SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Veteran swingman Andre Iguodala says his trade to the Miami Heat got him “excited about basketball again,” and that he is looking forward to the opportunity to play with a young and hungry new group.
“I kind of got excited about basketball again,” Iguodala told ESPN, when asked about how he fits with the Heat. “Playing with [the Golden State Warriors], we go to the Finals every year, and the media scrutiny behind every single move — you get exhausted. You’ve had a good break, but then you kind of see where the game’s trending, you don’t know, it’s like, ‘Where do I fit in?’ And it’s kind of a blessing in disguise, like this is the perfect spot. I can do a lot of different things here. A lot of different things. It doesn’t have to be just defense or just passing. Or just in the corners. It’s going to be good. It’s going to be good. I’m going to do a lot of different things.”
Iguodala, who was sent to Miami as part of a package from the Memphis Grizzlies that included Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill, seemed very happy with the way his situation played out as he walked out of Golden1 Center in Sacramento on Friday night. He is enjoying the idea of playing the role of strong mentor for another up-and-coming team. He’s also excited about the chance to talk to Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler, much like he did with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green during a six-year run with the Warriors.
After he earned three NBA championships and the 2015 Finals MVP award with Golden State, many around the league expected Iguodala to eventually find his way back to the Warriors after this season. It’s a topic that gave Iguodala a chuckle late Friday. He agreed to a two-year, $30 million extension with the Heat after the trade was completed, a deal that includes a team option for the 2021-22 season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
“So I had that conversation with somebody and I was like — I don’t know where that came from,” Iguodala said of the speculation surrounding a potential reunion with the Warriors down the line. “That was an interesting one. I kept seeing [the rumors], but you know me, I kept quiet in terms of basketball this whole time. It was the Lakers all the time, or it was the Clippers the next day, and then it was, ‘No, he ain’t going nowhere, he’s going back to the Warriors.’ That one just kept popping up, and I don’t know where that one got legs. That was interesting, but I think everybody just got kind of thrown off by surprise with this move, which I think sometimes is a blessing in disguise, you don’t know what’s coming, and then boom the right opportunity comes by, and I think this is the right move.”
Iguodala is also looking forward to Monday’s game against the Warriors, his first one against his old team in the new Chase Center, but notes that the occasion isn’t going to feel as emotional given that he has stayed close with former Warriors teammates and coaches throughout the year as he waited for his situation with the Grizzlies to unfold.
“I was [in the area] though so I was keeping in touch with all the guys,” Iguodala said. “And then I went to an Arizona game there [at Chase Center]. So I talk to the guys all the time. I’ve played in like 1,100 basketball games so it’s all blending together now.”
Iguodala said his body is feeling good after his long layoff and is hopeful to be make his Heat debut Sunday when they face the Portland Trail Blazers, but he wants to see how Saturday’s practice with his new team goes before making a final decision.
“I don’t know,” Iguodala said of his status for Sunday. “We got to figure that out. I haven’t played in a while. [Saturday’s] going to be good though. [Saturday’s] going to be good.”