One of the major obstacles standing in the way of the Lakers acquiring forward Andre Iguodala from the Grizzlies has been their inability to piece together the contracts to match salaries for Iguodala, who is slated to make $17 million.
Because salaries must match within 125 percent plus $100,000, the Lakers would need to send contracts worth around $13 million to Memphis to make a deal work. That’s nearly impossible to do without sending the Grizzlies something they’ve been clear they don’t want—significant salary beyond this season.
But according to former Memphis front-office executive John Hollinger (now a writer for The Athletic) the Lakers could take a long, circuitous path to the right contracts to swap for Iguodala by engaging a third team and constructing what’s called a “stepladder” trade. And Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, whose contract is expiring at $13 million this year, of the Hornets could be the perfect player to get the Lakers there.
How to Structure a Lakers-Iguodala ‘Stepladder’
The get the deal done, the Lakers would first have to ship DeMarcus Cousins, Quin Cook and Troy Daniels to Charlotte for Kidd-Gilchrist. The Lakers could also take on Willy Hernangomez. By slotting Cousins, Cook and Daniels in the correct contract exceptions, the deal would generate a trade exception worth $9.5 million for Charlotte.
The Lakers, as Hollinger sees it, would add cash—$1 million or more—to sweeten the intake for the Hornets.
If the Lakers could get such a deal done with Charlotte, though, they’d be left with a very tradeable $13 million contract, one big enough to match up with Iguodala’s outgoing deal without attaching any future salary to Memphis’ books.
The Lakers could then trade Kidd-Gilchrist for Iguodala and get the added bench piece the team has been so desperately coveting. The Grizzlies would likely simply buy out Kidd-Gilchrist—or, perhaps, give him a shot at pitching in for the team’s unlikely postseason chase.
Kidd-Gilchrist is, after all, only 26 and was the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. In his best year (2014-15), he averaged 10.9 points and 7.6 rebounds, though he struggled with a foot injury. He missed almost all of the following season with a shoulder injury.
Lakers Still Have Only Second-Round Draft Picks
Iguodala was traded to Memphis in July as part of a sign-and-trade that send D’Angelo Russell to Golden State. It was assumed the Grizzlies would buy him out, but the team has held onto him in opes of generating trade interest. Iguodala has not played all year.
What the Grizzlies really want for Iguodala, though, is some draft capital. That’s where things could hit a snag for the Lakers who have no first-round picks to give, having traded picks to New Orleans in the Anthony Davis trade.
The Grizzlies have been indicating that they’ll be able to snag a first-rounder for Iguodala ahead of the deadline, but that could prove to be a smokescreen. Either way, the Grizz don’t want to buy out Iguodala.
In the end, if the Lakers offer Kidd-Gilchrist and some combination of their 2023, 24 or 25 second-rounders, the Grizzlies may relent and give up Iguodala, if none of the better offers that have been rumored materialize.
It’s a longshot and there’s little reason to think that Hornets honcho Mitch Kupchak wants to aid the Lakers, who fired him in 2017. But it’s at least a pathway to Iguodala for the Lakers.