If Iguodala retires as expected, Warriors’ Kerr loses trusted ally

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If Iguodala retires as expected, Warriors’ Kerr loses trusted ally originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

If Andre Iguodala were to reach out to Steve Kerr this week expressing interest in the Warriors’ 14th and almost certainly final roster spot, it’s conceivable the coach would respond with a “hallelujah.” Or something close.

That’s because Kerr has coached more than 100 players since coming to Golden State in 2014 and holds none in higher esteem than Iguodala, who respects and appreciates the coach. Kerr’s lofty regard runs much deeper than statistics.

But such a phone call would surprise Kerr and most everyone operating out of Chase Center. Warriors CEO Joe Lacob thinks Andre will retire. General manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. anticipates the same, commenting on a recent “Dubs Talk” podcast that “Andre’s probably got some other stuff going.”

In short, Iguodala is always welcome but not expected to be in the gym when camp opens on Oct. 2.

Iguodala has not revealed his plans, likely saving such an announcement for a future “Point Forward” podcast. But as the 39-year-old ponders his many options, it’s reasonable to believe he will conclude there are more reasons to retire than to keep playing.

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The family factor could be in play, particularly as Iguodala’s son, Andre II, makes his way through the prep basketball ranks. After attracting attention last season at Head-Royce, a small private school emphasizing academics in Oakland, the 6-foot-7 junior could be bound for an environment placing a higher priority on hoops.

Has Dad Andre had enough of watching development from afar? Might he consider spending more one-on-one hoops time with a teenage son whose youthful dreams mirror his own?

That could be enough to tempt Iguodala to walk away from the NBA after 19 seasons.

Yet Iguodala’s competitive nature also could be in play. Last season was expected to be his last and he appeared in only eight games, playing a total of 113 minutes. He watched the playoffs — where his value increases — from the bench, recovering from surgery to repair a fractured left wrist.

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Proud players want to go out on their feet, and Iguodala has no shortage of pride.

There is another factor that could complicate things if Iguodala were to seek another season. Chris Paul now is on the Golden State roster.

Many of the attributes that made Paul so appealing to the Warriors this summer match those that made Iguodala so attractive last summer. Mentorship tools. Intellect. Leadership. Propensity to maximize the strengths of teammates. Ability to read both the locker room and the playing floor.

Coaches, of course, place a premium on such players. It’s a bit like having an assistant on the floor, maybe in the rotation. Kerr often referred to Andre as “the adult in the room.”

The Warriors last season paid Iguodala $2.9 million for a one-year vet minimum contract. This season, they’re paying Paul $30.8 million for one guaranteed year. They’re investing 10 times as much in CP3 to provide similar skills but also anticipate he will play in more games and heavier minutes.

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On Golden State’s current roster, Paul basically slides into the slot formerly occupied by Iguodala. The team’s resident sage. The old head capable of sharing the floor with starters or reserves. One such player usually is enough.

The Warriors have 13 players under guaranteed contracts, with shooting guard Lester Quiñones holding one of their three two-way contracts. All indications are they will open the season with 14. They have spent significant time in recent weeks evaluating prospects in search of Mr. 14.

The search for Mr. 14 last season ended two days before training camp, when Iguodala announced he would be returning. The Warriors rejoiced. Nobody was more euphoric than Kerr.

A repeat this month is unlikely. Highly unlikely. Both sides seem to sense this, but nothing is locked in until Iguodala delivers the official word.

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