Andre Iguodala Doesn't Expect to Be a 76er for Long
The fit isn't there anymore.
He's not good enough to carry a young team just beginning a major rebuilding project -- and probably not patient enough to go through it -- but he's still good enough to have value around the league, fueling the daily speculation about his future.
Getting traded now almost sounds inevitable.
"I would love to stay in Philadelphia, but if I'm playing somewhere else, I definitely understand how that could happen. I know how the business works,'' he told FanHouse Friday night before his Sixers lost to the Heat, 99-90. "You have to be prepared for anything in this league. And I am. It's one of the first things you learn when you get here. Guys get traded on draft night.''
Iguodala, now in his seventh NBA season and all in Philadelphia, has grown weary of the losing. The Sixers (3-13) are the worst team in the Eastern Conference. They won just 27 games last season, and are likely to win even less this season.
They will fail to make the playoffs for the fourth time in his tenure. He never has been past the first round, and it's unlikely to happen with this team anytime soon.
The Sixers are pinning their future hopes not on veterans like Iguodala and Elton Brand, but on their budding young backcourt of Jrue Holiday, 20, and Evan Turner, 22.
His value now revolves more around the draft picks and salary cap relief he can bring in a trade than the points and rebounds he still can provide.
"I feel badly for Andre and Elton and some of our older guys,'' said Sixers coach Doug Collins. "I want this to change so they can taste winning again.''
Iguodala, who played well in a supporting role with USA Basketball at the World Championships this summer, is mired in a frustrating season.
Once a model of durability -- he missed just six games in his first six seasons combined -- he already has missed five this season because of tendinitis in his right Achilles.
He led the league in minutes played two seasons ago, and was second last season. This season he is averaging 36.6 minutes. And after averaging at least 17 points in each of the last four seasons, he is down to just 14.2 points now.
He had 20 points and nine rebounds Friday night, but it wasn't nearly enough for Philadelphia.
Although the Sixers re-signed him as a free agent before last season, believing he could be their centerpiece, his production hasn't matched his salary level. He has four years and $56 million remaining on his contract, making him very expendable.
As an athletic, 6-6 small forward, his skills are similar to Turner, the 6-7 shooting guard. And if Iguodala disappears, the Sixers already have third-year small forward Thaddeus Young awaiting a chance to become a starter.
It all points to a trade. Cleveland, Houston and New York all have expressed interest in his versatility and athleticism, and his skill set now looks more suited to a role as a second or third option.
"Losing like this is tough. It doesn't matter who you're playing with,'' Iguodala said. "I'm here trying to help the young guys. My whole thing is to go out there, and use this as a learning experience. I couldn't ask for a better job. I'm just happy now to be playing ball, wherever that will be.''