February 3, 2020, 3:07 am
One of the central characters of the summer, Andre Iguodala has largely flown under the radar since real basketball began.
With the Warriors needing to trade the 2016 Finals MVP as a ripple effect of Kevin Durant’s decision, Memphis wisely stepped up to take on Iguodala’s salary as well as a first-round pick as the cost of doing business.
Back then, it was expected that the Grizzlies would buy out Iguodala if no other team met their asking price. Memphis quickly snuffed out that fire and made it clear that they would look to flip Iguodala, ideally for a second first-round pick. The Western Conference’s elite teams balked at that price and we’ve been in a holding pattern ever since, with Iguodala away from the Grizzlies and the teams waiting for one another to blink in negotiations.
With the trade deadline looming, we should finally get some action on a player who could play a significant role in determining who comes out of the West.
Dallas, Houston, the Lakers and Clippers are among the teams reported to be interested, and you can expect some Eastern Conference teams to inquire as well. The Grizzlies seem almost certain to get at least some kind of offer that warrants a deal, even if it’s not quite to their liking. An expiring deal and a second-round pick would still hold more appeal than just buying Iguodala out, you would think.
Now, are those original offers still on the table? Iguodala may be getting a huge benefit out of sitting out for half a season considering his need for maintenance days, but trying to incorporate a guy mid-season – who hasn’t been with an NBA team in seven months – is not without its risks from the teams’ side of things. There’s no chance he’s the same guy that he was in 2016, and there are legitimate questions as to whether he’ll be the guy he was last season after this time away.
The Lakers have no real avenues to acquire Iguodala unless he hits the buyout market. A trade would require key rotation players heading to Memphis to accommodate Iggy’s $17.2 million salary, and the Lakers have limited draft capital that can be surpassed by other bidders. The Rockets are in a similar boat.
The Clippers could step up and deal away this year’s first-rounder, as well as Moe Harkless and another lower salary. They’re a perfect candidate to go all-in on this season, though replacing Harkless’ 22.8 mpg and his 3-point shooting (.343 on 1.4 attempts per game) would not and cannot fall all on Iguodala, especially given his layoff.
The Mavs seem unlikely to pony up from whatever their original offer may have been, and they will also have to grapple with the weight of whether any assets are worth a half-season of Iguodala’s experience given that he’s unlikely to really move that team’s needle.
Adding Iguodala won’t affect the Mavs’ chances of making the playoffs to begin with, because they’re going to make it barring a complete collapse, and it sounds as though the veteran has no interest in joining a team that isn’t one of the true favorites anyway.
That in itself, while completely understandable for a 36-year-old who has grown accustomed to Finals trips, is a real shame. The Grizzlies are the type of team, aside from the supposed elite that simply can’t meet the asking price, who could really use someone of Iguodala’s caliber. He would be the perfect presence to help steer a young and exciting group into the postseason, taking some of the pressure off on the defensive end of the floor while teaching Ja Morant and company the ropes of playoff basketball.
And even if the Grizzlies hold true to their word and don’t buy Iguodala out, would he even report at that point? You would expect him to be a professional about it, but the team did say that he didn’t have to show up while they worked on a trade that would fulfill his wishes.
A change of heart from Iguodala and a run with the up-and-coming Grizzlies might be the most entertaining outcome, but we’ll have some clarity on his future by the end of the week at the latest.
Although there are questions about what 2020 Iguodala will be able to contribute, expect plenty of teams to try and find out because of the upside.
The Grizzlies are a treat to watch and have to be considered the favorites to grab the final playoff spot in the West, but their upcoming Iguodala decision may be their largest influence on the postseason chase.