Miami Heat: Andre Iguodala ‘wanted to be somewhere he could grow’

In a recent interview, veteran Andre Iguodala opened up about the trade that brought him down to South Beach and the Miami Heat.

The Miami Heat’s biggest move at the trade deadline this year was acquiring 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala. What some saw as an overrated move, Pat Riley and the front office clearly saw as an overlooked move; considering they immediately signed the veteran to an extension.

Yes, the team cleared cap space for the 2021 offseason by shedding the salaries of Justise Winslow, James Johnson, and Dion Waiters.

But they also added an incredibly valuable amount of experience in the form of one player as opposed to the three that were sitting at the end of their bench.

Nothing says that more than the two-year extension for $30-million Miami granted Iguodala upon his arrival, despite the team option for the 2021-2022 season.

In a recent interview with Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the 36-year old veteran opened up about his expectations with the Heat going forward:

“Both sides knew the window we have – my window and the team’s window,” he said. “We all know about when teams want cap space. It’s hard to get acclimated with a group of guys in two months. The locker room is a special place.”

The locker room itself, and overall culture couldn’t be any more captivating than it is in Miami.

What Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra have built over the last decade and then some is largely what earned the team a marriage with Jimmy Butler in the first place. Iguodala went on mention the team’s young core, and how he can help raise some of the NBA’s next generation:

“I wanted to be somewhere I could grow with the guys, a lot of the young talent I have a good impression of, help them grow, especially Bam [Adebayo], Kendrick Nunn, Tyler [Herro], and Duncan Robinson.”

With longtime veteran and locker room mentor Udonis Haslem likely on the outs after this season, this will provide a smooth transition among the team if things go as planned.

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Because it was the plan all along. Iguodala says he had his sights on a second season with the Heat from the beginning of their partnership:

“I didn’t want it to be a two, three month thing. My legs have improved. They’re really good. [Before the pandemic], I did a dunk I haven’t done in years. The guys saw that and see I still have some spring left and can be a value to this team in the small details ways that get you over the hump.”

The 16-year veteran is feeling good, coming off of a seven month break from basketball.

Iguodala never reported for the Memphis Grizzlies this season after being traded from the Golden State Warriors in the offseason. He’s been incredibly productive in a short stint for the Heat already behind averages of 4.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.1 blocks per game.

Even now, at this point in his career, Iguodala made sure to note that he too has room to grow:

“I still have a lot of room to grow. I found in June this past year, in the Finals, I really had a great rhythm offensively, felt really good, breaking guys down, being able to break guys down off the dribble, whereas [before the league shutdown] it’s almost like you’re still early in the season. Defense is like riding a bike for me.”

With the Warriors last year he averaged 9.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.1 blocks in the postseason. That same kind of production would be a welcome addition to this Heat roster, with a number of their contributors young and largely inexperienced.

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For now, the Miami Heat and Andre Iguodala will prepare for the NBA’s quarantine finish to 2020. He’s got a contract to justify and Pat Riley wouldn’t mind another championship on the resume.

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