DENVER (AP) – Andre Iguodala says he doesn’t want Denver to be just a stopover. The Nuggets wholeheartedly agree.
The Nuggets acquired the All-Star swingman from Philadelphia in the blockbuster trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Iguodala is under contract for this season with a player option for 2013-14. At his introductory news conference at the Pepsi Center on Thursday, he said he told Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri he wants to be here a while.
“We weren’t coming into this thinking this will be a one-year deal,” Iguodala said. “… This is definitely a place that I can see myself for more than just a year or two.”
Ujiri said he’ll work on an extension this upcoming season for the defensive-minded star who helped the U.S. win the gold medal at the London Olympics.
PHOTO GALLERY: Iguodala Arrives In Denver, Poses For Photos
Iguodala said he sought out Carmelo Anthony while in London to ask him about Denver and coach George Karl.
Don’t worry, Nuggets fans, Melo didn’t rip his old coach.
“He said I would be a perfect fit for Coach Karl. We two would really gel together,” Iguodala recounted.
Iguodala knows Melo and Karl had their moments, both good and bad, together.
“It’s the nature of basketball sometimes, every player and coach are going to have run-ins. George Karl made him a better player and Melo made him a better coach,” Iguodala said. “He had nothing but good things to say about Coach Karl. Seattle was my favorite team growing up so I know a little bit about Coach Karl and his history. He’s one of the best coaches in the game, well-respected by much of his peers and much of his players.”
When Iguodala spoke with Karl by phone, the coach “didn’t sugarcoat anything,” telling the All-Star he needed to get to the line more and knock down his free throws, Iguodala said.
“Iggy” is Karl’s kind of guy: versatile, tough. He plays lockdown defense and darts upcourt in transition with equal enthusiasm.
“You just run fast, it’s pretty simple,” Iguodala said. “Especially with the two point guards we have in Ty (Lawson) and Andre Miller. The pass ahead is really what gets it going.”
Sixers coach Doug Collins had high praise for Iguodala this week.
“The thing I’m happy about for Dre is he went through a lot in this city, about living up to his contract. All I know is the last two years, he ends up as a world champion, a gold medalist, an All-Star, a second-team all-league defender,” Collins said. “And what a great thing it was for him to walk to the line against Chicago (in the playoffs) and make two free throws to put us into the next round. I’m so happy those great things happened for him. He made me a better coach and I hope along the way I helped him a little bit.”
Indeed, he did.
“My game has really picked up in the NBA,” Iguodala said. “My whole life I’ve felt like I can do anything on the basketball court, from playing point guard in high school to having to play center one year in high school, doing everything in college and going through different roles in Philadelphia. Coming in being a rookie, just a defensive stopper and having to be a scorer for three or four years in between there. I’ve got a lot of confidence that I’ll be able to take the big shot or make the play that gets us the shot.”
The last A.I. the Nuggets brought in from Philly – Allen Iverson – played in 144 games for them, including playoffs.
They’re counting on this union lasting much longer.
By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Pro Football Writer … AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston and AP freelancer Joseph C.DeBaca contributed to this report.
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