Sunday, during the first night of NBA free agency, the Memphis Grizzlies, as expected, were quiet as far as trying to sign a new player. But that didn’t mean that they weren't active. The team acquired veteran wing Andre Iguodala in a deal with the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors were desperately trying to come off of Iguodala’s contract in an effort to make room to facilitate a sign-and-trade involving Kevin Durant and former Brooklyn Nets point guard, D’Angelo Russell. The Grizzlies were able to absorb Iguodala's contract into their own $25 million trade exception that was created as a result of the Mike Conley trade. As compensation, the Grizzlies also received a conditional future first-round draft pick from the Warriors.
The pick has very favorable protections for the Grizzlies — starting with a top four pick protection in 2024. If not conveyed, the pick becomes number-one overall protected in 2025 and is completely unprotected in 2016. Since Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green will be 36, 34, and 34 years old, respectively, in 2024, the assumption is that the Warriors will be rebuilding by the time that the trade is available. If so, the Grizzlies more than likely would be receiving a lottery pick from them.
This could be an enviable opportunity for the Grizzlies, in the event they are able to acquire a high-draft pick from a Warriors team in transition. The Grizzlies could add a young player to their own roster or they could use the pick as a trade piece between now and then. Since the Grizzlies also own a future Utah Jazz first-round draft pick, they could package the two assets along with other players to acquire a star level talent via trade. This happens often when star players decide to part ways with their team and the team lays desirable assets on the trading block to acquire or replace a missing piece.
Iguodala should definitely be able to contribute and help this rebuilding Grizzlies team — on and off the court — if that is the direction that the team decides to go. A former NBA Finals MVP, Iguodala is a proven professional and one of the best defenders and crunch-time shot makers in the league. At 35, he is past the form that once had him labeled as one of the most athletic and versatile wings in the league, but he's still a capable contributor who can help accelerate the Grizzlies' rebuilding process. Whether Iguodala is willing to be a part of a team that's rebuilding is still a question mark.
One of the best outcomes would involve the Grizzlies being able to trade Iguadola to a contender for another future asset before the coming season’s trade deadline. In the event that the Grizzlies are able to obtain not only the pick that came from the Warriors, but a second draft pick for Iguadala, it would be a definite win for their new front office.
There has also been rising speculation about the Grizzlies simply buying out the $16 million remaining on the final season of Iguadala's current contract. This would allow Iguodala to go to any team he chooses. There are reports that if the Grizzlies did agree to a buyout agreement with Iguodala, he would join Lebron James and Anthony Davis with the Lakers. This narrative has been inflated by some in the national media. If Iguodala does not, in fact, want to be a part of a rebuilding and non-contending team in Memphis, that would be understandable. My hope is that the Grizzlies don’t allow their hand to be influenced by those media narratives. Iguodala is under contract with the Grizzlies now, and, regardless of anyone else's opinion, it's ultimately their decision about what to do with him.
The Grizzlies may not want the blow-back of negative criticism that could come if Iguodala says he wants to be traded and the team holds him “against his will.” But, whether it is mutually agreed upon that Iguodala can be a benefit to the team or not, the hope here is that the Andre Iguodala era in Memphis — however long it lasts — is one that ends on a positive note for all.