Nuggets, Andre Iguodala share long-term vision

Veteran swingman says he could see himself finishing career in Denver
by Aaron Lopez

After eight years in the City of Brotherly Love, Andre Iguodala is seeking another long-term relationship – this time with the Denver Nuggets.

Iguodala made it clear that he considers Denver to be an NBA destination city during his introductory press conference Thursday at Pepsi Center.

Though he can opt out of the final year of his contract next summer, the All-Star swingman said he could see himself finishing his career with the Nuggets.

“We aren’t coming in to this thinking this is just a one-year deal,” Iguodala said. “We are looking to the future and definitely looking ahead, looking to see how we can go forward so this isn’t a quick stop for me.”

Even before he was traded from Philadelphia to Denver as part of a four-team deal on Aug. 10, Iguodala said he had heard great things about the Nuggets. One of the endorsements came from former Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony, his teammate on the U.S. Olympic team.

“Carmelo actually spoke about coach (George) Karl before the trade,” Iguodala said. “We were just in the weight room talking basketball and I asked him about what Denver was like. He said I would be the perfect fit for coach Karl – like he and I would really gel together.”

If first impressions are any indication, Iguodala will fit in just fine.

During a whirlwind visit Thursday, he chatted with Karl about the Denver lifestyle and potential golf courses. Iguodala later shook hands with season ticket holders and thanked them for their support.

He even poked fun of his new boss, Nuggets president Josh Kroenke. The two met a few years ago at the wedding of a mutual friend. Kroenke was just getting his start in the NBA at that time.

“All he had was a Rolex (watch), some jeans and a white polo,” Iguodala said, drawing a laugh from Kroenke sitting to his right. “He said, ‘All I have is this Rolex and nothing else.’ We had a great time with one another and we bonded. How we came to this point is so funny.”

Kroenke is one of several familiar faces as Iguodala begins a new chapter in his career. He played with Nuggets point guard Andre Miller for three seasons in Philadelphia, and he got to know center JaVale McGee through USA Basketball.

Iguodala also shares a University of Arizona connection with Denver assistant coach/advance scout Jesse Mermuys.

“I know a few of the guys from different places,” Iguodala said. “I think we all have a respect for one another. I think they respect my game as well as I respect theirs. I just want to come in and work hard and (lead) that way. I’ve done that throughout my whole career – leading on the court first and everything else vocally comes after that.”

Though he’s only 28, Iguodala has the second-most NBA experience of anyone on the Nuggets’ roster (Miller leads the way with 13 years). He is a candidate to be a captain on a team with high expectations in the Western Conference.

“My focus is to help our team, not only to go out there and to play to the best of our abilities but to believe that we are going to put ourselves in contention to be at the top of the West, no matter what anybody else says,” Iguodala said. “We are going to go out there and play for one thing, and that is a championship.”

Iguodala’s ambition is among the many attributes the Nuggets love about him. They have long coveted his athleticism, rebounding, defensive prowess, playmaking skills and ability to get to the rim.

After past attempts to bring him to Denver, the Nuggets finally got their man.

“We’ve looked at different scenarios with our team, and he’s somebody that we can say we’ve had interest in,” Nuggets executive vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said. “We lost a couple really good players and good people in Al (Harrington) and Arron (Afflalo). We wish them luck, but Andre is good for us and we’re excited.”

Yes, the Nuggets and Iguodala hope this is just the beginning of a long-lasting relationship.