Andre Iguodala has until June 25 to exercise an early termination clause in his contract, but his mind is already made up and he has decided to opt out of his $16.1 salary for 2013-14 and enter free agency, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The official paperwork may not be filed until the deadline, but Nuggets team president Josh Kroenke has already acknowledged the impending move:
"We are fully aware of Andre's intentions and he's well aware of how much we want him back," Kroenke told Yahoo! Sports Friday afternoon. "Andre us a huge priority for our organization."
The 29-year-old swingman played a central role for a team that set a franchise record with 57 regular season wins last season, but the recent decisions by the Nuggets to dismiss head coach George Karl and let general manager Masai Ujiri leave suggest the franchise is headed in a different direction next season. When asked how Karl's departure would affect his decision, his only response was: "Good question. Need some time to let it sink in."
There are plenty of benefits for Iguodala opting out of the final year of his six-year, $80 million deal signed in 2008. He's a premium perimeter defender still in the prime of his career, and he will be one of the top free agents on the market this summer. Rather than play out a one-year deal and risk a serious injury like the one teammate Danilo Gallinari suffered, he can get a new deal with a lot more guaranteed money to provide him with long-term security. He mentioned that security as a motivating factor back in March.
As Wojnarowski notes, Iguodala can also work out a bigger deal with the Nuggets by opting out now. If he remained on his original deal, a maximum extension could only run three years. As a free agent, Denver can offer him a five-year contract or he could seek up to a four-year deal with another team. In other words, his decision doesn't foreclose the possibility of a return to the Nuggets, but it does raise the price of keeping him. Plenty of teams put Iguodala's skills to good use, so expect the bids to be very competitive this summer.