Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri: Andre Iguodala Helps Improve Our Defense And Will Score More In Denver’s Offensive System

August 15, 2012 – 8:00 am by Steven Cuce

It appears that the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers had a 3-way trade all lined up and ready to go for Dwight Howard, but there was one problem. The Magic didn’t want Andre Iguodala. That’s when the Denver Nuggets came into play. Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri was very interested in Iguodala and was able to land his target.

The Nuggets wanted to improve defensively in the offseason. Denver feels Iguodala is just the man to change the defensive culture in the Mile High City.

Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri joined KKFN in Denver with Drew and Scott to discuss getting involved in the Dwight Howard trade by acquiring Andre Iguodala, delivering the news of the trade to Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington, and the Denver Nuggets improving defensively by acquiring Andre Iguodala.

Take us through how the Denever Nuggets got involved in the Dwight Howard megatrade?

“We kept poking. We always had interest in Andre Iguodala and we kept poking and I think they already had a 3-way thing going and I don’t know if Orlando had the intentions of keeping Andre Iguodala. The poking and poking got to them calling us and we calling them and figuring out the way that we could acquire him [Andre Iguodala] and we kept talking and talking and it heated up while we were at the Olympics and that was all. It got done.”

How tough was it to break the news to Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington that they were being traded?

“It’s toughest part. It’s the part I hate. As I spoke to Al Harrington and as I spoke to Arron Afflalo I put the phone down and you just feel so bad and you feel down with everything when you should kind of be excited, but those guys were great. They were so good on the phone that Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington, so we were losing two really, really good guys, who bought into what we were trying to do. It’s the nature of the business and I think in this period of trying to get better and trying to make our team better and things have to be done. They understand and we are also bringing in a good guy like around the Olympics you would ask who was it? Everybody would raise their hands about the guy [Andre Iguodala] and his character and his play and being a teammate and all that stuff and what we are trying to do here, so we’re excited to have Andre Iguodala. We did lose a couple of good guys and really good players.”

Why on paper do you feel the Nuggets are better with Andre Iguodala?

“We felt we…when I went out and studied…we as a team have studied teams that play the way we do. Phoenix did it and even in the past some other teams have done it. We do it. The one thing I think we struggle with is defense and we thought bringing in a defensive minded player would kind of affect the athletes we have. We do have good athletes and we do have good players that have potentially to be good on defense and we are always going to score. I don’t know if I am wrong, but I think we may have led the league in scoring or maybe  second last year, so we are always going to be tough with the way George Karl coaches, but defensively we have to stop somebody. We can’t be 19th in the league on defense. I think we want to make a jump, so I think that was where the upgrade was. We feel Andre Iguodala is going to be able to score a little bit more because of how we play. I think the 76ers played more of a half court game and they played in a half court setting. We go up and down and that is his game. He likes to find people. He likes to make plays. He likes to attack the rim and that’s how we play, so I think on both sides we have somebody who can play make plays for some of our other players and then just above all at least a defender that is going to help us be better on defense.”

Listen to Masai Ujiri on KKFN in Denver here [Interview begins at the start of the podcast]

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