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Nuggets' Andre Iguodala to opt out of contract, become unrestricted free agent

(Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images)Andre Iguodala plans to test the waters in free agency this summer. (Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images)

Andre Iguodala has reportedly communicated to Nuggets management that he will opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Yahoo! Sports reports that the decision, which was expected, was passed on by Iguodala's agent, Rob Pelinka, to Nuggets CEO Josh Kroenke this week.

"We are fully aware of Andre's intentions and he's well aware of how much we want him back," Kroenke told Yahoo! Sports Friday afternoon. "Andre is a huge priority for our organization."

After superstars Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, Iguodala will be a target for several teams, including the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons and New Orleans Pelicans, league sources said.

The 2012 All-Star will opt out of the final year of his current contract, which was set to pay him $16.2 million in 2013-14, and will now have the ability to sign a five-year contract with the Nuggets or a four-year deal with outside suitors.

Iguodala averaged 13 points, 5.4 assists and 5.3 rebounds in 2012-13 after arriving in Denver from Philadelphia in a four-team blockbuster trade that also involved Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum.

Back in March, Iguodala told FoxSportsFlorida that he was "definitely" considering opting out of the final year of his deal.

“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.’’

Since Iguodala made those comments, the Nuggets finished the season as the Western Conference's No. 3 seed, but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Warriors. Already this offseason, the Nuggets fired coach George Karl, the 2013 Coach of the Year, and allowed GM Masai Ujiri, the 2013 Executive of the Year, to leave for the Raptors.

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 in 2012, a gold medal in London with Team USA, and a solid debut season with the Nuggets. At 29, he's not yet in a major statistical decline when you factor in his shift from a lead scoring option in Philadelphia to one of a number of options on a deeper Denver team. 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, considered one of the league's top perimeter defenders and recently ranked the No. 4 shooting guard in the NBA here at The Point Forward. The Nuggets are well-positioned salary cap-wise to pay him handsomely if they so choose.

Ujiri  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, for example, $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. It's possible, if not likely, that Iguodala's future will be determined by his faith in the new course being charted by Kroenke. Watching everything go kaput after such a successful season would be enough to give anyone pause.

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