Warriors' Andre Iguodala set for season debut vs. Magic

ByKendra Andrews ESPN logo
Saturday, January 7, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO -- Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala will make his season debut on Saturday against the Orlando Magic.

The Warriors and Iguodala have been targeting a return for the second half of the season since training camp, but Saturday -- which will be the Warriors' 40th game of the season -- became a more concrete target date over the past week as Iguodala began to scrimmage with the team.

Iguodala will play under a minute restriction, but it's unclear what that will look like at the moment.

"I try not to get too caught up in that because then you start overthinking or you press based on how many minutes you're playing," Iguodala said after practice on Friday. "You've just got to do what you can do with what you've got. Look at it as a whole, instead of just one night ... June is a lot more important than January."

After signing a one-year veteran minimum deal over the summer, Iguodala has been inactive with what the team labeled as left hip injury management.

Golden State knew Iguodala's availability wouldn't be consistent this season, as it also wasn't when he returned to the team in 2021.

Last season, Iguodala played just 31 games during the regular season. Between Jan. 18 and March 31 of last year, Iguodala played in just two games. He rested on one end of every back-to-back the Warriors played. He also missed 15 games during the postseason -- 12 consecutively.

What Iguodala's workload looks like moving beyond Saturday is still up in the air.

"The hardest thing when you get older is to stack up games," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "As we saw with Andre last season, all of a sudden something swells up and you don't even know why. I am not worried about his production or play. It's more about preserving him for the long haul. I know he's going to help us win."

The Warriors believe his value to the organization stretches far beyond his on-court impact. They credit him as being a "player-coach" and has become a mentor to the team's younger players, especially Jonathan Kuminga.

"He's such a freak athlete, he's still in amazing condition, but his brain is his most powerful weapon," Kerr said of Iguodala.

Iguodala's return comes in the middle of a stretch where the Warriors' roster has been depleted.

Stephen Curry has been sidelined since Dec. 14 with a left shoulder subluxation, though the team is hopeful he'll be able to play next Friday in San Antonio.

On Friday, Curry practiced with the team for the first time since sustaining his injury, including contact and 5-of-5 work.

"Today was pretty much no limit, the first real reps I've got at that ... It felt good," Curry said. "I feel like I haven't lost too much in terms of conditioning ... the whole plan has been to be ready when I'm ready ... with this one, it's kind of about getting through as much of the testing phase of it as possible. So if I can get a few more reps and keep moving in that direction, then I'll be ready."

Andrew Wiggins has been also out since Dec. 15 with an adductor strain and following illness, but he practiced in full on Friday and is probable for Saturday.

Kuminga, JaMychal Green and James Wiseman will be out for at least one more week with varying injuries and illnesses.