How Andre Iguodala's imminent decision to play, retire alters Warriors' future

·4 min read

How Andre's imminent decision could impact Warriors' future originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

With Dub Nation wading hip-deep in speculation about his future with the Warriors, Andre Iguodala has been deliberately vague. Why? Because it’s good for business.

He has a podcast, "Point Forward," with former 76ers teammate and co-host Evan Turner. Both understand the value of a promotional tease.

Iguodala dropped one last week, indicating his decision will become public through the podcast, which typically is released on Fridays. With the Warriors opening training camp next week, the logical assumption is he’ll address the matter before Saturday.

“I will be making my -- what’s a synonym for decision? -- announcement, stake my future, on Point Forward. How about that?” he said last Friday. “I’ll be making it from here, Point Forward, whether I’m taking my talents back to the Warriors, or taking my talents somewhere else or taking my Black a— home.”

The Warriors want Andre back. An open roster spot awaits, with the hope that, at age 38, he will give them one more year.

The Warriors are not deeply concerned with Iguodala’s individual stats, or many regular-season games he might miss, or how often he will be excused from practice. His significance is better measured by intangibles, by what he can offer various elements of the team.

Coach Steve Kerr and his staff perceive Iguodala as a player they can deploy strategically and a treasured resource with which to exchange ideas.

Veterans Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson consider Andre a friend and teammate they trust will bring smarts on and off the court -- and is perfectly comfortable injecting a dose of sober reality.

But it’s the Golden State youngsters who need Iguodala most, even if they might not don’t fully realize it.

It’s the latest group of rookies, Patrick Baldwin Jr., Ryan Rollins and Gui Santos. More pointedly, it’s the under-25s already introduced to the ways of the league: Jordan Poole, Moses Moody, James Wiseman and, particularly, Jonathan Kuminga. They represent the next phase of the Warriors, and Iguodala’s mentorship would be invaluable.

For that reason, Iguodala’s decision conceivably could have an impact on the future of the franchise.

Kuminga is a special project insofar as he possesses a physique built for greatness and off-the-charts athleticism but is the biggest uncut diamond. The internal concern about his commitment to develop and refine his raw skills is not expressed openly but in what is said about the others.

Even when Poole was struggling as a rookie and early in his second season, there were emphatic and unanimous raves about his work ethic. The same is being said of Moody. It is whispered of Wiseman, too, but generally at a lower volume. Rarely is it said of Kuminga.

Put simply, the Warriors already are convinced that some of their young players will put in the grunt work to maximize their ability, while merely remaining hopeful that others do the same under the supervision of the coaching and development staffs.

Iguodala has no interest in such a position. If he can’t play, he’ll walk.

“The thing that I don’t want to see misconstrued, or I don’t want the perception thrown out there, is that I’m a coach,” he told NBC Sports Bay Area in July.

Should Iguodala return to the Warriors, his role will be that of a player-mentor -- a player because it’s what he wants, a mentor because that’s what the team’s youngsters need.

Iguodala wouldn’t come back for the money because he’s earning much more from his business ventures than from a salary about 10 percent more than the $2.6 million veteran’s minimum he picked up last season.

He wouldn’t come back for the nutrition and fitness programs because that’s long been a part of his lifestyle.

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If Andre decides to return, it’s because he wants to stay in the game -- he’d consider a post-career executive role -- still has something to offer, and his family is on board with the decision.

“I’ve got a son who is in high school and two little girls,” he told me earlier this summer. “I’m trying to make sure that I can at least have some type of presence. As a player, you can have a presence with the family.”

If Iguodala decides to retire, he’ll be missed by his coaches and teammates. If he decides to return, he’ll get a warm welcome from those same people. Because they understand the benefits of his presence.

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