Although the Warriors entered the summer needing to re-sign MVPs Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, their biggest question was actually Andre Iguodala. It took just 24 hours for the reigning champs to arrive at a very favorable answer.
Golden State has agreed to re-sign Iguodala to a three-year contract worth $48 million, according to multiple reports. The 33-year-old sixth man intimated during the Warriors’ title run that he planned to return but then quickly held meetings with multiple teams, including the Rockets and Spurs, when free agency opened. That carefully-orchestrated courtship forced Golden State’s hand, helping to deliver three guaranteed years on a deal that will carry him through his age-36 season. Iguodala, it turns out, was a luxury that Golden State’s ownership group still deemed that it could afford.
Ultimately, this was a partnership that was working far too well for both parties to get lost in a nasty hardball negotiation. While Iguodala (7.6 PPG, 4 RPG, 3.4 APG) is no longer capable of posting All-Star level production or logging heavy minutes on a nightly basis, he remains a perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate and an ideal defensive option in the postseason for the likes of Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James.
Physical, smart and blessed with excellent hands, the 2015 Finals MVP remains a solid two-way contributor, hitting a passable number of his three-pointers as a release valve and finding easy baskets for his teammates with strong decision-making and passing skills. Thanks to the Warriors’ absurd collection of talent, their elder statesman should be able to cruise through the upcoming regular season with a manageable work load, saving himself for critical playoff matchups.
Retaining Iguodala allows Golden State to keep together its “Hamptons Five” lineup, which posted a +32.9 net rating during the 2017 playoffs and a +23.9 net rating during the regular season. That quintet – Curry, Klay Thompson, Iguodala, Durant and Draymond Green – has a versatility, potency and discipline that has proved unsolvable for the rest of the league.
Without Iguodala, Golden State would still have more than enough talent to win the 2018 title, but it would need to lean more heavily on Thompson and Durant for major defensive responsibilities and it would need more offensively from youngsters like Patrick McCaw. With Iguodala, Golden State may very well enter each of the next three seasons as title favorites. And if Cleveland opts to trim payroll, as the rumored Iman Shumpert deal suggests, it’s possible that Golden State’ will exit this summer with an even wider talent gap on the rest of the league.
The major intrigue around Iguodala’s free agency was whether Golden State’s ownership group would flinch at the thought of major luxury tax payments given that the team’s payroll could zoom past $135 million for the 2017-18 season once Durant agrees to re-sign. In truth, the Warriors’ relatively cheap rosters in recent years put ownership in position to bring back the most important pieces of the rotation, including Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, while delaying the possibility of rotation cuts until next summer or beyond.
Ideally, Golden State would have signed Iguodala to a two-year contract or added a team option or partial guarantee on the third year as their total payroll and tax bill could reach up to $300 million in 2019-20. However, this deal should remain fairly tradeable in 2019, when Thompson will be eligible for a lucrative new deal, as it wouldn’t represent the world’s biggest salary dump.
The Warriors will need to make some financial decisions sooner or later, but it’s fair to say that this extra year for Iguodala will be a long-forgotten afterthought if they go on to win the next two titles and deliver on their dynasty potential.