Andre Iguodala ponders Warriors return, not looking to take coaching route

STATELINE, Nev. — After 18 NBA seasons, the last of which was with the Warriors and required more time in the training room than on the court, Andre Iguodala is pondering the obvious.

He’s 38 years old. Maybe he will withdraw. Maybe he won’t. He’s thinking about it. He’s not thinking about it.

“I like basketball,” Iguodala told NBC Sports Bay Area on the latest episode of “Dubs Talk,” recorded from the American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. “I actually like training, too. Summer training is probably the hardest thing. People don’t understand that to really get ready for a season what your body has to go through.

“I’m trying to reflect on the season, enjoy it, enjoy being a champion. And if that time comes … I don’t know if it’s going to be a tough decision, but I’m ready for whatever.”

Iguodala is, however, certain that he wants no part of the role that seems most fitting should he return to the Warriors next season: Player-coach.

That was his unofficial capacity last season with Golden State, and it’s not unlike that in which Udonis Haslem has willingly served the Miami Heat for not one or two years, but the last six.

“I’ve got to kill that one,” Iguodala said. “I don’t think people understand what Udonis does for the team. He and I have been talking the past couple weeks. We always keep in touch. That’s my man.

“But people don’t understand what goes into that.”

Prior to signing with the Warriors last summer, Iguodala spent two seasons as Haslem’s teammate with the Heat. He was a firsthand witness to Haslem’s rituals, from the 5 am wakeup calls to attending every practice to always being ready despite playing only 58 of 525 games (including postseason) since 2015-16.

“That’s a testament to him, to his work ethic,” Iguodala said.

It’s not that Iguodala believes such annual dedication is too demanding for someone who rarely leaves the bench. He simply does not want any official association with coaching.

“The thing that I don’t want to see misconstrued, or I don’t want the perception thrown out there, is that I’m a coach,” he said, describing himself as a businessman who plays basketball. “I don’t want to get thrown into the ‘just go coach.’ That’s not a route I’m looking forward to taking. Not at all.”

Yet the Warriors, particularly the young players, consistently praised Iguodala’s guidance, attention to the details and, above all, his ability convey salient points that helped them improve.

“We had a great mentoring system in place this year with all these young guys playing with our vets who had seen it all,” coach Steve Kerr said a couple days before the NBA Finals. “Andre, in particular, was just incredible this year and continues to be so with his counseling and advice.

“He does it in a way only Andre can, with humor and sarcasm and cryptic messaging.”

Third-year guard Jordan Poole last season evolved from rotation player to potential star. He gained from tips offered by his personal coach, Chris DeMarco, and also members of the player-development staff.

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But every young NBA player has a “vet,” someone who shows them the way. It’s tradition, and it can involve everything from fetching doughnuts to taking in sage advice. Poole acknowledged last season that his vet was Iguodala.

“Just asking questions and getting his insight,” Poole said after Game 1 of the Finals. “Finding ways to learn from the film and my own team. Just trying to better myself as a player and the whole team.”

Iguodala, considered among the most astute minds in the league, didn’t hesitate to dispense advice to Andrew Wiggins, only 27 years old but an eight-year vet. The same applied to teenage lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.

Kuminga was drafted at age 18. When coaches and training staff issued lockers to the rookies, it was not by coincidence that his was right next to that of Iguodala.

Recognizing their place in the pecking order, Iguodala understood how he could help the youngsters. And when.

“They’re supposed to be on college campuses learning about themselves, learning who they are as people, learning what they like, learning what they don’t like,” he said on Finals Media Day. “Instead, they’re these guys making five-plus million dollars a year. Got all the pressures, the madness of having money and being in the spotlight.”

Whether Iguodala will return to the Warriors next season will be determined in the coming weeks. If he does, it’s because he wants to play. The coaching, like it or not, will come naturally.

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