Exclusive: Warriors' Andre Iguodala says 'I’m going to be done soon' in NBA

Exclusive: Warriors' Andre Iguodala says 'I’m going to be done soon' in NBA

OAKLAND – Andre Iguodala is counting down the remaining years of his NBA career. No need to count the days or weeks, because others have been doing that since, oh, about 2015.

“I’m going to be done soon,” he told NBC Sports Bay Area this week. “I could probably play a legit five more years, but I’ll probably max out at three more after this year – maybe three more.

“But if I’m not here, that will weigh heavily on what I will do. I possibly have another year here – if we win. That’s it. I know that. I’m fine with it.”

Possibly? Reminded that he is under contract for the 2019-20 season, at 17.2 million, the final year of the three-year, $48 million deal he signed in July 2017, Iguodala waves it off.

“That’s if we win,” he said. “If not . . .”

Iguodala is in his 14th NBA season. He is the oldest Warrior, two months from turning 35. This is his fifth season out of the starting lineup and the third during which his minutes will be monitored by the training staff. He has reached the career stage when NBA players begin wondering about their athletic mortality, leading to the questions most would prefer to dodge.

How much longer can I do it? Am I still making an impact? Do talent evaluators believe in me? Does my team appreciate me?

The Warriors appreciate Iguodala. His intellect and chameleon-like ability to adapt to circumstance and devote his energy to what the team needs at that moment have endeared him to coach Steve Kerr. His teammates marvel about Iguodala’s value being beyond the quantifiable. Don’t look at the numbers, they say. Watch the game.

[RELATED: Andre Iguodala explains why he likes but doesn't enjoy playing in NBA]

It’s certainly true that no member of the Warriors is subjected to more debate about his significance. Some believe he’s overpaid; his salary ranks fourth among players that opened the season as reserves. Others are convinced he’s well worth the money as long as the championships keep coming.

“Perception can become reality for people in the position of filing out rosters, like GMs,” Iguodala said. “Sometimes, perception is their reality, even when it’s wrong. It could mess up someone’s perception of you, what they think of you as a player. They say, ‘Oh, he is done.’ That is really hard. I don’t really worry about it.

“But at the same time, it is a thing. I know it’s out there. But at this point, I know I’m still pretty good. I really believe that. But if people don’t know that, I’ll just be like, ‘OK, I’m done playing.’ ”

If it seems Iguodala has something to prove – or believes he has something to prove – it’s because that’s his nature. He’s a watcher and listener. He can’t ignore the noise because he needs to be prepared for anything. As much as he may want to silence skeptics, he realizes stepping out of character would disrupt the balance of the most successful NBA team since the Lakers of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

For the Warriors to prosper, they need Iguodala to do handle details both complex and obscure, particularly in big moments.

[RELATED: Andre Iguodala references Kobe-Shaq when asked about Draymond-Durant]

“It’s all about that balance,” he said. “Sometimes, I have to be the guy that says, ‘OK, we’ve got to play the right way.’ If that means I’ve got to pass up some shots to make sure everybody else is in the right flow, has the right mindset and is getting their touches, so be it – as long as I know that’s going to help us in the long run.”

Iguodala has started the past seven games, the first three at point guard and the last four at small forward. Few players in the league are asked to handle both duties in a season, much less in the same week. It’s an assignment he accepts because, well, now it’s working.

He also knows this is temporary, that he may return to the bench when Stephen Curry returns, likely this week, and certainly will go back to his Sixth Man role when Draymond Green returns, likely next week.

“We will still have to get back to finding our comfort zone within different roles,” Iguodala said. “A lot of guys on the second unit have been very aggressive, and we needed that. But with me going back to the second unit, I’ll have to be aggressive. Being in the starting lineup, I kind of tailored it back.

“It’s kind of like I’m itching to go back to the second unit.”

Why? Because that means the Warriors as projected will be intact. Iguodala can get back into his routine, coming off the bench to add the missing ingredient while wondering how many minutes he has before his career clock hits zeroes.

DeMarcus Cousins explains his mindset in return to NBA, Warriors debut

DeMarcus Cousins explains his mindset in return to NBA, Warriors debut

DeMarcus Cousins isn’t concerned about what others might think about him. Yes, he’s stubborn, he admits, and he’ll be even more so when he returns to the court Friday night with the Warriors.

“Absolutely. Absolutely,” Cousins told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in a sit-down interview this week.

The six-time All-Star center’s recovery from his Achilles injury has taken a year, and when he steps on the court at Staples Center against the Clippers, the Warriors hope he’ll solve their riddle in the middle. Whether or not he can perform at the expected level depends on how his Achilles holds up, so Cousins sought counsel from Basketball Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins, who suffered a similar injury during his storied career.

“He just basically tells me to attack it,” Cousins said. “Once you realize you are healed, like, don't think about it. Just go forward. …

“One thing that Dominique also spoke on is -- they don't know your heart, and they don't know your drive. So you know, the people that do know me, they know I can be very stubborn. I don't like to be proved wrong.”

[RELATED: Why Boogie believes Warriors are most hated team in sports]

Cousins, however, hopes to prove people wrong, even if he can’t change their minds about who he is, with his history of outburst and technical fouls mixed with prolific scoring and routine double-doubles.

"I can't live worrying about what the next man thinks,” Cousins said. “I know who I am as a person. And the people that matter around me know who I am. So, it is what it is.”

Let the fun begin …

Warriors 'witnessing greatness' as Steph Curry goes off to beat Pelicans

Warriors 'witnessing greatness' as Steph Curry goes off to beat Pelicans

OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry came off a double screen inching closer to the 3-point line, but still well beyond it. The Warriors point guard still couldn’t find open space.

New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis came bearing down, with a long arm aimed to disrupt his shooting motion.

That sure seemed like a low percentage shot. Not for Steph. Not during a torrid third quarter where he simply couldn’t miss.

If that was a heat check, it proved Curry was still scalding. Jaws dropped when that one went through, as part of a surge that lifted the Warriors to a 147-140 win over the Pelicans at Oracle Arena.

Curry had 41 points on the night, with 23 in a third quarter where he went 7-of-8 from beyond the arc.

Many of those were fantasy shots for most. They are practiced, often coreographed and at times perfected by the NBA’s finest distance shooter.

“Sometimes, when you get hot like that, you can’t see anything but the rim,” Curry said. “You just try to stay on balance and get to your spot, wherever that is. Again, these are shots I work on. I have confidence in them. I know my teammates do.”

Kevin Durant’s a rare talent in his own right, and even he has to stop and applaud.

“He’s a once-in-a-generation, once-in-a-lifetime talent, and his movements are so smooth that he makes it look so easy,” Durant said, after scoring 30 points of his own. “When he’s knocking down those shots, it’s just a joy to see.”

Curry was virtually unstoppable in the second half, securing his sixth 40-point game of the season by hitting 11-of-22 shots, including 9-of-17 from three-point range.

The Warriors matched a franchise record with 24 three-pointers made on a franchise record 49 attempts. They’ve ramped up their 3-point efforts lately, something opposing teams have done while trying to beat Golden State in a season that has featured more close games then usual for the defending champs.

[RELATED: Warriors, Pelicans break Golden State's own 3-point record]

Head coach Steve Kerr cited No. 30 being healthy again for this 3-point surge.

“Steph just changes the whole equation,” Kerr said. “It really does come down to Steph being back, because the tempo goes back up. He shot 17 threes tonight. That’s the difference. He’s going to get a ton of them up.”

Some of them are standard, open shots taken close to the 3-point line. Others, however, would seem wacky taken by most everyone else.

Curry going on crazy runs is commonplace around these parts, but even other sharpshooters still marvel at his shots and their at-times shocking degree of difficulty.

“It’s incredible,” fellow guard Klay Thompson said. “Pull up off the dribble from 30-plus feet -- it’s insane. I’m witnessing greatness.”