Denver Nuggets Andre Iguodala reacts against the Golden State Warriors during Game 6 of their NBA Western Conference quarter-final playoff basketball game in Oakland

Report: Andre Iguodala decides to opt out of final year of contract to enter free agency


It has always been a distinct possibility that Nuggets forward Andre Iguodala would choose to opt out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent.

The offseason moves of the front office in Denver, which included firing Coach of the Year George Karl and parting ways with Executive of the Year Masi Ujiri, likely made his decision that much easier.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

Denver Nuggets forward Andre Iguodala has decided to opt out of the final year of his contract and enter free agency, Yahoo! Sports has learned.

Iguodala, 29, promises to be one of the most desired players on the summer market. His agent, Rob Pelinka, informed Denver CEO Josh Kroenke of the plan in a meeting on Thursday in Los Angeles.

“We are fully aware of Andre’s intentions and he’s well aware of how much we want him back,” Kroenke told Yahoo! Sports Friday afternoon. “Andre us a huge priority for our organization.”

Iguodala stated as recently as the end of March that this was the plan, and while he would let the playoffs have some influence over whether or not he’d play out the final year of a deal that would have paid him $15.9 million next season, it wouldn’t have been the most prudent move financially.

Even though his next contract will start at less than what he was slated to earn next season, signing a multi-year deal now guarantees Iguodala much more money in the future.

Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, he can sign a four-year deal with a new team, or get an extra year by choosing to stay with the Nuggets. Had he not chosen to opt out, Iguodala would only have been eligible for a three-year extension.

Iguodala will be coveted, but it’s a relatively crowded free agent class, especially if the big names decide to truly test the market. Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Josh Smith are among the guys Iguodala will be competing with for the dollars available under the salary cap.

It’ll be interesting to see what effect if any all of the recent changes in Denver have on the team’s ability to retain Iguodala, and whether or not the Nuggets will come up with the right amount of cash to retain his services.

Iguodala averaged 13 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game in Denver last season, but his athleticism and ability to defend on the wing are the assets that will have several teams interested in him beginning July 1.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”

Knicks’ Rookie Jerian Grant gets up, throws it down (VIDEO)

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The Knicks did well trading for Jerian Grant on date night — he’s going to be able to walk in this year and play quality minutes off the bench.

And, he can get up and throw it down.

Carmelo Anthony had 18 points to lead the Knicks to a 94-88 win over the Sixers.