When NBA free agency officially begins at midnight tonight, most of the spotlight is going to be on mega star Dwight Howard and the ensuing domino effect of his decision. But this summer’s crop of free agents is chock full of other impact players who could find themselves in new homes next year, including ex-Wildcat Andre Iguodala.
Iguodala, who opted out of his contract after one year with the Denver Nuggets, will see interest from a long list of teams. Among the teams expected to pursue the 29 year old swingman are the Detroit Pistons, New Orleans Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks, Golden St. Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, and Sacramento Kings. The Nuggets have also made it clear that they want to resign Iguodala, despite turnover in both the coaching staff and front office.
The Nuggets can offer Iguodala a five year contract, one more year than he could sign with another team. And with the hiring of new head coach Brian Shaw, Iguodala could find it very tempting to return to Denver, where he averaged 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists in the playoffs and helped lead them to a franchise record 57 wins.
Though he has spent the summer working out in Denver, Iguodala has given no indication whether he has a preference among his suitors. He will meet with the Nuggets contingent in Los Angeles on Monday, but Iguodala has remained consistent in saying that he will explore his options.
Nuggets president Josh Kroenke has expressed confidence that Iguodala will return to Denver, but which other teams have the best chance to lure him away? The team at the top of that list might be the Detroit Pistons, who have roughly $20 million in cap space.
The Pistons have a glaring void at small forward after trading away Tayshaun Prince last year, and are looking for a long term solution at the position. In addition to a roster that features two young and extremely talented post players in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, Iguodala could be one of the primary facilitators after point guard Jose Calderon.
Reports surfaced today that the New Orleans Pelicans would make a strong push for Iguodala, but league sources say there is division among New Orleans brass about his fit alongside newly acquired point guard and former teammate Jrue Holiday. Holiday, an all-star for Philadelphia last season, only truly blossomed once the 76’ers traded Iguodala to Denver.
The Mavericks and Warriors are also teams with reported interest and fitting rosters for Iguodala. However, both teams will wait until after they know what free agent Dwight Howard will do before making offers to other players. For the teams that lose out on Howard, Iguodala could be an attractive consolation prize. The Houston Rockets, considered the front-runner for Howard, could also make a play for Iguodala should they miss on their top priority.
Wildcats in the NBA
– Grizzlies point guard Jerryd Bayless exercised his player option to return to Memphis, worth $3.1 million. Depending on what unrestricted free agent Tony Allen decides, Bayless could potentially slide into a starting role next season.
– Jason Terry was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster draft day trade that also included Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Terry enters his 14th year in the NBA.
– Unrestricted free agent Chase Budinger will meet with Minnesota Timberwolves president Flip Saunders in San Diego on Monday.
– Saunders denied that third year forward Derrick Williams was being shopped in multiple trade offers, yet other sources say Minnesota simply hasn’t found a deal they like yet.