The Memphis Grizzlies are in the business of collecting assets...and they proved that once again Sunday night when they - believe it or not - took advantage of a desperate Golden State Warriors team and took two valuable pieces from Stephen Curry’s crew as they did their best to not lose Kevin Durant for nothing.
Beyond players and picks, the Mike Conley trade (which still isn’t official, because the NBA’s schedule needs serious tweaking) gave the Grizzlies a massive traded player exception (TPE) of roughly $25 million to work with. This means they could take a player in to the exception, without giving up anything in return but cap relief to another team. They then pushed business like Avery Bradley’s contract option to beyond the lifting of the (again, silly) moratorium period the NBA has on July 6th to see if there would be opportunity to use the exception to get an asset.
They didn’t just get one from the Warriors...they got two.
The 1st round pick from Golden State - protected 1-4 in 2024, #1 overall in 2025, and unprotected in 2026 - has a legitimate shot at being a lottery selection (Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, and Draymond Green will all be in their mid-30’s by then). That’s very valuable, and adds to the ultimate haul that the Conley trade has brought in. But the player in the trade holds a wealth of experience and as a former NBA Finals MVP carries with him a championship pedigree that is extremely meaningful to have around young players.
Andre Iguodala is a member of the Memphis Grizzlies.
But for how long?
Almost immediately, after the shock of yet another sound and forward-thinking trade by the new Memphis front office wore off, national media (and Lakers fans) began to speculate about Andre’s next move. Surely Iguodala wouldn’t actually play for the rebuilding Grizzlies...right?
Not so fast.
While Iggy probably isn’t longed for this Grizzlies world, he certainly shouldn’t simply be waived. While you don’t gain the favor of players and their agents by playing hardball with veterans who want to compete for titles, you must do what is best for your organization. This front office has earned the benefit of the doubt on that front - when it comes to securing the future of this franchise, the ends justify the means. Zachary Kleiman and crew must explore all options before moving on from a player with the resume of Iguodala for nothing.
How could that work? Here’s the progression as it should play out.
Strike while the iron is hot
While having a player that can contribute in a variety of ways like Iguodala on the roster until February’s trade deadline holds value (more on that in a bit), the first thing Memphis should be doing is exploring the market for Andre now. Teams still have some cap space to work with - both L.A. squads (the Lakers and the Clippers) and the Dallas Mavericks could all absorb Iggy in to their cap sheet without Memphis needing to bring back salary. This will all hinge on one last large free agent domino to fall - the board man himself, Kawhi Leonard.
Let’s say, for the sake of argument Kawhi chooses the Lakers - yuck. The Clippers would have $41 million in space to play with, and almost certainly would not want to sign any remaining free agents to multi-year deals. Doc Rivers has the coaching pedigree, the Clippers have the L.A. back drop working for them, and they are also built to win now can could benefit from having a proven winner on their roster.
Sending Iguodala to L.A. for, say, the 2021 and 2023 2nd round picks of the Detroit Pistons (which the Clippers have the rights to) would be a good haul for Memphis, considering he essentially fell in to their laps. Iguodala adds wing depth to the Clippers, and the Grizzlies get more resources to build a roster with.
This is just one example - and probably a best-case scenario, at this point, at least when it comes to teams with cap space readily available. Dallas and the Lakers both are limited in draft picks available to them, and would probably not want to ship any out for Iguodala.
There are other possibilities via trade...but they make more sense to explore later down the road.
Picture this - the 2020 NBA Trade Deadline is upon us. Andre Iguodala has worked hard in his time in Memphis and has been a model citizen and role model for the young Grizzlies. Zachary Kleiman and the front office promised Iggy they’d move him to a contender, and they have the following deal on the table-
Orlando Magic receive: Andre Iguodala
Memphis Grizzlies receive: Timofey Mozgov, 2022 1st round pick (lottery protected, becomes two 2nd round picks in 2023 and 2024 if not conveyed)
A trade like this could even potentially be done right now. But Orlando may not feel the need to go get a player like Iguodala immediately and give up an asset (or two, in the case of two 2nd rounders) to get an older player like Iggy. Orlando may also assume they’d be in the same situation the Grizzlies supposedly are in - would Iguodala want out of Orlando, even though they’re currently a better team than Memphis? Once the Grizzlies commit to keeping him around, that goes out the window to an extent.
Why would Memphis hold on for so long beyond the value/desperation of suitors being better? Because Iguodala can still play - ignore the stats...the intangibles would be massive for Memphis. Iggy has experience in a switch-heavy defense and can help that development of the young Grizzlies, and he can also help facilitate offense and ease the stress on Ja Morant and other ball handlers. He’s been to the top of the NBA mountain and knows what it takes to prepare and be a pro. That experience could be of real value to Memphis, especially considering as an expiring contract he won’t be around long-term to hurt future business.
Promise him a starting spot while he is here. Sweeten the deal. Make it worth his while as best you can. He can make Memphis better, even if it’s on the court before it’s through another transaction.
Do not waive on waiving
The media in L.A. and Brooklyn/New York and Houston will continue to hype up the idea of simply letting Andre Iguodala walk.
Don’t listen to the noise.
Of course Andre most likely doesn’t want to play for the Grizzlies. They’re not going to be in the playoffs this coming season most likely, and certainly are not title contenders. Iguodala has one, maybe two or three, seasons left in his career. He does not want to “waste” his last basketball days teaching a bunch of kids. He wants to compete for titles - and Memphis isn’t the place to do that at the moment.
But he signed a contract. And his former team prioritized other things over keeping him on their roster. He’s a Memphis Grizzly now, whether he likes it or not, and the Grizzlies front office owes it to themselves to exhaust every possibility before waiving him.
Maybe the market won’t be as hot for Iggy as hoped. His numbers have gone down, and the sales pitch for a wing that isn’t a consistent contributor offensively that makes $17.5 million this coming season isn’t a long one. But even if the return is simply one second round pick from, say, the Lakers if they miss on Kawhi, that is one more pick than you had prior to Iguodala’s arrival. One more asset for a future trade, or one more swing at finding players to fit around Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant.
Even if it’s improbable that you find a key rotation player in that spot, some chance is better than no chance.
The Grizzlies are in the business of asset acquisition. Waiving players, while earning trust and respect among some circles of players and agents, doesn’t put Memphis and its future first. That must remain the focus of every endeavor the front office approaches moving forward. The end of the Iguodala “Era” in Memphis may well be a buy out...but it sure as hell shouldn’t be because of a lack of effort from the Grizzlies brass.
Make every call.
Send every text.
Do what you can to make the most of the opportunity in front of you.
Andre Iguodala won’t be a Grizzly for long...but regardless of the duration of his stay in Memphis, he can potentially make the franchise better in multiple ways.
Don’t let that walk without a fight.