The Denver Nuggets have reached 50 wins in a season for the fifth time in eight seasons since George Karl took over the coaching job. This season, Karl has had a lot of help from Andre Iguodala and his unselfish brand of basketball.
Because Iguodala can do so much in a basketball game (score, pass, rebound, play all-world defense, etc.), he's a perfect linchpin for what Karl asks of his team. Play a frenetic style, get up and down the floor and put constant pressure on the opposing team. It would be easy for Iguodala to demand a lot of shots, set aside his other skills and try to score a lot of points as he sets himself up for free agency bidding.
According to Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida, be rest assured that Iguodala will forego the final year of his contract and opt out for free agency:
“Yeah, definitely,'' Iguodala, 29, said of that being a distinct possibility. “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.''
Iguodala said it's no guarantee he would re-sign with Denver if he does the expected and opts out. But he has liked the progress the Nuggets (50-24) have made recently, which has included a 15-game winning streak that ended last Monday.
“My main goal is, if we win here, everything will take care of itself, no matter what,'' Iguodala said. “I want to play for a team where I have an impact on the game without even scoring ... I feel like if I win (with the Nuggets), I won't have to worry about having to prove my worth.
“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.''
He stands to make roughly $16.1 million next season if he exercises his player option, but this sounds like a very smart way to capitalize on the good season that he has had and get himself some more long-term security. At 29 years old, Iguodala probably only has one more shot at signing a long-term deal for big money, unless he wants to find his way to a team run by Billy King in a few years. It makes sense for him to miss out on his big paycheck next season in the hopes of grabbing a four-year deal that might net him close to the same annual amount.
His scoring and scoring efficiency have certainly fallen over the seasons, but that's not really the reason you get Iguodala on your team. He's widely regarded as one of the best wing defenders in the NBA, who can be asked to defend 1-4 on the basketball court. Without him on the court, the Nuggets are still a net positive by outscoring their opponents by 1.8 points per 100 possessions. However, when he's in the game, they get a boost on both ends.
Denver's offensive efficiency increases from 106.6 points per 100 possessions with him off the court to 107.7 with him on. And the defense is where you see the biggest boost. With Iggy on the bench, the Nuggets give up a defensive rating of 104.8, but that number improves to 100.9 when he's on the floor. It helps that his seemingly infinite wingspan and quick reactions seem to eat opposing scorers alive.
As long as he stays healthy the rest of the season and in Denver's playoff run, he should see a big payday in a couple months.