Kevin PeltonESPN Senior Writer
PORTLAND — Nearly eight months after his last NBA game, the deciding Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, Andre Iguodala made his 2019-20 debut Sunday against the Portland Trail Blazers — three days after the Miami Heat acquired him in a deadline-day trade with the Memphis Grizzlies, who had agreed to not have Iguodala join the team this season, pending a deal.
“I don’t know if he’s ready or not, but I’m playing him,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said pregame. “We’ll find out. The guy’s a freak. Six percent body fat, and he’s been off that kind of time? He looks incredible. That’s not basketball shape — we get it. So how do you get somebody in basketball shape? You play him in a basketball game, and you start that process. We didn’t bring him here just to hang out.”
After checking in late in the first quarter, Iguodala played 23 minutes, including the entire fourth quarter of Miami’s 115-109 loss. He scored just two points on 1-of-2 shooting but had six rebounds and three assists. The Heat outscored the Blazers by 10 points with Iguodala on the court.
“Felt good tonight,” Iguodala said. “I wanted to get a feel for where I was at. Honestly, I haven’t even played a pickup game or anything since the Finals. I was trying to get a feel for where my wind was. Overall, I felt really good out there.”
“I wasn’t planning on this,” Spoelstra said after the game. “He played about seven more minutes than I wanted him to play. We’ll evaluate him tomorrow.”
Miami will complete a back-to-back set of games Monday by traveling to face Iguodala’s former team, the Golden State Warriors.
“I’ve played a lot of basketball games in my career, so the emotional highs and lows I don’t have anymore. Everything is just another game,” Iguodala said of the reunion. “For this team, more importantly, we want to win. This road trip is tough with a lot of guys down. We’ve got new bodies. Us getting a win is more important than how I feel. That’s my mindset going into the game.”
The Heat traded guard Dion Waiters and forwards James Johnson and Justise Winslow on Thursday as part of a three-team deal that brought back forwards Iguodala, Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill from Memphis. All three players were inactive for Miami’s loss Friday at Sacramento, as the trade was being completed with physicals, but they were able to participate in a practice Saturday in Portland.
In addition to Iguodala, Crowder made his Heat debut Sunday, playing 35 minutes and posting his sixth double-double of the season (18 points, 11 rebounds).
For his part, Iguodala was thankful to be back on the court after the long absence.
“It was exciting to be out there tonight,” he said. “It was like I was taking a sabbatical. Being away from the game makes you see how much you appreciate this game. The longer you are away, when you get out there again, you are excited with every possession, every opportunity to put your stamp on the game. That’s what I tried to do tonight.”