SAN FRANCISCO -- Ahead of his first game against former team, Miami Heat forward Andre Iguodala said he didn't know how to feel about facing the Warriors
"I think that's always a surprise," Iguodala said about an hour before Monday's matchup. "It's hard to really gauge that. I had one in Philly, I had one in Denver, so it's hard to gauge how it's going to be."
Though an opponent, the Warriors planned a celebration for an integral part of their championship run. As he spoke pregame, a picture of the three-time champion holding his NBA Finals MVP trophy along the shores of Oakland's Lake Merritt illuminated behind him. Before the game, the Warriors showed a video tribute for Iguodala before the forward addressed the crowd.
Iguodala's current status comes after months of idle time. Last summer, he was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies, to make a sign-and-trade for D'Angelo Russell work. Upon departure, he reached an agreement with Memphis to sit out as the Grizzlies looked to trade the veteran forward elsewhere, letting him stay in the Bay Area as he collected his $17.2 million salary. His tenure in Memphis ended last week when he was dealt to the Heat in exchange for Justice Winslow and Dion Waiters. Shortly after the trade, Iguodala signed a two-year, $30 million with the Heat in a controversial move.
"It was interesting. It just doesn't happen as often," Iguodala explained. "It's a lot of posturing that goes on behind the scenes and different types of people protecting their standpoint and just being in the position I am, trying to make the most of my time away from basketball. And that's all I was trying to do."
Despite Iguodala's preseason agreement with Memphis, the Grizzlies players expressed discontent with the 36-year old's decision not to join the team despite Memphis' postseason aspirations, including guards Dillon Brooks and Ja Morant.
“I can't wait until we find a way to trade him," Brooks said last week. "So we can play him and show him really what Memphis is about.”
Following Brooks' comments, Morant retweeted a link to the video with a yelling emoji. Nonetheless, Iguodala maintained he had no ill towards the Grizzlies.
"No real feelings," he said. "Just understanding the lay of the land, understanding where different voices come from and it might not be direct. Just understanding there are ways to get messages to folks without it being in the media and I love all those guys. Dillon's been playing really well this year and Ja is rookie of the year [and] phenomenal talent."
While Iguodala's Heat is primed for playoff contention this season, his former team is in transition. With Iguodala and Durant gone, and Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson injured, the Warriors entered Monday's matchup with the league's worst record. Still, Iguodala said he continues to talk to former teammates and expects Golden State to be back in contention soon.
"They've had a lot of injuries and it's kind of like hitting the reset button," he said. "I think the coaches and front office have done a good job of not panicking, understanding the situation, trying to help the young guys. I've been keeping tabs on my guys, seeing how they were doing, checking in with Steph and checking in with Klay whenever I can him."