ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Sunday that the Miami Heat have declined their team option on forward Andre Iguodala, making him an unrestricted free agent just hours before NBA free agency is set to begin.
Meanwhile, Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes has reported that, while the LA Clippers are aiming to re-sign forward Nicolas Batum, the Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers and the Heat themselves are all showing interest in Batum, who had a stellar bounceback year with the Clippers last season (the veteran shot 40.4% from three).
If Batum does walk in free agency (LA can only offer him the Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception, worth $5.9 million in the first season), they will need a replacement wing. Batum was extremely versatile for LA during the 2020-21 season, playing both power forward and center and bringing a level of secondary playmaking, ball-handling and general basketball IQ not often found in role players.
However, all of these traits can be found in Iguodala.
While the 2015 Finals MVP had a bit of a down year for Miami (the Heat posted a -2.5 net rating with Iguodala on the floor in the regular season, marking just the fourth time in his 17-year career that he’s been in the negative), his intangible skills still make him a viable a replacement option for Batum. The Clippers were able to get the most out of Batum after a rough year in Charlotte, so it stands to reason that Head Coach Tyronn Lue and his coaching staff would be able to salvage whatever the 37-year-old forward has left in the tank.
Iguodala will no-doubt have offers elsewhere, for the veteran’s minimum at the very least. The Warriors will attempt to bring their favorite glue guy back, as they hope to resume contending for a title with Klay Thompson healthy. However, Iguodala has shown interest in living in Los Angeles before, and he’d have a sizable role with the Clippers, particularly while Kawhi Leonard recovers from his ACL surgery (assuming LA retains him). Iguodala could also be useful when the Clippers go to their five-out, small-ball switching lineup.
The Clippers might be hesitant to use their MLE on Iguodala given his age and recent decline, but if options become limited, he’s a great low-risk choice that can at least bring veteran leadership for the Clippers’ recently-drafted young wings.
Free agency begins on Monday, Aug. 2, at 3 p.m.