LAGUNA SECA – Standing in a quiet space away from the roar of IndyCar engines, Andre Iguodala is willing to share some of the stories and thoughts that have transpired in the 12 weeks since the Warriors traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies.
For example: There are times, he admits, when he forgets he no longer a Warrior, the voice of wisdom among former teammates Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney, as well as coach Steve Kerr and general manager Bob Myers.
Another example: There have been conversations with his new team – a buyout is not inconceivable – though he has yet to go to Memphis.
Iguodala explains that his presence at the racetrack festivities Sunday probably goes back to childhood, when his father, a NASCAR fan, would hijack the TV on Sundays and leave his sons and everyone else to pick up a book or watch along with him.
Iguodala relishes telling one Warriors story in particular, which developed in the days before and after the trade. He finds it funny. In a dark and surreal way, it is.
“Yo, I got this crazy story,” Iguodala tells NBC Sports Bay Area. “No one knows. No one knows this story. But I have a sense that something is going down; Bob Myers and I are pretty cool. We have our conversations, so we’re on the same page. It was, ‘It might happen, but it might not. Most likely, it will. So, we’ll see.’
“So, I’m texting my wife, telling her I’ll probably get traded because I think it’s 100 percent sure, even though everyone else is saying, it’s only a chance. Then, once KD (Kevin Durant) left, I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’ll probably get traded. They’re probably going to do a sign-and-trade, so they can get something back, to at least get assets for him.’ No one was thinking that. But I was thinking they’ll want to get assets back because they can’t just let him go. And they’ll probably move me as well. So, she asked me where I thought I would go. I said, ‘I don’t know, I’ll probably end up in Memphis or some s--t.’
“She says, ‘For real?’ I was like, ‘Maybe. But probably not. I don’t know.’
“The next day, I got the message. It was Memphis. I fell out laughing.”
A massive grin crosses Iguodala’s face. He likes this story and still has the text exchange with his wife, Christina, on his phone.
Citing the business of basketball and insisting he’s always aware of that aspect, he says he was not surprised by the trade. But it’s evident he’s not exactly eager to join the Grizzlies.
“We’ll see,” he says. “OK, maybe I shouldn’t say we’ll see. But we’re trying to figure out things on both sides. They’re trying to figure out some things, and I’m trying to figure out some things. As of today, we’re on the same page. Camp opens the next week. We’ll see. We’re on the same page though.”
Is Iguodala ready to move on? Not quite. Too soon.
Iguodala spent most of the summer in the Bay Area, where he was a Warrior for six seasons, reaching the NBA Finals in the last five and winning three championships during the run. He also plans to live in the Bay Area for at least the next five or six years, no matter which jersey he wears when the NBA season begins next month.
There has been talk of a buyout deal with the Grizzlies. There also have been reports that Memphis does not plan to go that route. Asked if a buyout still is possible, Iguodala neither confirms nor denies the likelihood. Rather, he states his position on the matter.
“At this point, the only buyout that makes sense -- if I’m speaking on someone else’s behalf, thinking as an agent -- is you don’t leave money on the table,” he says. “Especially in this league. Because you’ll never get it back, no matter what people say. Negotiations are a tactic, so you’ve got to be careful how you approach it, or how you verbalize what you would do going forward. But you can’t leave anything on the table.”
This is the man who left $4 million on the table six years ago, when he joined the Warriors. The Sacramento Kings had presented an offer sheet worth $52 million over four years. The Nuggets and Warriors reached a sign-and-trade agreement, with Iguodala signing a four-year contract worth $48 million.
This indicates Iguodala is willing to make concessions -- if he believes it’s worth it.
He chose the Warriors and enjoyed six seasons. From starter to Sixth Man to occasional starter -- see the 2015 NBA Finals, for which he was named MVP -- and always a coach on the floor and at practice, Iguodala accepted his roles and thrived.
“It was something special,” he says. “But I’m not the type to really reflect and enjoy because right now everything is about what’s next. I know it means more than I realize right now. I just haven’t been to sit back and say, ‘Yo, this was amazing.’ Everything has been focused on what’s next. There are so many things I want to accomplish that I haven’t been able to. But I know in 10 or 15 years, I can look back and say, ‘Yo, that was crazy.’
“But the relationships, with Steph and Klay and Draymond and KD and Shaun and Steve, the front office. Those things are special.”
When Iguodala saw Curry last Monday at TPC Harding Park for Curry’s benefit golf tournament, they talked about the usual things. The Warriors. The future. Upcoming practices. Until Iguodala caught himself.
“It was like I forget that I’m not on the same team,” he said. “I was texting with Loon and asking him what he was eating and talking about Jiu-Jitsu training. And then, it’s like, ‘Oh, I forgot. We’re not even on the same team anymore.’ I laugh about that all the time.”
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Training camps open next week. The regular season begins on Oct. 22. Iguodala says he hasn’t bothered to look at the schedule, which he always does, partly to designate certain days, home or away, for golf possibilities.
Not interested. Not yet.
If you get the feeling that Iguodala is not ready move on, especially to Memphis, credit your powers of perception.