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The first signal that the Warriors were on the verge of something special began not with Stephen Curry, who was on the roster when Joe Lacob and Peter Guber assembled an ownership group determined to revive this sagging franchise.

It wasn’t with the addition of Jerry West, or the hiring of Mark Jackson, either. They were shrewd moves to address a tattered league-wide perception.

No, the first indication that the Warriors would become players in the NBA came in July 2013, when Andre Iguodala dismissed a superior contract with another team and authorized a sign-and-trade deal that resulted in less money to become a Warrior.

No player with legitimate NBA credibility ever took less to join the Warriors.

Iguodala did. After one season with the Denver Nuggets -- a No. 3 seed ousted in the first round by the sixth-seeded Warriors -- he slow-walked past a $52 million offer sheet extended by the Sacramento Kings and dived into a sign-and-trade with the Warriors that gave him a $48 million contract.

The Warriors won 51 games in 2013-14. They won 67 the following season, which ended with the franchise’s first NBA championship in 40 years -- and Iguodala was the Finals MVP. They won 73 games, setting an NBA record, in 2015-16 but lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in The Finals. They won back-to-back league titles in 2017 and 2018.

Iguodala was a member of the Warriors for six seasons, five of which ended in The Finals, with three championships. He was a core member of a trend-setting team that arguably is the most successful of the 21st century.


Sunday's reported trade of Iguodala to the Memphis Grizzlies was the loudest signal of all that the Warriors are ending the era. Kevin Durant’s free-agent departure to the Nets, while obviously notable, doesn’t have the same emotional impact because KD wasn’t with the team during its rise. He simply helped the Warriors reach loftier heights.

Iguodala, though, was connective tissue that made so many things work. He lubricated the offense in times of stagnation, piling up assists and secondary assists. He often made big shots on offense, and perhaps more often prevented them on defense. He, along with Draymond Green, worked as twin blankets, covering vast expanses of floor space. They were the touchstones of the so-called "Death Lineup,” as well as the “Hamptons 5.”

Moreover, Iguodala was the old wise man of the club, the “adult in the room,” as coach Steve Kerr often said.

Sources around the team and the league have been dropping hints that this would be a summer of transition. The Warriors need to add youth now, even if it means losing a few more games. Instances of load management would be curbed, which meant Iguodala could be on the move.

Any realistic chance of winning a championship in 2020 evaporated in recent weeks, as Klay Thompson and Durant both went down with major injuries.

Iguodala, who's 35 and scheduled to make $17.2 million in the final year of his contract, was given notice by the Warriors a few days after The Finals that he definitely might be traded – particularly if Durant, an unrestricted free agent, moved on.

[RELATED: Haberstroh explains how Russell deal signals Dubs rebrand]

KD moved on Sunday afternoon, to Brooklyn. Iguodala was dealt a few hours later, allowing the Warriors to accommodate, for now, the salary of D’Angelo Russell.

It’s a business, and nobody in the Warriors' locker room in recent seasons knows that better than Iguodala. He completed his assignment with the Warriors and moves on.