Sometimes, in the quiet moments after the locker room had cleared and he was in no hurry, Andre Iguodala would settle in and share theories about everything from race to economics to politics to the motives of sports franchises.
Never eat beans. Never let people know what you have. Read “Red Notice.” System ain’t changing, so you gotta find a way to make it work for you and your family. Always know who has your back and who don’t. They (the Warriors) probably don’t want back after this year.
This was during the 2017-18 season, more than a year before Iguodala was traded to Memphis in a move he never accepted and Warriors coach Steve Kerr described as a “gut punch.” Kerr was told of the trade but was conflicted about losing his closest ally in the locker room.
Iguodala is the only member of the original core four – along with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson – to be dealt away.
Well, two years later, the Warriors wanted Andre back and he decided Friday to return. One last run. He’s older, wiser and ready to close his career while also helping the team’s promising young players.
Iguodala announced to the New York Times his intention to sign a one-year contract for the veteran’s minimum in what will be his seventh season with the Warriors and his 18th and final season in the NBA.
The Warriors gain a locker room sage, their fans gain a longtime favorite, Kerr gains an unofficial assistant coach, Stephen Curry gains a confidant and golf buddy and the team’s playing rotation gains an experienced wing capable of making an impact in appearances at critical times.
It’s entirely conceivable that Iguodala, at least to begin the season, will be in Golden State’s closing lineup.
Make no mistake, though. At 37, Iguodala knows better than anyone that he is not the player he was four years ago, much less the highly effective force he was in winning the 2015 NBA Finals MVP award. It's harder to dodge minor aches, and the threat of injury rises by the hour.
Though his overall shooting efficiency has declined in each of the last three seasons, from 50.0 percent to 43.2 to 38.3, his playmaking ability remains solid, as does his savant-like grasp of team defense. After two seasons in Miami, the Warriors will ask Iguodala to accentuate his strengths while playing 12-16 minutes.
They’ll also ask him to get into the heads of rookie wings Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, as well as second-year center James Wiseman. The Warriors are high on all three, and want to capitalize on Iguodala’s willingness to share everything from basketball tips to dietary advice to fitness discipline, all of which were sharpened during his time in the driven culture of the Heat.
“The way that they develop their younger players in making sure they have the proper approach to how they’re doing their job is second to none," Iguodala told The TImes. "And I really appreciated that because there’s a fine line between your superstar and your eighth, ninth guy coming off the bench. And all of our guys were always ready.”
Though Iguodala’s return of Iguodala is tinged with nostalgia, odds are against the Warriors marching into the NBA Finals, much less winning it. This is about providing a bit of help now, influencing what’s to come and allowing a graceful exit for a franchise legend.