Iguodala: Mo' Money, No Problems - Yet
PHILADELPHIA - Three of the four members of the 2004 NBA draft class that Gilbert Arenas chastised last summer for balking at contracts exceeding $50 million - Emeka Okafor, Andre Iguodala and Luol Deng were the others - came out pretty big winners this offseason as restricted free agents. The other, Ben Gordon, continues to hold out with training camp underway.
Philadelphia's Iguodala scored the largest haul when he re-signed with the 76ers for six-years and $80-million contract in late August. Iguodala was asked at media day this week how much his life has changed since signing the deal and he smiled. "It's still the same," he said. "Those checks haven't come yet. I'm still on the same budget, so it hasn't hit me yet."
Those checks will start rolling in soon enough.
At the time he signed the deal - which was worth almost $23 million more than the Sixers offered him last summer - Iguodala made a special shout out to his fellow Arizona alum on his personal website, "There were many (Gilbert Arenas) who thought I was crazy for turning down the deal last summer, but it seems it has worked out the way I planned. There are many risks when playing out a contract, but the main thing I wanted to do was go out and prove I was a valuable player in this league and never doubt the decision my agent and I made."
Iguodala is just 24 and he has improved in each of his first four seasons in the NBA, helping Philadelphia advance to the postseason as a jack-of-all-trades swingman by averaging 19.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.1 steals. The addition of Elton Brand has freed Igoudala from the burden of having to be the face of the franchise, which should work to his advantage and allow him to roam free and pick his spots.
But Iguodala understands that he has more to accomplish with the large contract than when he was just trying to earn it. "Having something to prove last year, with the whole contract thing and it's the same this year, having something to prove, that we're a good team, that I'm a high caliber player in this league," Iguodala said this week. "The next level for me is to just continue to help this organization grow and get to higher heights. It's not just about me - of course I have my individual goals, but those can be accomplished by how our team performs. So, the more me win, the better for Andre Iguodala."
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