Free Agency Day 5: Warriors land Iggy

Barely more than a year ago, the Golden State Warriors were coming off a 23-43 lockout-shortened season under rookie head coach Mark Jackson. This year, the Warriors won 47 regular season games, 6 playoff games and developed their young core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, in addition to All Star David Lee.

Today, the Warriors added Andre Iguodala for 4 years, $48 million. Iggy, 29, a former All Star and Olympic Gold Medalist, gives Golden State an athletic, capable wing defender alongside Harrison Barnes. He’s instantly Golden State’s best perimeter defender, key in a conference with Kobe Bryant, James Harden and Kevin Durant on likely playoff teams. And he gives Curry a super-athletic running-mate on the break.

Iguodala tallied 13 points on 45% from the field, 5.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.7 steals in 35 minutes in Denver’s up-tempo style last season, pushing the Nuggets to their best regular season mark (57-25) since they were the ABA’s Denver Rockets in 1974-75 (65-19). He’s averaged double-figure scoring ever year since his rookie campaign in 2004-05. In 9 seasons, he’s only missed a remarkable 27 games, despite never averaging less than 32.8 minutes per game (’04-05).

Iguodala’s mid-range game is not reliable, and his FT percentage has dropped drastically — 82% in ’06-07 to 57.4% last season — in recent years. He’s a career 32.9% shooter from deep. His secondary ball-handling and defensive prowess, though, is well worth the asking price. Iguodala, according to Adrian Wojnarowski, turned down 4 years, $52 million from the Nuggets, who’ve lost their top executive, Masai Ujiri, and head coach, George Karl, this offseason. Earlier this week, Sacramento offered Iggy 4 years, $56 million, but rescinded hours later.

Headed into next season, Jackson will probably start Curry, Thompson, Iggy, Lee and Andrew Bogut; then, he’s got Barnes, Draymond Green, Festus Ezeli and Kent Bazemore off the bench, all capable pieces. Suddenly, Golden State’s went from a team likely to take a step back this season, due to the likely free agent departures of Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack, to one right back in the hunt. (And this was the only team to beat the Spurs in Western Conference playoff action, despite Curry’s bum ankle and Lee playing limited minutes on one leg.)

The Warriors actually came into Friday about $11 million over the 2013-14 projected cap of $58.5 million. But Utah, a team with no shortage of cap space following Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap’s departures, agreed to absorb the expiring contracts of Richard Jefferson, $11.05 million, and Andris Biedrins, $9 million, as well as Brandon Rush’s $4 million along with multiple draft picks, including a first-rounder in 2014. That’s $24 million in dumped cap space, sliding the Warriors enough under the cap to pay Iggy $12 million annually.

Golden State was one of 5 teams to meet with Dwight Howard this week, but he’s since narrowed his choice to Los Angeles and Houston, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard on Friday night. Regardless, if Golden State can add a backup, scoring big and reserve point guard, there’s no reason this team can’t compete next year. Then, Bogut’s $14.2 million expiring will offer a little free agency flexibility in next summer’s ultra-deep class, especially if they continue to build a winning organization.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickJDuprey.

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