As we continue this series on the Heat’s roster, most of these evaluations require more film diving than off-season stuff. But with Andre Iguodala, it’s the complete opposite.
We’re very aware of the things Iguodala brings as a player, mostly since he just finished up his 17th season in the NBA. In terms of his fit with the Heat this past season, it wasn’t as much of a seamless fit as it was the year prior.
The trade at the deadline last season was a perfect move for what the team needed. Two veteran wings, in Jae Crowder and Iguodala, that could not only mentor the young guys, but also fit the role of a plug and play guy that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra loves so much.
Iguodala was an essential factor in the Heat’s post-season success in the bubble for an abundance of reasons. For one, he brought that second unit play-making and facilitating that the team seemed to lack. They had a guy that could be trusted with the ball in his hands to make a play when Jimmy Butler went to the sideline.
Another reason for his effectiveness was on the defensive end for obvious reasons, but more specifically, as a wall builder against Giannis Antetokounmpo. Many attribute that stoppage to the front-court of Bam Adebayo and Crowder only, when in reality, the Iguodala sub-in made Antetokounmpo’s life even worse since he never got a break.
Clearly, he’s a man of many skills on the basketball court, but well, those skills weren’t blended as nicely this past season. In some ways, that trade that I’m discussing propelled some of the future moves that Miami will make for a front-court pairing. They either need a small-ball four who can consistently hit the three, like Crowder or Trevor Ariza, or a stretch big/rim protector that can muck things up in the middle.
The truth is that Iguodala is neither of those things. They don’t need play-making from their back-up small forward, since it should really be coming from a true point guard, which we will save that conversation for another time.
At this current time, roster reconstruction is occurring, which means that the clear holes will be filled in different facets of the off-season. And when looking for a reserve wing who can plug into the starting lineup at times, Iguodala’s profile does not match Butler and Adebayo’s games at all.
If you can’t play a key role player next to your two best player as an effective lineup, it just doesn’t make much sense.
Now, the contract stuff makes this even more interesting, since well, the Heat can choose how they’d like to handle it. With $15 Million being the number for this upcoming season and a team option attached, there’s a good chance they will opt in and utilize him as a filler in a sign and trade.
I’m going to begin diving into some options out there in free agency and through trade, but it’s clear that the trading route may be the best way to go. Miami lacks a ton of assets, due to the unfortunate draft pick situation, but they also can’t just throw away the two salary fillers that they have at this time, in Iguodala and Goran Dragic.
If they go the free agency route, then they can just opt out, which is also a possibility. Either way, the Heat can play the waiting game on how they decide to treat this off-season.
And as I discussed in my Ariza piece, if they can retain him on a cheap deal, there’s no better Iguodala filler. Ariza is not the guy you want starting at the four on a team trying to become a contender, but he’s a perfect guy to have as a reserve, especially since he’s gained the trust of the top two players on the team.
As for Iguodala’s next spot, it seems like retirement or a return to a familiar face may be the two most likely options. Could he finish out his career in Golden State? I believe so, since he could be a type of player that they could use. A bunch of young guys just barely missed the playoffs in the Western Conference, meaning maybe a little veteran guidance could be all that they need.
We’ll see what happens when we get there, but the overarching point is that although his Heat career may be over, that acquisition kept the front office’s mentality stagnant. Trading a young asset for win now guys usually ends in a positive result.