets of a major chunk of salary, giving them more leeway in free agency and in re-signing players like Kenneth Faried who are not far off from graduating from rookie contracts.
Still, it’s difficult to imagine how much more often we would cringe than we already do at Denver’s perimeter defense if Andre were no longer around to anchor it down.
Reading between the lines, it may be the case that playoff success could be the key to keeping Iguodala:
“My main goal is, if we win here, everything will take care of itself, no matter what,’’ Iguodala said. “I want to play for a team where I have an impact on the game without even scoring … I feel like if I win (with the Nuggets), I won’t have to worry about having to prove my worth.
It’s noncommittal, and at this stage all we can do is speculate, but it seems reasonable to infer that a reasonably deep playoff run and a respectable long-term deal from Ujiri just might be enough to persuade Iguodala to stick around.