By Ben Golliver
There aren't too many NBA players in a position to opt out of a contract that will pay them roughly $16 million in a season, but Nuggets guard/forward Andre Iguodala is one of them.
Fox Sports Florida reports that Iguodala, acquired by the Nuggets from the Sixers in a 2012 four-team blockbuster deal headlined by Dwight Howard and Andrew Byum, is "definitely" considering opting out of his 2013-14 player option to enter unrestricted free agency this summer.
“You got to weigh options. Security-wise, a player would opt out, especially with the type of season we’ve had as a team. Teams know what I can bring to them, and I know (the Nuggets) know what I can bring to a team here. Players get like $50, $60 or $70 or $80 (million over multiple years), whatever the number was, they gave up a big number (in an option season by opting out). But in the grand scheme of things, pretty much get it back. You got security.’’
“Obviously, it’s a business, so you’re going to look at your options. Here we have some good (prospects). But I’m not making any promises. But I’ve liked the last month and a half, two months, three months or however long (that Denver has been on a roll). It’s important for the future, so I’m just trying to win.’’
Iguodala, 29, was recently ranked the No. 4 shooting guard in the NBA here at The Point Forward.
Considered one of the league's top perimeter defenders and a possible Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Iguodala is averaging 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.7 steals while shooting 44.5 percent in his first season with the Nuggets. Although he lacks in the range department, Iguodala is excellent around the hoop and he's a nightmare in transition, where he can put his athletic tools to full use.
The Nuggets, the Western Conference's No. 3 seed, have improved from the No. 19 defense in 2011-12 to the No. 11 defense this season. Iguodala doesn't get all the credit for that rise but there's no question he's been a big help, as Denver's defensive efficiency improves nearly four points per 100 possessions when he's on the court.
The opt-out decision is really a no-brainer in a world where Gerald Wallace received $40 million over four years last summer. Iguodala is coming off of a playoff run with the Sixers, a gold medal in London with Team USA, a solid debut season with the Nuggets and he will have the opportunity to help the franchise advance in the playoffs for just the second time since 1994. At 29, he's not yet in a statistical decline. This summer's weak market is a great time to sell high and land the last big-dollar deal of his prime years.
Denver should be highly motivated to keep Iguodala and be in a position to pay him handsomely. GM Masai Ujiri has handed out a number of large contracts in recent years -- $44 million over four years to JaVale McGee, $42 million over four years to Danilo Gallinari, $48 million over four years to Ty Lawson, $31 million over five years to Wilson Chandler, $65 million over five years to Nene Hilario, $37 million over five years to Arron Afflalo -- yet still found a way to create a successful roster mix without breaking the bank by going deep into the luxury tax. Iguodala could be offered, say, $55-to-60 million over four years without putting Denver into a tax position. With Lawson, Gallinari, Chandler and McGee all locked in long-term, rounding out that core by re-signing Iguodala makes all the sense in the world.
There very well might be outside suitors for Iguodala but the fit in Denver seems like a very good one. There are plenty of minutes available, his skills are put to good use, and the team is good enough that he's playing for something. That would seem to be a preferable situation than signing with a weaker team that has cap space to throw at him. Better for Iguodala to be one of many options in a well-oiled attack rather than the No. 1 guy amid a lesser cast of characters. The money involved is big so it's never a guarantee, but Ujiri's history indicates he's willing and able to pay up to keep a good thing, and Iguodala is exactly that.