It wasn’t a massive shock, teams with no cap space have found a way to finagle around that problem during many NBA offseasons, but it was a bit of a surprise when the Golden State Warriors beat out several other suitors for Andre Iguodala’s services in a sign and trade last summer. The Warriors entered the offseason with no cap room to work with, while employing several players with sizable deals like Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut, Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins. All with likely extensions to youngsters like Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson coming down the pike in years to come.
Seizing Utah’s interest in rebuilding, the Warriors found a way to dump Biedrins and Jefferson on Utah in a sign-and-trade deal, picking up Iguodala from the Denver Nuggets in the same transaction when it became clear that Dre did not want to be a part of the Nuggets’ new regime. It turns out that Iguodala didn’t really have to be won over on Mark Jackson’s team all that much – even while his Nuggets took on the Warriors in a first round playoff series loss.
It’s interesting, during one of the playoff games in Denver, I was sitting on the floor. It turned out per chance, that one of his cousins was sitting behind us. We introduced and got to know him during the first game. When we came back for the second game, he made it pretty clear that Andre liked the Warriors, liked the organization. Obviously, I couldn’t talk about that at the time, but when he did become a free agent, I didn’t have to sell a lot. He was pretty sold.
Things were dicey for a while there, though.
If you’ll recall, Iguodala was very close to signing a deal with the Dallas Mavericks just before the three-way trade that brought him to Golden State. Warriors GM Bob Myers admitted as much in an interview over the summer, and it’s a move that would have made sense – the Mavs were your typical cap space hoarding team looking to make a big splash, while the Warriors were capped out.
Luckily for Golden State, however, Utah stepped up to the plate in offering to take the expiring contracts of Biedrins and Jefferson off their hands for the final year of their massive deals, with Golden State compensating the rebuilding Jazz with a series of draft picks in return. It was a win-win for either team, even if the Jazz are currently winless, because they’ll be flush with cap room themselves this summer as a result, with plenty of coveted draft picks to work with.
Golden State will not be flush with cap space, but that doesn’t mean they’re not incredibly happy with their current roster. Even if luxury tax concerns force the team into deciding between Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson to extend at some point.
Even as a member of the Nuggets, a team that finished with 57 strong wins while winning the since-let go George Karl and Masai Ujiri the Coach and Executive Of the Year Awards, it wasn’t strange for Iguodala to be smitten with Golden State. The Nuggets were already falling apart during that first round series, with injuries to Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried putting a damper on what they hoped would be a long playoff run. Golden State was and is a young, exciting and close basketball team with very good chemistry. On top of that, it’s not as if Iguodala (dealt to Denver just nine months before) had been a Nugget for life.
This is why Iguodala fell in love with Golden State, and it’s certainly why he dismissed Denver after Karl and Ujiri were shown the door (for various reasons) before the free agency period sparked up. Dallas, who at 5-3 has the same early record as Golden State, isn’t exactly a dog – but the two franchises were in much different places last July.
Or even in April, when Andre’s cousin let it be known what he was thinking.
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