If Iguodala is healthy, how can you NOT play him?

The Warriors got beat by the Lakers on Sunday, but there was a new player in the rotation: Andre Iguodala. He played 14 minutes, didn’t score, but as is his M.O., the team was a positive when he was on the floor.

Still, there were a lot of Warriors fans lamenting that Iguodala’s minutes came at the expense of Jonathan Kuminga. Why is Iguodala, on the last legs of his career, taking minutes from anybody, let alone Kuminga, the thinking goes? Well, this is the deal the Warriors made — with Iguodala, his teammates, and yes, in a way, the fans.

When the Warriors brought back Iguodala for one final season, there was no way he was going to be entrenched in the rotation from October through the spring. Nobody expected his body to hold up for a full season, and Iguodala delivered on that promise.

The plan was always in place, though. If Iguodala were healthy, he’d play. The issue now is, the Warriors looked like they’ve boxed themselves into a corner. Fans have been disappointed all season that Iguodala has occupied a roster space even though he was unavailable to play. Fair enough. On the other hand, if Iguodala is on the roster and healthy, how can you NOT play him?

But the deal was always that if Iguodala was healthy enough to play, he had to be part of the rotation. All season long the Warriors have seemed unconcerned with Iguodala or his health. They’ve had the big picture in mind all along. And the big picture was that Iguodala would be a player who could help down the stretch and into the playoffs.

We’re into the stretch run now and Iguodala, as of right now, is healthy. So the bottom line is he’s got to play, right? He’s a four-time champion with this team, and player after player, coach after coach, has talked about Iguodala’s importance off the court and on.

When you have an aging championship core, but you’ve done everything you can to give that group one more crack at a title, how can you not go with Iguodala? Especially when the games are so important now.

My guess is the Warriors are going to give Iguodala a shot at playing as much as he can for them down the stretch of the regular season. If the results are good, and he’s healthy, he’ll likely play in the postseason. The next few weeks will give the Warriors a look-see at what, if anything, Iguodala has left.

But rest assured, if Iguodala is healthy and playable, he’s going to be taking minutes from a teammate — whether it’s Kuminga or Anthony Lamb or anyone else. That’s the deal the Warriors made with Iguodala, and we all should have seen it coming.

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About Steinmetz

Matt Steinmetz is a veteran San Francisco Bay Area sports journalist. He covered the Golden State Warriors for the Bay Area News Group for more than a decade before becoming a television analyst with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Steinmetz can be heard on "Steiny & Guru" on 95.7-FM The Game in San Francisco, from 12-3.
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