Reports have come out that Andre Iguodala, referred to here on out as AI, will be opting out of the last year of his contract with the Denver Nuggets. With the Nuggets recent loss of both their GM and Asst. GM, along with Coach George Karl AI’s interest in staying with Denver may have waned some. Even if it hasn’t its a smart financial decision for him to make as he will probably find himself with a long term contract with a yearly value similar to that which he gave up for only one year. In the above picture AI could be easily be asking himself the question, “Who will I be playing for next year?”
The Cleveland Cavaliers have long been in need of a starting level small forward, ever since #23 turned into #6 and left for Miami. As as much today “reports” have come out that the Cavs plan to pursue AI if he opts out of his contract. This rumor will probably only increase if the Cavs pass on drafting Otto Porter, the best small forward in the draft, and instead go with current favorite Nerlens Noel. Fans would have visions of a starting lineup of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, AI, Tristan Thompson and Nerlens Noel with a bench of Anderson Varejao, Tyler Zeller, Alonzo Gee, CJ Miles, Wayne Ellignton and another rookie or two. The athleticism and talent of that starting lineup would be off the charts.
How it would work?
Irving, Waiters and AI would provide great driving to the hole. Irving and Waiters, with a hopefully improved shooting percentages, would provide some outside shooting. Thompson, Varejao and later Noel would provide a inside presence especially on defense and quality pick and roll partners for Irving and the wing players. The two greatest impact areas with AI is his slashing and his defense. With Mike Brown coming back to coach defense will be a priority, and is needed to be. If Brown can coax a quality performance from Irving and Waiters a front court of AI, Thompson and Noel/Varejao should be able to shut down the interior for the team.
How it could fail?
With slashers at the 1 and 2 and limited range offensive players at the 4 and 5 a shooter at the small forward position that can stretch the floor may be a better fit. While AI has some shooting ability he is not a knock down shooter and has always been more comfortable slashing and scoring. The proposed starting lineup, whether with Noel or Varejao, would only have Irving as a proven shooter. Waiters seems to have the skills to be a quality shooter, and off-season video shows that he is working on jumping straight up and not falling away when he shoots, his rookie year percentages were not impressive.
The Lebron Question
The addition of AI could limit the Cavs ability to add Lebron in the Summer of 2014. First the Cavs would be limited by cap space if AI gets the type of contract he probably would be seeking. Also, while not at LBJ’s level, AI provides similar skills that #6 does making them redundant. If Dan Gilbert is serious about making the playoffs this year AI may be a addition to expect and the future with Lebron to be addressed later, if at all.
Odds of happening?
The odds are probably less then 50%. The Cavs have not shown a desire to make a big free agent acquisition this summer. All signs have pointed to saving their cap space for one of the starts in 2014, losing this space for a quality player not at the highest superstar level doesn’t make alot of sense. A trade for Danny Granger, and his 1 year contract, makes more sense in this regard. Also while the team does not want to plan its future around Lebron, they know the problems this can cause, they don’t seem to want to eliminate his return as a possibility.
Stay tuned for a deeper look at what the Cavs could like if they added AI, including the possibility as a title contender by 2014-2015.