Andre Iguodala

Andre Iguodala confirms he plans to opt out after season

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Odds are Andre Iguodala is back in Nuggets powder blue (and sometimes bright yellow) next season. There is a real fit there — on an up-tempo team he provides an athletic slashing scorer and perimeter defender they need to reach the top levels of the conference.

But the Nuggets are going to have to pony up a big wad of cash for the next four years or so to keep him.

Iguodala confirmed to Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida he likely will do what we all expected — opt out of the $16.1 million he is owed next season to seek a long-term deal. And yes, Iguodala knows that his next deal is not likely to start at $16.1 million.

“Yeah, definitely,’’ Iguodala, 29, said of that being a distinct possibility. “You got to weigh options. Security-wise, a player would opt, especially with the type of season we’ve had as a team. Teams know what I can bring to them, and I know (the Nuggets) know what I can bring to a team here.

“Players get like $50, $60 or $70 or $80 (million over multiple years), whatever the number was, they gave up a big number (in an option season by opting out). But in the grand scheme of things, pretty much get it back. You got security.’’

Denver’s front office has known this was coming since they jumped in the Andrew Bynum/Dwight Howard trade to get him. They certainly have a number in mind — with Iguodala off the books they would have about $52.5 million on the books for the next season, so they have the room to bring Iggy back and tweak the roster in other places. The Nuggets will not want to pay the luxury tax but that likely will be in the $72 million a year ballpark next season.

Of course, there is a chance a team other than the Nuggets could come in with a bigger offer. But Iggy likes where he’s at.

“My main goal is, if we win here, everything will take care of itself, no matter what,’’ Iguodala said. “I want to play for a team where I have an impact on the game without even scoring … I feel like if I win (with the Nuggets), I won’t have to worry about having to prove my worth.

“Obviously, it’s a business, so you’re going to look at your options. Here we have some good (prospects). But I’m not making any promises. But I’ve liked the last month and a half, two months, three months or however long (that Denver has been on a roll). It’s important for the future, so I’m just trying to win.’’

Iggy also said he would like to get back in the fold with Team USA — he won a gold medal in Turkey in 2010 at the World Championships with the squad and another in London at the Olympics. On a team that likes to run and needs good perimeter defenders he is a good fit, but it will depend on the team makeup and how many of the superstars of the game decide to play in 2014 for the next round of World Championships.

But that’s a summer away. Right now it is the playoffs then an interesting summer that are on Iguodala’s plate.

TNT to cover NBA games with only former players, no traditional play-by-play men

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19:  Grant Hill #33 of the Phoenix Suns looks to move the ball as Derek Fisher #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers defends in the first quarter of Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 19, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) — TNT will use broadcast teams featuring only former players and no traditional play-by-play men during five NBA doubleheaders later this season.

The “Players Only” schedule runs Monday nights from Feb. 27 to March 27 and includes matchups such as Golden State-Oklahoma City on March 20 and Cleveland-San Antonio a week later.

Brent Barry will serve as the primary host of one team with Derek Fisher and Grant Hill, while Greg Anthony partners with Kevin McHale and Richard Hamilton on the other.

Lisa Leslie and Dennis Scott will serve as reporters.

Turner Sports says Thursday that Chris Webber will anchor the studio coverage with Isiah Thomas and Baron Davis, and that additional NBA players will contribute to the five-week program.

James Harden presents fan with game ball on her 100th birthday (video)

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HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden took some time out after the Houston Rockets’ win over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks to give a fan a present on a her 100th birthday.

Video shows Harden signing a ball for the woman and spending a few moments sitting next to her in her courtside seat and posing for pictures Wednesday night.

Harden told ESPN’s Doris Burke in an interview that he told the woman how “blessed” he was to be able to have a chance to meet her.

The Houston guard also put on a good show for the fan during the game, scoring 38 points in a 111-92 victory over the Bucks.

Paul George dunks on DeMarcus Cousins while getting whacked in the face (video)

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Kings center DeMarcus Couins appears set to become the first player to sign as a veteran designated player. The Pacers hope Paul George will follow.

But in the Pacers’ win over the Kings yesterday, George beat Cousins.

Not even Cousins thwacking George in the face could stop this dunk.

Report: Khris Middleton could return to Bucks before All-Star break

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 16:  Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts during their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 16, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The Bucks projected Khris Middleton to miss about 70 games when he tore his hamstring before the season. That extended absence often leads players just to shut down for the year, but Middleton vowed to return in time for the playoffs.

He might get back far sooner than that.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star ‎break.

Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.

The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.