Andre Iguodala Opts Out – Should Portland Pursue?


Feb 27, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Denver Nuggets shooting guard Andre Iguodala (9) leads a fast break past Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard Wesley Matthews (2) at the Rose Garden. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Denver swingman, Andre Iguodala, has opted out of the final year of his contract with the Nuggets and will become an unrestricted free agent. As rumors swirl about Portland’s future, this news is cause for highly cautious excitement. Many Blazer fans had voiced their interest in Iguodala should he enter free agency, and Neil Olshey wants to make drastic changes to bring Portland into playoff contention, but Iguodala is not exactly the most affordable guy on the market.

Iguodala’s contract for next season with Denver was worth $16.1 million. If the Blazers re-signed exactly 0 free agents, they still would not have that much money. The question is, “how much will Iguodala fetch on the open market?” He is 29 years old and entering his 10th season. Chances are he’ll reel in about $16M wherever he goes. In order to acquire Iguodala, Portland would likely have to trade away Wesley Matthews or Nicolas Batum.

The most plausible scenario would involve a sign-and-trade that sent Wesley Matthews, Will Barton, and future picks to Denver so the Nuggets are not empty handed should Iguodala leave. This is assuming that Iguodala would want to play for Portland and the Blazers desired him as well. But would we really want that? The financial ramifications could put a lock on the Blazers for years to come, not to mention stifle their quest for depth next season. How deep can Portland get if they use their resources on a superstar?

Let’s imagine for a second that Iguodala wants to come to Portland and play with up-and-comer Damian Lillard, accepting a contract of $15 million. Portland trades Wesley Matthews, Will Barton, and their 2015 first round pick (2014 already belonging to Charlotte) to Denver. Denver gains about $7.7M in cap space and some quality players, while Portland spends about $7.3M of their liquid cash for next season. This leaves the Blazers with about $8 million in cap space (again, without re-signing anyone).

Now let’s say they re-sign Eric Maynor (as they should) for his qualifying offer of $3.35M. Portland now has between $4 million and $5 million with which to pay their draft picks and other free agents. That’s not terrible, but here’s the kicker: just because a player is available, doesn’t mean we get to pick them up. Having dumped most of their current FAs Portland is now shallower than ever with no guaranteed replacements. After paying their draftees, the Blazers have sub-$3 million to spend in free agency. That buys very little depth when players choose who they play for.

Which brings us back around to Portland’s problem in the first place; the lack of a bench. While it would be fun to pursue Iguodala (given the listed circumstances), it would be detrimental to their cause. Portland may not have been riddled with all-stars last season, but the starting lineup was by no means sub-par. There is no need to shake that up if the bench does not get the revamp it desperately needs.

So let’s say everything happens as laid out and Portland finds one decent free agent to add alongside Iguodala. Portland would have a 13 player roster, with a bench consisting of Eric Maynor, Victor Claver, Joel Freeland, a mediocre free agent, and 4 rookies. Does that sound much better to you than where the Blazers were before? Not only does the bench remain just as spotty, Portland’s most pressing need outside of depth (interior defense) goes entirely unaddressed.

My point is that the money Portland needs to make the right changes just isn’t there. Of course Iguodala would be a great addition to the roster, but picking him up would require so much to go right and lead to so much going wrong. His declaration of independence is certainly something to keep in mind, but I see Iguodala as a very unlikely option at this juncture. Still, his wheelings and dealings are something to watch when July 1st hits.

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