MIAMI (AP) — Each of the last nine NBA Finals have included either the Miami Heat or Andre Iguodala.
They’d like to go there together now.
Iguodala is about to get back on the floor, and the Heat are hoping that they’re closer to becoming legitimate contenders again. The trade sending Iguodala to Miami is official, finally getting completed on Thursday with league approval one day after the Heat struck a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies to land the 2015 NBA Finals MVP.
“He won, what, three championship rings?” Heat guard Goran Dragic said in Los Angeles after the deal was agreed upon. “Happy to have him. Can’t wait to pick his brain. He’s going to do great things for us.”
It ended up as a three-team deal: Miami sent Justise Winslow, James Johnson and Dion Waiters to Memphis, with the Grizzlies sending Iguodala, Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill to the Heat. The Grizzlies then flipped Johnson to Minnesota for Gorgui Dieng. The Grizzlies were also working on either waiving or buying out Waiters.
Before the deal got done, Iguodala agreed to a two-year, $30 million extension — the second of those years being at Miami’s option, with certain conditions. And all this happened with Miami up against a hard cap, the delicate situation being that the Heat had no ability to take on more salary than was being sent out.
Winslow knew he was leaving Miami for Memphis on Wednesday night, as evidenced by some social-media posts and a late-night visit to his now-former locker room to pack up his belongings and wish a security guard well.
“New opportunity, new beginning,” Winslow said in a video posted to his social media accounts early Thursday, after he went to the arena and cleaned out his locker.
Miami was working on including Oklahoma City in an element that could have brought Danilo Gallinari to the Heat. But nothing got completed, in part because the Heat and Gallinari didn’t come to terms on an extension.
Holding the team option for 2021-22 is a critical component of Iguodala’s extension for Miami, which intends to have maximum flexibility for free-agent shopping in the summer of 2021 and made clear to all teams in recent days — and even last summer — that it would not compromise those plans.
The 36-year-old Iguodala was traded to Memphis last summer. He did not play for the Grizzlies, after he and the team agreed that it would be best if he was sent elsewhere. It took seven months, but Miami became that next destination.
Winslow has been with the Heat for five seasons, missing most of his second season with a shoulder injury and missing most of this year with a back problem. Johnson was with Miami for parts of four seasons. Waiters, who had been suspended three times by the Heat this season, also was with Miami for parts of four years.
Combined, those three players had scored only 254 points for Miami this season.
Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said Crowder and Hill “really helped build something great here in Memphis.”
And Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks, who said earlier this week that he was looking forward to playing against Iguodala one day “and show him really what Memphis is about,” said he was eager to play with Winslow.
“We’re getting a good player,” Brooks said.
Miami will be the fourth team that Iguodala has suited up for, joining Philadelphia, Denver and Golden State. He has averaged 12.1 points in 1,108 career games, plus is a veteran of 145 playoff contests and was with the Warriors for all five of their NBA Finals runs over the last half decade.
He’s a three-time champion and two-time All-Defensive team member. The Heat went to the NBA Finals annually from 2011 through 2014, and Iguodala went there every season since with Golden State.
“I saw it and I was like, ‘OK,’” former Heat forward LeBron James, now of the Lakers, said when asked about the deal by reporters in Los Angeles on Thursday. “I think it makes them a better team because of his championship DNA. You add that to that championship culture down there. So it helps them right away.”