After the Golden State Warriors won the NBA championship in 2022, Andre Iguodala was mum on his future. He was clearly near the very end of his career — a career that, at that point, had featured 18 seasons, four championships, an All-Star selection, an NBA Finals MVP award, and some serious consideration for the Hall of Fame. But it wasn’t clear whether or not he would be hanging up his Nikes or not.
The Warriors kept a roster spot open for him, and on the eve of training camp Iguodala announced that he intended to play one final season. But an injury delayed his season debut until January. He played in just eight games all year, and none in the playoffs.
It seemed to be a quiet goodbye, but immediately after the season Iguodala refuted reports that he had retired, saying that he’ll announce his decision when he feels like it, on his podcast.
Iguodala likes to play these types of games. He might seriously be mulling an attempted return to action. But more likely is that he’s dragging out an announcement just for fun or, perhaps most likely of all, is just never going to actually say anything and was trolling all along.
Despite the fact that Steph Curry and Steve Kerr adore and trust Iguodala, I think it’s safe to say that if he called Mike Dunleavy Jr. tomorrow and said, “hey Mike, I still want to play, can you send me a contract?” that Dunleavy would respond with some iteration of, “absolutely not, but I’ll buy you a beer.”
And yet, the thought of Iguodala being involved with the Warriors in some capacity is one that I think we can all envision happening. Here are six ways I could see Iguodala’s Warriors tenure extending into the 2023-24 season.
A training camp hurrah
I fully accept that I am in the minority here, but I still think that Iguodala was a pretty decent player during the Warriors championship run. And I think he had something to offer the Dubs last year, had he been healthy.
But he wasn’t, and expecting him to be healthy this year, let alone productive in his 20th season, is asking for the moon.
Then again, it never hurts to ask for the moon, it’s extending the moon a contract that pays them a few million dollars and costs you tens of millions in tax penalties that causes damage. If Iguodala actually wants to try and continue his career, it’s pretty risk-free to give him a training camp invite. He gets to audition, Kerr and Dunleavy get to see if having a lot of time off has revived his body, and then, in all likelihood, we all go our separate ways.
A late-season push
The Warriors will likely leave a roster spot open to start the year, but they won’t be averse to filling it later in the year. They’ll just be holding out to see who becomes available in a buyout or a trade, or potentially what two-way contract deserves a promotion.
Iguodala could rest his body while staying in shape and then, if the Warriors can’t find anyone better by the spring, they can consider bringing him in to give them an extra body, a friend to hang out with the veterans, and an additional postseason coach. It’s not too unlike what they did with Andrew Bogut in 2019.
A spot on the bench
Many fans have called for Iguodala to become a coach rather than occupy a roster spot, but there’s a pretty big difference. Even if you’re recently retired, you play a different role as a coach than as a player. You wear different clothes. You spend the time before and after the game in a different room. You sit with different people on the plane. It’s not the same.
Iguodala has said in the past that he doesn’t have an interest in coaching, in part due to the significantly smaller paychecks. But perhaps a flirtation with retirement will spark some competitive desires, and he’ll want to find a way to stay involved in the daily grind and competitive intensity of the NBA.
A serious front office spot
Iguodala is uniquely qualified to be in an NBA front office. Not only has he spent nearly two decade in the league, while being viewed as one of the smartest players in the game, but he’s been the first vice president of the NBPA and the vice president of the NBPA executive committee. He’s an avid and eager tech and angel investor, and a minority owner of Bay FC, a soccer team launching in the NWSL next season.
Whether it’s on the basketball decision-making side, the player development side, or the business side, Iguodala is qualified to wear a suit and tie at Chase Center, and it’s easy to see him wanting to make an impact in that space. If he want to pursue a career in the front office, I have no doubt the Warriors would welcome him with open arms.
A token front office spot
A lot of people know that Jonnie West still works for the Warriors, even after the slightly messy divorce between the team and his father, Jerry. And while West has a very serious and important job — director of basketball operations — that he does well, he also has an unofficial role that’s equally important: Curry’s golf partner (a role he’s well qualified to fill, given that he’s married to recently-retired Major champion Michelle Wie West).
West and Curry’s clubs accompany them on most road trips, with the two spending many off days at the course, helping clear Curry’s mind and give him a break from the NBA. Iguodala and Klay Thompson often join, and sometimes Kerr does, too. But while West surely loves this role, he may have less time for it the further he climbs up the front office ladder.
Would the Warriors carve out a job for Iguodala that basically just meant flying around the country with them to keep Curry’s mind free by golfing with him at every stop? Hell yeah.
More importantly, can I apply?
On the big screen
It’s no secret that Iguodala has an interest in media. After all, he has a podcast and a book. He seems more likely to want to keep his media involvement under his own control, so I don’t expect him to take a broadcasting role elsewhere, but ... you can see it, right? Breaking down the game with Kerith Burke or Chris Mullin, or even occasionally filling in for Kelenna Azubuike? He’d be unlike anyone else, but he’d also be fantastic.
In all likelihood, we won’t see Iguodala around the Warriors much this year. But then again, you just never know.