The news that the Memphis Grizzlies are refusing to pursue buyout talks for former Warriors guard Andre Iguodala, first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic, has not exactly riled up the contending teams for which Iguodala would like to play. Most expect to “wait out” the Grizzlies, according to NBA sources.
The Grizzlies would like to get a first-round pick for Iguodala, as unlikely as that may be. But teams seeking to sign him are expecting that a second-rounder will be enough to get Iguodala, though even that price might be too high.
The hope among contenders is that the Grizzlies will eventually be forced to buy him out, allowing his next team not to bear the burden of the final year of his contract.
“What the Grizzlies are doing, it is to be expected,” one league executive told Heavy.com. “They’re looking at him as an asset and they want to get something in return for him. He’s under contract, so they hold all the cards. The worst he can do is not show up and it is not like Memphis is going to be playing for a playoff spot. Him not showing up wouldn’t help anything. But if you’re on the outside, those teams, they’re just waiting it out.”
In the ideal scenario for Memphis, league sources said, Iguodala would come to camp for the Grizzlies, help to tutor the team’s young players—especially No. 2 pick Ja Morant and last year’s No. 4 pick, Jaren Jackson Jr.—and be sloughed off in a trade this winter.
That would allow Memphis to gain from Iguodala’s experience and, perhaps, get back some form of compensation from a contender. A first-round draft pick is at the top of the wish list, but a second-rounder or two would be a more likely haul.
Lack of Assets, Tax Issues Limit Iguodala Trade Scenarios
Problem is, teams that have some inkling of acquiring Iguodala are, generally, lacking in the assets to do so. There’s also the matter of Iguodala’s $17 million contract. No contender wants to take that on, not with luxury-tax problems looming and not while there’s the chance of getting him for a fraction of that as a free agent.
Around the league, the Los Angeles Clippers are seen as the favorite to land Iguodala, who has a big fan in Clippers coach Doc Rivers. But that only works if the Grizzlies buy him out.
L.A. can’t trade any first-round picks to Memphis, having given three future first-rounders to the Oklahoma City Thunder in this summer’s deal for Paul George, and would be reticent to give up a young player for a guy who is likely to be around for only a year.
The Clippers would also have to take on Iguodala’s $17 million salary in a trade, which would send the team well into the luxury-tax territory. The real cost of trading for Iguodala for this season, then, would be more than $30 million.
The Clippers are not alone in having tax and asset issues when it comes to trading for Iguodala.
The Lakers do, too. They’d like to bring Iguodala, who was once represented by Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, to the purple-and-gold but certainly can’t give a first-round pick to do so. The Lakers traded their 2019 pick to New Orleans in the Anthony Davis deal and owe three of their next five first-round picks to the Pelicans, making them unable to include a first-rounder this year or in future years.
The Los Angeles Lakers can’t even offer much by way of second-round picks. The team does not have its second-rounders for the 2020 or 2021 drafts and could lose its 2022 second-rounder, too. And Iguodala would push the Lakers over the tax threshold.
The situation is similar in Houston. The Rockets do have picks to offer Memphis, but the team is already over the luxury tax. That means acquiring Iguodala would cost the Rockets more than $40 million with the tax.
The Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets also have interest in Iguodala, but neither can trade its 2020 or 2021 first-round picks. Dallas would go over the luxury-tax line by trading for Iguodala and Denver is already over the line.
Will the Grizzlies ‘Blink On This One?’
Iguodala will be 36 in January and has little interest in serving as a big brother to the Grizzlies’ youngsters or as a player-helper for rookie coach Taylor Jenkins, hired this offseason after six seasons as an assistant to Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta and Milwaukee.
Iguodala has expressed his desire to play for a contender this season, which may be his last. He has been a key member of the Warriors dynasty for the past six seasons, playing in five NBA Finals and winning the MVP award in the 2015 championship series. It’s that experience level the Grizzlies want to bring to their roster.
“It is going to be a matter of whether the Grizzlies blink on this one or not,” the NBA exec said. “You have a guy who does not want to be there but has some value. He does not have a ton of value, though. He’s 35, 36 years old. So what do you do, hold him hostage? If you want him to be a guy to help your young players but he does not want to do that, does that really help your young players? Most teams figure they can wait (the Grizzlies) out on this.”
With training camp just weeks away, there may not be much waiting before the Grizzlies and Iguodala figure out a path together.