Free agency is basically over so teams looking to improve must resort to the trading block. That’s why our A Walk Around The Block series will take a look at different aspects of the trading block, from players likely to move and teams that might make moves to reasons why these trades may happen and some fun trade proposals of our own. Today we look at Philly’s miscast franchise player, Andre Iguodala.
(AP Photo/John Raoux)
A 6’6” wing with unfathomable athleticism, the first thing that pops into your head when you say “Andre Iguodala” is freak of nature. Not of Lebron-ian proportions, but as close as you’ll probably get. The man just doesn’t break – playing 486 games of a possible 492 throughout his career, and averaging 38.1 minutes a night. If you have Iggy, you have him 82 times a year.
In today’s injury plagued NBA, that’s almost as valuable as what he actually brings to the table.
And he brings quite a lot, on both ends of the floor. With his unique combination of size and speed, Iggy is one of the best perimeter defenders the league can offer. He can be counted on to guard the opponent’s best perimeter player night in and night out – a commitment far from trivial among today’s top players.
His numbers don’t scream defensive superstar – the 1.8 steals per night he averages over his career are impressive, and his already stellar rebounding has improved even more last season (6.5 boards a game, 5.5 defensively, up from 5.7 and 4.6 in 2008-09 despite playing one minute less), but one wants more than a block every two games from a player of his physical stature. And yet, as is the case so many times when discussing defense, the numbers hardly do him justice. Iggy has the little things down. He commits only 1.8 fouls per game despite constantly trying to stay in front of the best foul drawers this league has to offer, or getting 2.6 deflections a night (per Hoopsdata.com).
Conversely, it seems that on offense, Iggy’s stats go too far the other way. Chances are every single NBA fan had more than a few games where he or she would watch Iguodala all night and come out unimpressed, only to check the box score after the game and wonder how the hell he missed that near triple-double, before double-checking the game tape and realizing that those numbers didn’t help the team as much as they should.
The truth, as always, is somewhere in the middle.
Iguodala has excellent court vision and is one of the best wing passers this league has, clocking in at nearly 5.8 assists per night with a mad impressive 23.57 assist ratio (0.15 better than LeBron James, for the sake of comparison). You’re probably in trouble if he’s your premier ball handler, but you could do worse than his 10.9 turnover rate. He is a monster in transition, usually dunking the ball before the other team even knows possession has switched. And yet, he is a terribly inefficient scorer, posting only a 53.5 true shooting percentage last season. As most TS%s go, this stems mostly from shooting too many threes (only 31% off 3.7 attempts a night) and long twos (39%, 4.3 attempts) while not getting to the free-throw line enough (5.2 attempts per night, which is nice, but he has already posted seasons of 6.2, 6.4 and 7.3 attempts a game, so we know he can do better).
There are two mitigating factors here for Iggy in all this.
First, 2009-10 was by all means a down season for him. If you go back to 2009-10, his TS% was a much better (though still troubling) 56%. One sees that throughout 2009-10, Iggy drove to the hoop much less often (4.9 shots a night at the rim in 2008-09, 3.9 in 2009-10), and converted those shots at a much lesser rate (73% and 68.5%, respectively). This is a trend that has been going on for some time; in 2006-07 Igy’s TS% was 56.3%, and in 2007-08 it was 54.3%.
I have no idea why Iguodala is less efficient in even years than in odd ones, but it does bode well for this season.
The other mitigating factor is that Iguodala is forced to create most of his team’s shots – either for himself or for his teammates. And as most NBA stars are prone to do, this leads to a certain type of laziness, where he would rather launch shots from far away than take it to the rim. The trouble here, of course, is that he’s just not a good outside shooter.
But if you look all the way back to his first two seasons in the league – way back when his shots were being created by the likes of Allen Iverson and Chris Webber, and not by himself – one sees Iggy’s best shooting percentages of his career. In his rookie and sophomore seasons, respectively, he posted true shooting percentages of 58% and 59.8%, field goal percentages of 49.3% and 50%, and three-point percentages of of 33.1% and 35.4%. Those are all by far better than his past four seasons — and they give us hope that Iguodala’s shooting can again improve around better teammates.
With two very capable young creators in Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, Iguodala might get more open shots (of course, with Doug Collins as coach, he may be left on the isolation 30 times a night, but we’re glass half full). If he can get back to to the vicinity of those numbers from the outside, while making a conscious effort to get to the rim and to the line, and still creating for his teammates at a rate most wing players can’t even dream of, we’re talking about a perennial All-Star, not a perennial snub.
Problems like ego and habit may stop him from changing his game back to how he played as an unproven youngster – and of course, it’s much easier to shoot better as a third option who takes 7-9 shots a game, and not as a star who takes 14-16 shots a game. But the ability is there. And the benefits that both he and his team will reap from such a mental switch would be huge.
Throw everything together and what you get is the rare type of player who is somehow both overrated and underrated at the same time. Considering the logical implications of a single entity simultaneously meeting criteria for two conflicting states of being, one would be inclined to say that Iguodala could bring the universe as we know it to an end.
I’ve always wanted to finish a scouting report with that statement.
Will He Be Traded? Should He Be Traded?
Iguodala has seemingly been on the trading block ever since his rookie deal expired and was replaced by a 6-year, $80 million contract. At the time, the extension combined with the signing of Elton Brand should have vaulted the Sixers into the East’s top group. (Read this. It will make you laugh unless you’re a Sixers fan.)
Of course, when you think you’re building a perennial contender, overpaying comes much easier than when you’re a lottery team. With Brand breaking down and the Sixers going nowhere, Igoudala quickly acquired that dreaded “he’s getting paid like a franchise player but he’s not a franchise player” label. The fact that he was supposed to be Brand’s second banana and has held his part of the bargain is irrelevant – his contract is worth more money than he his, and his team is terrible despite his presence.
This means he is the bad kind of overpaid. And what happens when 26-year-olds are overpaid on teams with high payrolls and no hope for success? Well, they should be traded.
Whether they actually are traded depends on the thinking of their front office, however. And Philly’s front office has declined to trade Iggy despite numerous potential suitors. I have no official information as to what offers were made and how serious they were, but Iggy-for-Amar’e rumors were all over the place last February (how weird is that?), the Cavs were supposedly in play for Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ then-expiring contract, and ditto for the Houston Rockets and Tracy McGrady. All throughout, there was a common theme from the men in charge: we will not trade Andre for cap relief and nothing else.
Will this change? No one knows.
On the one hand, Philly drafted Evan Turner, yet another ball-handling swingman with no outside shot. Logic dictates that if you want Turner to develop – and you want him to, because he’s a star in the making – you move the similar veteran who will take away his touches. All the more so when that veteran is making three times as much as your youngster.
Of course, on the other hand (that’s the third hand for those scoring at home), the high profile hiring of Doug Collins as coach hardly screams “let’s rebuild.” And given Collins’ former broadcasting gig – which I would assume is his for the taking whenever he wants it back – the Sixers might not want to give him any motivation to leave by moving their best player. A player who, despite making more money than he would in an ideal world, is still the biggest draw for paying fans to come see the team.
So should Andre Iguodala be traded? Yes. Just like he should have been traded last season.
Will he? That depends on how committed Philly is to building something new over treading water.
The Asking Price
First and foremost, Philly would want cap relief.
This is a team on the verge of playing the luxury tax. Next season doesn’t look much better: the Sixers have slightly under $53 million already on the books for just eight players, assuming Philly picks up Marreese Speights and Jrue Holiday’s options (a no brainer). Throw in extension-eligible players Thaddeus Young (should get an extension), Spencer Hawes (might get one) and Jason Smith (will probably be let go, barring a breakout year), and the fiscal picture seems quite grim.
As such, expiring contracts would have to be a major part of any Iguodala package. If the Sixers find anybody who would take Elton Brand off their hands, they will pull the trigger before getting off the phone. I’d assume that by now, however, the Sixers realize that’s just super-mega-gravy. Getting Andres Nocioni’s deal (2-years, $13.5 million, with a $7.5 million team option on year three) will be more realistic. If Philly can strike a deal with a team under the cap (say, the Kings/Wolves/Wizards), they might also ask that team to take on the last years of Jason Kapono and Willie Green’s pointless deals, but I assume that would hardly be a sticking point.
From here on out, the search is for as many young prospects and draft picks as the Sixers can find. Whether a deal can be struck with just cap relief remains to be seen, but with Philly’s existing young core currently consisting of Jrue/Lou Williams/Turner/Young Thad/Speights/Hawes, one must assume that they will gladly accept young talent at any position except for the point.
You know, beggars can’t be choosers and stuff.
At 26-years-old, Igoudala is just young enough to make sense for a semi-rebuilding squad … barely. If a squad is on the verge of/one year away from Playoff contention and are only projected to get better from there, he can be the guy that puts them in the postseason. But on a team going nowhere, he’s no better than he is in Philly.
In Sacramento or New Jersey, for example, he can be a great third star to complement young pieces like Tryeke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins or Devin Harris and Brook Lopez. On a team that has very little going for it in the immediate future, however, (cough, Minnesota, cough, Toronto), he will waste away.
Of course, even if you think Iggy is the final piece in your rebuilding puzzle, at his price, you better be right. If you gamble on him to elevate your squad, and it doesn’t work out, you’re pretty much in the same situation Philly is now. All this means that, like in so many of these cases, he is best suited for a team with extremely deep pockets, preferably one that is good enough without him to afford failure.
The following are a few random ideas. And, as always, the come along with the disclaimer that nobody should take them seriously.
Trade #1 – The Rockets trade Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger, Jared Jefferies and one or two first-round picks (either their own or New York’s) for Andre Iguodala
If this looks awfully similar to the Rockets trade I suggested for Carmelo Anthony … well, it’s because it is. But that’s Daryl Morey in a nutshell for you. The Rockets have so many assets – expiring contracts, promising youngsters that they can afford to let go, you name it – that they promise to appear on most fake trade lists that A Walk Around The Block will offer.
This one pretty much gives Philly everything they need. Cap relief? Check. Youngsters? Check. Draft picks? Check. It’s a great deal for them, with the only question being whether Morey wants to give up that much. Iguodala will be a great fit with the Rockets. His driving and creating would be a perfect complement to Kevin Martin and Aaron Brooks’ outside shooting, and his defense would make him the heir apparent to Shane Battier. He can also allow the Rockets to be more of a run-and-gun team whenever Yao Ming is on the bench since he is so good in transition and both Houston point guards (Brooks and Kyle Lowry) are lightning quick.
Speaking of run-and-gun …
Trade #2 – The Knicks trade Eddy Curry, Wilson Chanlder and Ronny Turiaf for Andre Iguodala and Andres Nocioni
The Knicks are shooting high with the names they’re throwing out there, from Chris Paul to Melo to Tony Parker. As such, committing to Iggy might come as a disappointment. I see it the other way around; the Knicks’ aspirations are too high, so by going for a lesser profile name in Iggy, they could reduce the price they are paying.
Unlike the Nuggets and Spurs (and to a lesser extent, the Hornets), the Sixers actually need the cap relief that Eddy Curry’s expiring contract provides. Very much so. Throw in the willingness to take on Andres Nocioni’s contract — which expires in 2012, allowing the Knicks to maintain their delusions of signing Chris Paul – and a solid young wing player to replace Iguodala in Chandler (I would assume the Sixers can ask for Bill Walker instead and the Knicks won’t mind), and this works very well.
As for the Knicks? Iguodala would be perfect for D’Antoni ball, flying up and down the court, setting up Amar’e and Gallo, and actually playing defense for a change. With Raymond Felton and Anthony Randolph filling in the starting five, and with Tony Douglas, Roger Mason Jr., Bill Walker, Nocioni and Timofey Mozgov off the bench, the Knicks should establish themselves as a Playoff squad in the ever improving East.
Trade #3 – The Mavs trade Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson for Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand
Yeah, I know I said nobody will ever take Brand. And Maverick fans are probably screaming in horror right now. But hear me out.
The Mavericks have done nothing but go all in for years. From the Jason Kidd trade to the Caron Butler trade to offering every center on their roster ridiculous amounts of money, their motto has always been sparing no expense to win before Dirk Nowitzki’s window is closed. And it’s rapidly closing anyway.
Caron Butler, brought in to be the wing man that creates offense, disappointed last season. It really isn’t fair to be disappointed – after all, he came to a new team, had to learn a new playbook and really wasn’t far off from the ability he displayed in Washington before the trade that brought him to Dallas – but the bottom line is that the Mavs didn’t go as far as they hoped the trade would get them.
You know who can fill the role Caron didn’t? Iggy. Ten fold. And along with Shawn Marion, he can give them an elite wing-tandem defensively. He can also run on the break with Jason Kidd and Jason Terry and several other Jasons of your choice.
Is this a ridiculous gamble? A financial blunder of epic proportions that even Mark Cuban would be scared to take? Of course. In fact, it’s utterly idiotic in every way. But if you’re Dallas, Michael Finley-circa-2003 isn’t walking through that door. You have to gamble for that shot at a ring, and Iggy gives it to you. And when you have probably the only owner in the league that can allow himself to take on the Brand albatross, you can take that chance. That stupid, foolish, so-crazy-it-just-might-work chance.
Nobody can honestly tell if Iguodala will still be in Philly when the season ends because the 76ers have insisted on showing no sign of front office consistency throughout the past few years. From win-now moves like hiring Collins to rebuilding moves like letting Andre Miller and Samuel Dalembert go to PR moves like signing Allen Iverson to just plain “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? NO! NOOOO!!!!!!!!” moves like the numerous cap-killing contracts they have accumulated over the years, they are just too random to predict anything.
That being said, I would assume that Iggy starts his seventh season where he spent the first six.
You don’t hire a new, big name coach and deprive him of his best player before seeing how they mesh. I doubt that it works well – the Sixers just aren’t good enough – but they will continue to strive for that lower seed playoff spot, as if nothing happened. If and when things go down the drain, whether it’s an early yet season-killing losing streak or friction between Iguodala and Turner on the court, numerous suitors will be waiting.