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NBA Daily: What’s Next for Andre Iguodala?

Basketball Insiders’ Drew Maresca explores how Andre Iguodala might adjust to playing in Memphis and if he will be traded again prior to the trade deadline in 2020.

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Last month, Andre Iguodala was traded from Golden State to Memphis in order to free up the requisite space needed to add D’Angelo Russell. Iguodala would be a great addition to any team, that goes without saying. However, his impact is probably even more powerful for contenders hoping to add versatility, a strong defensive presence and high basketball IQ. The competition for the 35-year old’s services will be even more intense as snagging the veteran also prevents him from joining another contender.

Indisputably, Iguodala has been great throughout his career. But ignoring his overall body of work, he averaged only 5.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 23.2 minutes per game last season – considerably lower than that of the average player in 2018-19.

While his numbers dipped last season, Iguodala still posted a 13.1 PER (PER is calibrated so that a 15 is equal to the output of an average NBA player), with a 1.6 VORP (above average), 1.9 Box Plus/Minus (above average) and a 4.2 win-share. He also posted a .579 effective field goal percentage (team average was .524 during 2018-19). Further, he sealed Game 2 of the NBA Finals by canning a three-pointer with less than 10 seconds remaining. It is safe to assume that Iguodala could provide more statistical support if his team were in need of it — but playing alongside Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green left limited opportunities to shine. While it would surprise many if he were named a starter for the Grizzlies given the franchise’s new desire to develop youth, Iguodala can definitely do more for a team than he’s been tasked with recently — whether be it in Memphis or elsewhere.

Unfortunately for the NBA’s elite teams, it appears as if the Grizzlies will hang onto Iguodala, at least for the time being. For now, he’ll serve as a great mentor for Memphis’ growing players like Ja Morant, Brandon Clarke, Grayson Allen and Jaren Jackson Jr. The former NBA Finals MVP’s professionalism and deliberate approach should rub off on all of them as long he’s in town.

But don’t think for a second that Iguodala will spend the entire year on the Grizzlies’ roster. His timeline doesn’t sync up with the roster and his contract expires after the 2019-20 season. Simply put, he’s too valuable as an asset to let walk for nothing. So the Grizzlies must ask themselves how much additional impact would be had by hanging onto Iguodala following the trade deadline?

Holding onto him for training camp and nearly five months of the season should benefit a team situation like Memphis’ a decent amount. Sure, keeping Iguodala for the remainder of the season would allow for the continued formation of habits — but wouldn’t a half-season of Iguodala’s presence and an extra draft pick be even better?

Of course, that is probably Memphis’ desired course of action. Given how much parity there should be at the top of the league, the Grizzlies stand to benefit from utilizing Iguodala until as near the trade deadline as possible. After all, it is then that teams begin executing on moves for a deep postseason run.

Examining trades from last season, the Minnesota Timberwolves only netted Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round pick in a deal for Jimmy Butler. Comparatively, the Clippers leveraged the Philadelphia’s chase for a better postseason roster at the deadline to extract Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, the 76ers’ protected 2020 first-round pick, Miami’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick and two future second-round picks in exchange for Tobias Harris, Boban Marjonivic and Mike Scott.

At the time of their respective trades, both Butler and Harris were on expiring deals or had 2019 player options — but considering their similar talents, those two trades speak to the willingness to part with additional (and sometimes unprotected) assets at the deadline compared to months earlier.

For the Grizzlies’ part, they are being coy about keeping Iguodala. “Everyone assumes we’re in the business of re-trading the veterans,” one unnamed Grizzlies executive recently said to RealGM. “Maybe it comes to that later, but right now, we want to win and compete.”

Assuming Iguodala becomes available, the list of teams that would be interested should essentially be all or most playoff teams. The Houston Chronicle reported the Rockets were interested in Iguodala prior to trading for Russell Westbrook and that general manager Daryl Morey was in talks for days about adding him even very recently.

The Lakers also have strong interest in Iguodala. According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, the Lakers are reportedly targeting the 2015 NBA Finals MVP for their final roster spot.

Additionally, it’s safe to assume that the Clippers 76ers, HEAT, Bucks, Nets, Jazz and Nuggets, at the very least, should all be interested, too.

Long story short, the market for Iguodala’s services in 2019-20 will remain for as long as he stays healthy. The Grizzlies are already ahead of the game after receiving a future first-round pick and $2 million in exchange for acquiring him. Memphis stands to benefit even more from the cultural benefits of having Iguodala on the roster. If they can add additional assets for him later in the season, that would be the proverbial icing on the cake.

Assuming he’s traded at some point, will Iguodala give preferential treatment to whoever trades for him? Will he insist on signing a multi-year deal in the summer of 2020? Might he consider re-signing in Memphis after this season? It wouldn’t be the first time a veteran developed a soft spot for a city or organization after spending a season there — although Bird rights probably play a role in many of those situations.

Thus far, Iguodala has remained quiet as far as his feelings on the trade. But he will likely have a say in where he ends up as giving up future assets for a half-season rental is more desirable if the player has an interest in the organization that traded for him.

While Iguodala will probably be moved, there is one potential disruptor — although it’s seen as a long shot. If the Grizzlies are in contention for a playoff spot, both parties may want to see how the season plays out. However, Westgate, PointsBet and DraftKings all have the Grizzlies with the worst or second-worst odds of making the playoffs.

But regardless of what happens in Memphis, the assumption around the league is that Iguodala still has plenty left to give.

Basketball Insiders contributor residing in the Bronx, New York.

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