Make no mistake, the culture’s changing.
The Golden State Warriors made a series of moves in the past few days that have already, arguably, made them one of the best teams in the Western Conference. They traded Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins, Brandon Rush, and first round picks in 2014 and 2017 to the Utah Jazz in order to clear cap space. They also received guard Kevin Murphy in the deal.
With more cap room available, the Warriors were able to sign small forward Andre Iguodala to a four-year, $48 million dollar contract. The Warriors have been pursuing Iguodala for a couple years now, and their hard work has finally paid off. The best part of these corresponding moves was that the Warriors were able to keep Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Andrew Bogut and reduce their payroll for this upcoming season by $11 million.
Although the Warriors weren’t able to persuade Dwight Howard to sign with them, they still have a fantastic lineup. The Warriors will start Stephen Curry, Thompson or Barnes, Iguodala, David Lee, and Bogut.
Regardless of if Thompson or Barnes will start, the Warriors have so much talent in their starting lineup, with a good mix of both young players and veterans, that they will most certainly contend for some of the top spots in the Western Conference this upcoming season.
The Warriors were not only able to shed a significant amount of cap room, but they also were able to trade two players, Jefferson and Biedrins, who didn’t contribute much of anything last season. It’s a little unfortunate for fans to see Rush leave, but they should be optimistic about the player they were able to get by shedding these contracts.
Iguodala averaged 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.4 assists with the Nuggets last season. For his career though, he’s averaged 15.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. His scoring has declined over the past couple years, but he’s also expanded and developed his game more.
The one-time All-Star can do a little bit of everything. He can score, he can rebound, he can pass, and he’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. He’s also very active and intense on the court. He will bring lots of energy and passion to this team, because he is such a fierce competitor. He also makes big plays on both offense and defense when his team needs it the most, which the Warriors witnessed in their playoff series against the Nuggets. He’s versatile too, as he can play and guard several positions.
The Warriors finally have someone who is strong enough and quick enough to guard players like Kevin Durant and LeBron James. He could also guard Russell Westbrook and help Thompson guard Tony Parker, if the Warriors end up facing the Spurs in the playoffs again next season.
Curry surely knows how good of a defender Iguodala is. Iguodala guarded Curry for much of the Warriors-Nuggets playoff series, and when Iguodala was defending him, Curry had a hard time establishing his rhythm and scoring. Iguodala used his length, size, and quickness to disrupt Curry.
Those two also have a history off the court. They both were on the USA men’s national basketball team that won the gold-medal in the 2010 FIBA World Championship, and they became good friends. It will be interesting to see how much of their chemistry on the court will carry over from that experience.
The addition of Iguodala will not affect the Warriors’ overall team chemistry. First of all, Iguodala’s skillset matches the other Warriors players’ skillsets very nicely. For example, he is aggressive on offense and likes to drive to the basket, which will help Thompson and Curry get open on the three-point line.
Second, his energy and enthusiasm will be great in the locker room. He’s a veteran presence who can help teach younger players such as Kent Bazemore or Nemanja Nedovic, if he is able to play for the Warriors next season. Iguodala is also a hard worker and focused on winning, which are qualities that can be contagious in a locker room.
Third, Iguodala loves playing in an up-tempo system like the Warriors play in. He loves utilizing his speed and athleticism in transition. He’s also used to playing in fast-paced games, because it’s the same style he played in on the Denver Nuggets.
Iguodala was offered a four-year, $52 million contract offer with the Sacramento Kings, but the Kings ultimately rescinded the offer. Iguodala wanted to play for a contending team, so he clearly wanted to wait and see if the Warriors were going to be able to move their large contracts and sign him.
“Mainly, the coach and the culture, the environment,” Iguodala said about why he wanted to sign with the Warriors. “I feel like they have a good culture there, a lot of great guys, great locker room. The way they’ve got those guys playing with such confidence, that comes from the coach.”
The Warriors still have some areas to address though. Since Festus Ezeli is sidelined with a knee injury, Jarrett Jack signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Carl Landry signed with the Sacramento Kings, the Warriors need to acquire a backup center, a backup point guard (if Nedovic doesn’t play this upcoming season), and another big off the bench.
With the use of their traded player exceptions, the Warriors will have about $17 million to spend before they hit their hard cap. They will have to use this money to acquire players using minimum salary contracts, their full mid-level exception ($5.15 million first-year salary), or either their room exception ($2.6 million) or bi-annual exception (about $2 million).
After all of these moves, both the Warriors and Iguodala have to be extremely happy about this upcoming season. Now that a high-calibur player like Iguodala has signed with the Warriors, Golden State has become a destination where other players will want to play.
This is exactly what Joe Lacob wanted to happen. He wanted to create a winning franchise, make bold moves, and lure big-name free agents to sign with the Warriors. He certainly has done that and more so far. This offseason has been pretty close to perfect for the Warriors.