Iguodala playing a losing game

ASSOCIATED PRESS Andre Iguodala's attempt to parlay an offer from the Kings into a better deal from the Rockets backfired.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Andre Iguodala's attempt to parlay an offer from the Kings into a better deal from the Rockets backfired.
Posted: July 05, 2013

THE THING about tweets is that they usually elicit the rawest of emotions.

At about 12:59 a.m. yesterday, former 76ers All-Star swingman Andre Iguodala simply tweeted, "Wow!!!"

He then quickly followed with "Really?? Ok . . . MOTIVATION!!!!!!"

Iguodala's tweets were in response to the news that the Sacramento Kings had abruptly yanked a reported 4-year, $56 million contract deal off of the table.

It seemed "Iggy" tried to pull some fancy footwork on the lowly Kings by using their offer as a bargaining chip to try to get more money out of the Denver Nuggets - the team he played for last season after the Sixers traded him in the Andrew Bynum deal.

Sacramento had no desire to be played as a patsy, and now Iguodala is left to wait and see whether an equally lucrative offer will come later in free agency.

Iguodala was scheduled to be paid $15.9 million on the last year of the contract the Sixers gave him 4 years ago, but used his player option to become an unrestricted free agent.

It wasn't necessarily bad logic by Iguodala and his agent Rob Pelinka if getting a long-term contract for big money was the sole motivation.

Iguodala isn't a maximum-salary player but a contract averaging $14 million a year was about right for an All-Star-caliber swingman who can stuff three statistics columns and defend.

The problem was that while Iguodala wants to get paid, he also wants to be on a team that can win.

I can't say that he ever did much more than provide lip service about winning being a top priority during his eight seasons with the Sixers.

But like a lot of players, the 29-year-old guard wants his legacy to include an NBA championship.

Sacramento offered the cash, but the Kings perenially are in a rebuilding mode and are nowhere near contending for a decent playoff seed, much less a title, over the next 4 years.

Although they were eliminated in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, the Nuggets finished third in the conference with a 57-25 record.

But Denver is pushing up against the salary cap and giving Iguodala a 5-year deal in the $60 million to $70 million range would likely push the Nuggets into the dreaded luxury-tax arena.

The Nuggets would love to keep Iguodala, who averaged 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game last season, but their opinion on what he's worth doesn't quite mesh with his.

The Nuggets already have three $10-plus million a year players in Ty Lawson, JaVale McGee and Danilo Gallinari for the next three seasons.

That's the situation with most of the "contending" teams in the league. Most don't have the salary-cap space to offer Iguodala a contract averaging $12 million or $13 million a year.

There's a reason why the teams rumored to be most interested in Iguodala are the Detroit Pistons, New Orleans Pelicans, Atlanta Hawks and, previously, the Kings.

Adding Iguodala would improve any of those teams, but he won't elevate any of them into title contenders.

It's amazing how the curse of the Sixers' trade for Andrew Bynum last summer keeps deteriorating for the four teams involved - well, except for the Orlando Magic, which got a kick-start in rebuilding by getting promising youngsters Nic Vucevic and Moe Harkless from the Sixers.

Bynum's touch has been like the plague spread through medieval Europe by rats.

Obviously, we all know how Bynum, who infamously played no games for the Sixers while collecting $16 million before becoming an unrestricted free agent, blew the Sixers back into expansion-team mode.

Virtually everybody got fired (or were made consultants) and new team president and general manager Sam Hinkie is starting from ground zero to try to rebuild this mess.

But Denver, which surprisingly ended up with the best record of deal that also involved the Los Angeles Lakers, is in turmoil.

The Nuggets fired 2012-13 NBA Coach of the Year George Karl for failing to advance in the playoffs and hired Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw.

If the Nuggets can't re-sign Iguodala, they'll revert to being just another middle-of-the-pack team in the Western Conference.

But depending on how things unfold over the weekend, the Lakers, the team everyone thought had won the four-team deal, hands down, by getting perennial All-Star center Dwight Howard, might end up the biggest losers of all.

Howard had a miserable time adjusting to the expectations of being a Laker and now he's an unrestricted free agent.

Even though the Lakers can offer Howard a 5-year contract, which is $30 million more than any other team, he still might decide to move.

The Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors are all in pursuit of Howard.

If Howard signs somewhere else, the Lakers will be a team led by Kobe Bryant, who is coming off Achilles' tendon surgery. Even without Howard, Los Angeles has a $75 million payroll.

Los Angeles is an old team and has no way to overcome the loss of Howard - who was brought in to transition out of the Bryant era and into the next phase of Lakers dominance.

Howard has indicated that he will likely make his choice known today. If he does, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak might be the next guy tweeting, "WOW."

DN Members Only : The Sixers set their summer league lineup.

Email: smallwj@phillynews.com

Columns: ph.ly/Smallwood

Blog: ph.ly/DNL

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