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NBA notebook: Iguodala, Nuggets want long-term relationship

associated press

Published: Thursday, Aug. 16 2012 11:39 p.m. MDT

DENVER — 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.

The Nuggets traded key contributors Al Harrington and Arron Afflalo to Orlando as part of the deal that involved four teams, 12 players and five draft picks.

Iguodala said he sought out Carmelo Anthony while in London to ask him about Denver and coach George Karl.

"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.

CURRY WILL BE READY FOR WARRIORS:Stephen Curry said Thursday he plans to be at full strength by the time the Golden State Warriors open the regular season in late October.

Curry missed 41 of the team's 67 games last season because of a sprained right ankle.

He's working out at the Warriors' practice facility as part of his rehab from the injury, which has bothered him the past two years. He thinks this offseason will be different because of the design of his training schedule that began about June 1.

The Warriors were 12-14 in games Curry appeared and 11-30 without him.

AFFLALO READY TO HELP MAGIC:Arron Afflalo says he's excited about what he calls a "great opportunity" to be part of the rebuilding project in Orlando following the Dwight Howard trade.

The UCLA product said Thursday that though he was surprised to be included in the multi-team, multi-player deal that saw Howard dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers, he feels there is a chance "build something special" with the Magic.

Afflalo, who posted a career-best scoring average last season, says his first five seasons in the NBA have been a learning process and that his increased roles in Denver the past two years have helped prepare him for this latest move.

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