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Andre Iguodala signs with Warriors, ushering in an era of small ball

The Warriors paid a steep price in players and assets to acquire Andre Iguodala, but it was absolutely worth it.


The Golden State Warriors didn't rest on their laurels, making an aggressive move to clear cap space to get Andre Iguodala to agree to a four-year, $48 million contract.

We'll briefly consider the Warriors' salary-dump trade with the Utah Jazz that was needed to get Iguodala, because it obviously factors into the evaluation in some fashion, but the bulk of this grade will focus on Iguodala himself.

At roughly $12 million a season annually, Iguodala is worth his contract. He's a top-five perimeter defender in the NBA and a versatile offensive player that can handle the ball, pass and, after struggling initially in his career, hit spot-up threes. He won't be an elite scorer, and he's still sometimes prone to the occasional lapse in concentration offensively, but on the right team, those issues can be covered up.

The 2012-13 Nuggets were the right team, and Golden State, assuming it completes its conversion to small ball, are as well. Signing Iguodala is a sure sign that the style that got the Warriors to the second round of the playoffs is here to stay. The Warriors aren't paying Iguodala $48 million so Harrison Barnes can be a bench player. Long term, I suspect the goal is to have Barnes and Iguodala playing in super-small lineups with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson often. Otherwise, this whole expedition was a waste.

Can small lineups with Barnes and Iguodala up front work? They did for Denver when Wilson Chandler was starting at power forward with Iguodala, so I don't see why not. Obviously, there will be some matchups where the Warriors will give up size, but the fact that all four of those wings can shoot, pass and handle will make it nearly impossible for a team like, say, the Thunder, to match up when they play big. It's also worth noting that Iguodala's playmaking ability will allow him to easily fill the role of primary ball-handler on all those wacky screen plays the Warriors run for Curry and Thompson, softening the blow of losing Jarrett Jack.

Of course, all of this does make David Lee's spot in the Warriors' future a little awkward. One of Lee, Andrew Bogut or Barnes will have to play off the bench in the short term unless one is traded. I'd imagine that the Warriors are looking to move Lee's contract, but does anyone want to take on the three years and $44 million remaining on it? Perhaps the Warriors will just keep Lee and have him split center minutes with the oft-injured Bogut, hoping that Iguodala's presence on defense at least makes lineups with Lee somewhat passable defensively.

But these are problems that can sort themselves out in time. Some may wonder whether the Warriors gave up too much (Carl Landry, Jack, Brandon Rush, two future first-round picks to dump Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins on Utah) for Iguodala, especially if Lee cannot be traded for other role players. I can understand that concern.

Big picture, though, the Warriors secured a commitment from an All-Star-level player that fits their system well, with him taking less money to come to the Bay. It's much easier to find cheap replacements for Jack, Landry and Rush than it is to find someone like Iguodala, because veterans will follow Iguodala's lead and take less money to flock to a winning situation. That's why you make this signing 10 times out of 10.


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