20 Apr 19
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LOS ANGELES — As the Warriors gathered around for a film session, they did not just marvel at Kevin Durant’s scoring outburst or dissect the team’s high volume of fouls. They also admired Andre Iguodala for seemingly doing everything.
“‘Oh to be 35 again,’” Warriors coach Steve Kerr remembered saying with playful sarcasm.
Not many 35-year-old NBA players can offer dependable secondary scoring, dunk as if they are in their prime or limit an opposing team’s top scorer. But Iguodala does that, even in his 15th NBA season. And after admiring how San Antonio’s Tim Duncan (19 years) and Manu Ginobili (16 years) extended their careers well past their prime, Kerr also senses Iguodala’s expiration date is not looming.
“I think he can play beyond this contract, if he really wants,” Kerr said. “He may not want to be. He may just want to go to the golf course and call it a career. But he can keep playing if he wants.”
The Warriors have more imminent matters to handle first. They have a 2-1 series lead entering Game 4 of their first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. They hope to win their fourth NBA championship in five years. And then when free agency begins in July, they will concentrate on retaining Durant and Klay Thompson.
But about Iguodala, who will be 36 when his $17.18 million contract expires in the 2020 offseason? Would Iguodala want to extend his NBA career after that?
“Yeah I can easily,” Iguodala said. “But it’s going to cost you.”
“For whoever wants me to play, I ain’t playing to play,” Iguodala said. “I’m playing to help my guys. It’s got to be worth my time.”
What would be worth his time?
“Depending on what the salary cap is,” Iguodala said. “What is the team, coach, ownership as well as the stakeholders?”
Iguodala remains familiar with the Warriors’ structure, but noted “there’s a time and place for that” discussion considering so much could change in two years. Who knows what the Warriors will look like then. Same thing with Iguodala, who could not resist poking fun at the insatiable appetite for player movement speculation
“[Steve] Ballmer is the quintessential example of the American dream,” said Iguodala, referring to the Clippers’ owner. “If you write that [stuff], they’ll say ‘Oh, you want to go to the Clippers.’”
Iguodala was joking when he said that. He maintained he was serious when he argued, however, “some people don’t know” his value to an NBA team. The Warriors do, though. Ever since joining the Warriors as a free agent in 2013, the Warriors have apprecaited Iguodala for his former All-Star credentials, his willingness to take a reserve role (2014), his NBA Finals MVP (2015) and his unmatched intangibles with playmaking and defense.
“He still has his athleticism,” Kerr said. “It takes him longer to warm up and takes him longer to cool down. But it’s still there.”
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(Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)
Iguodala has mostly fulfilled the same job description this season under different circumstances. He missed 24 games last season, including six in the NBA playoffs, because of injuries to his knees, ankles and shoulders. After having a non-invasive procedure last summer on his left leg, Iguodala has only missed a combined 11 games this season for minor ailments and rest purposes.
After recording a career-low in minutes played in the regular season (23.2), he tied a career-high in shooting percentage in the regular season (50) and a career-high in the postseason (57.9 percent). Through three postseason appearances, Iguodala has recorded his highest scoring average through the Warriors’ four postseason runs (10.7 points per game).
Iguodala also has shown flashes of his former self when he participated in the 2006 NBA Dunk Contest. After finishing with 52 dunks last season, he increased his total to 69. In only three playoff games, Iguodala has seven dunks, only 12 shy of the his post-season totals last season.
“This dude can still jump. It’s pretty crazy,” Draymond Green said. “But it’s good for us. It’s one of those things that boosts our energy.”
Another thing that has boosted the Warriors’ energy? Iguodala has become the solution toward the Warriors defending Clippers guard Lou Williams.
After scoring 25 points on 11-of-23 shooting in Game 1, Williams followed with 36 points on a 13-of-22 clip. With Iguodala primarily guarding Williams in Game 3, however, he had only 16 points on a 4-of-11 mark.
“Some of it is a guessing game,” Iguodala said. “Some of it is scouting. Sometimes you have to get lucky.”
Very little of Iguodala’s work, however, involves luck. Kerr observed that Iguodala “has a knack for being right with Lou and not being a step behind mentally” after playing together in Philadelphia (2005-12).
“He wasn’t reaching. He just tried to make him take tough shots,” Green said of Iguodala. “He was picking him up at halfcourt at times. I think he did a good job of picking and choosing his spots. He was trying not to give him a steady diet of one thing.”
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Fitting that Green used those words. Iguodala has maintained a steady diet overall, while staying disciplined with his workout regimen. Iguodala maintained, “I can’t let you in on those secrets,” to maintain a competitive advantage and to maximize sales on a book he has for a scheduled released on June 24.
But team accounts say that Iguodala mostly adheres to a vegan diet and prioritizes maximizing sleep, weight training, meditation, yoga and icing. After practice, Iguodala snacked on a bag of gluten-free nacho chips. No wonder Kings coach Luke Walton called Iguodala a “perfectionist” as former teammates at the University of Arizona and when Walton served as a Warriors’ assistant coach (2014-16).
“He would make 90 percent of his shots, but he wouldn’t get off the court until he did it exactly how he wanted,” said Walton, who used to work Iguodala out before games. “Even if the makes weren’t how he wanted the makes to be, he would stay on the court. That’s what has made him so great for so many years. He takes his craft very seriously and works very hard at it.”
And it explains why maybe Iguodala has many more years left to play, even if he playfully disagrees.
“It don’t matter now. I’m getting old,” Iguodala said, coyly. “I’m done. This season is wack.”
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