Tue, Dec 10, 2019

Andre Iguodala’s quest to join a contender has seen little progress since being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies during the offseason. The former Finals MVP has not played this season or even reported to Memphis as he awaits a resolution to the purgatory that he finds himself in. Iguodala, 35, has only so many years left in the NBA and would like to spend them on a contender of his choice. The Grizzlies, knowing how many teams covet him, prefer to seek out a trade and get value in return. 

The hope among many contending teams has been that Memphis would eventually relent after realizing that few playoff teams have the means to trade for him. If Iguodala were bought out, he could join the team of his choosing. But according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Grizzlies have told teams interested in Iguodala that they will not be buying him out and that the only way to get him will be through trade (as transcribed by Christian Rivas of Silver Screen and Roll). 

“He’s still a member of the Memphis Grizzlies, and the message that Memphis has been delivering to the entire league, to teams who would love to get him, especially for the postseason. The Clippers, the Lakers, the Houston Rockets, you’re going to have to trade for him. We are not buying him out. He is not going to be on the free agent market. And I think the date of Dec. 15 will be an important day for Andre Iguodala. That is when the summer’s free agents, almost 40% of the players in the league are eligible to be traded. Now you can get more creative with deals. At 35 years old he is fine sitting right now, taking a look at what the marketplace is going to look like, preserving his body, but Iguodala is a player, who Memphis is telling people ‘you’re not going to get him in a contract buyout.'”

Constructing a trade for Iguodala would be immensely difficult. An acquiring team would need to send out at least $12,185,185 in salary to fit him under the salary cap, and few teams are in a position to do so. The Los Angeles Lakers, viewed by many as Iguodala’s preferred destination, are restricted by the player options on many of the contracts they handed out this offseason. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee cannot be traded without their permission, as doing so would eliminate their Early Bird Rights in free agency. 

The Houston Rockets tried to construct an innovative contract for Nene that would have allowed them to artificially inflate his cap number through a series of bonuses so that he could serve as salary filler in a deal, but the NBA and the union jointly ruled that only his base salary could be counted for trade purposes. The Clippers could theoretically put the salary together, but like the Lakers and Rockets, they have very few draft assets available to entice Memphis. 

That Dec. 15 date is important, as it theoretically opens the door for many teams to get into the mix, but it’s unclear how willing Iguodala would be to play for other teams. If he insists on a specific destination, the Grizzlies might not be able to get the trade package that they are looking for. The two sides remain locked in this game of chicken with no end in sight. 

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