NBC Sports

Why Warriors should offer Iguodala 'player emeritus' status

NBC Sports

SAN FRANCISCO – On the subject of Andre Iguodala’s future, Warriors coach Steve Kerr and general manager Bob Myers responded properly Wednesday, making no declarations and leaving it up to Andre to express his desires.

Both would welcome him back because they realize how much Iguodala meant to their regular season and, particularly, the postseason that resulted in a championship.

“If he decides to come back we'd be thrilled, because he means so much to us in so many different ways,” Kerr said.

“I hear he wants to play; I hear he doesn't want to play,” Myers said. “I don't know if he knows. He was really good, and I know it's been written and said, but his value off the floor was pretty powerful.”

Particularly for someone who missed two-thirds of the season. Iguodala need not be atop the list of priorities for Golden State’s unrestricted free agents, but he surely should be on it. And the front office should be willing to make room for him and be unrelentingly persuasive in seeking his return.

To be clear, the Warriors don’t mean as much to Andre as he does to them. His post-career plans have been in place for nearly a decade. He gets to decide what’s next.

But Iguodala has earned sort of a player-emeritus status. Semi-retired but still on the active roster. An offer ought to be made that allows him to fill with the Warriors much the same role Udonis Haslem has for six years with the Miami Heat.

 

Haslem appeared in 58 games, with two starts, over the last six seasons. He played 130 minutes over the last three seasons, increasing from three minutes in 2020-21 to 83 minutes last season. He produced a total of 48 points and 42 rebounds over the past three seasons – yet remains the team captain.

Haslem’s contributions always have been far greater than his statistics. The Heat so appreciate his safeguarding of their heralded culture that team president Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra routinely protect his roster spot. When Haslem last summer signed another one-year contract, again for the veteran’s minimum, Riley called him a “legacy player.”

Iguodala has done enough over his seven seasons with the Warriors to attain that privilege.

He is the perfect sounding board and regulator for the team’s primary core of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Though Andre is a wonderful mentor for the young players, the next generation of Warriors, his relationship equity is so vast that he can question any of them without worry of repercussion.

“Not many people can command the respect of the other three guys that have won at the level they have, and Andre is one of the few people in the world that – maybe Shaun Livingston, as well – that they would look up to or even look evenly after,” Myers said.

Kerr cited a specific instance prior to the first-round series against the Nuggets in which Iguodala carefully chosen words stayed with the team.

“Andre gave a little talk to the team that said, sometimes in order to win a championship you have to improve from round to round, depending on your team,” Kerr recalled. “He said, ‘I think this is the type of team that's going to have to do that, and we're going to have to improve each round, but we can do that since we have almost everybody healthy.’

“He wasn't healthy, but (the reference was to) getting Gary (Payton II) back and obviously getting Steph and Draymond back.”

Consider a couple “Andre” scenes during the playoffs. The first coming when Draymond punctuated a poor performance in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals by fouling out. As he took a seat on the bench, Iguodala shot a withering glance reminiscent of a big brother gazing at his wayward little brother. The second came in the Finals, when Iguodala hopped off the bench to pull aside Andrew Wiggins. Andre went full coach mode, by turns scolding and encouraging. Wiggins responded by absorbing what he heard and then applying it.

“I’m yelling at him, but I'm giving him confidence” Iguodala later explained on his Point Forward podcast.

“The hardest part about coaching, or giving that type of feedback to a guy, is for them to accept it. That’s why it feels so good to win a championship, and that’s why those championship bonds last so long. Because I was able to go directly at you on something, and you didn’t take it personally.”

 
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This is something a coach might be able to do, but it’s more easily digested when coming from someone considered a basketball sage. That’s Andre, who is better suited to tutor than coach.

“He's way too smart to sit next to me and come to all our coaches' meetings and do this,” Kerr said, grinning. “He was a coach this year in the locker room for our guys. I would love to have him back on the roster if it works out -- and I know Bob feels the same way -- and things have to fall into place.”

If things do “fall into place,” if indeed Iguodala wants another year, there is no question the Warriors would be infinitely better for his presence.

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