The Andre Iguodala pursuit begins.
According to Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian, Iguodala and the Memphis Grizzlies have come to an agreement that will preclude the veteran from having to report to the team, both in training camp and the start of the regular season. Iguodala will still be on the roster, but the Grizzlies will shift their focus to finding him a new home between now and the trade deadline on Feb. 6.
While Iguodala is coming off of a season in which he averaged a career-low 5.7 points per game, he's expected to be highly coveted by contenders because of what he brings to the table. He's still an elite defender, a solid playmaker and a capable - albeit streaky - 3-point shooter. He spent the last six seasons with the Golden State Warriors, helping the franchise win three titles with his two-way play and could help any number of contenders as a valuable postseason piece.
So which teams will be in the market for the 35-year-old?
The Clippers already have three of the league's best perimeter defenders in Patrick Beverley, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
Adding Iguodala to that core seems unfair.
Together, they would give Clippers head coach Doc Rivers the option of rolling out lineups featuring four players who can legitimately guard three positions - four in the case of Leonard, George and Iguodala. More importantly for franchise as a whole, they'd have three players who have had success against LeBron James in the past. George less so than Leonard and Iguodala, but they are better suited than just about anyone else in the NBA right now to defend the four-time MVP.
Considering the Clippers and Lakers have the best odds to win the title this season, the addition of Iguodala could give the Clippers a slight edge.
The tricky part for the Clippers would be putting together a deal that can beat what other teams can offer the Grizzlies for Iguodala because he's on the books for $17.2 million this season. They parted ways with most of their draft picks in the trade for George and with the amount of money they have invested in Leonard and George, they can't afford to gut their depth for possibly one year of Iguodala. Maurice Harkless ($11.5 million) could almost certainly be gone, leaving JaMychal Green ($4.7 million), Rodney McGruder ($4.6 million), Jerome Robinson ($3.6 million), Patrick Patterson ($2.3 million) and Landry Shamet ($2.0 million) as options to match salary.
But if they can find a way to acquire Iguodala - the clearest path being the Grizzlies buying him out, which doesn't appear to be on the cards anytime soon - there might not be a better team for him than the Clippers.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers would ideally trade for someone who is a better 3-point shooter than Iguodala, but he still fills a need as a defensive-minded wing.
In the same way that Iguodala would help the Clippers match up with the league's heavy-hitters, the combination of him and Danny Green in the backcourt with Anthony Davis protecting the rim behind them - not to mention James roaming as a free safety - would make for a dynamic defensive unit.
Iguodala would also give them another player who can slide down to power forward against most teams, which would free Davis to play centre, where his skill set is best suited. If they were to trade for him, it's easy to imagine the Lakers closing games with James, Green, Iguodala and Davis, plus one of Rajon Rondo, Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Avery Bradley depending on what else they need.
As an added bonus, Iguodala would bring some much-needed playmaking to the Lakers. His days of being a high usage player are over, but Iguodala still averaged 3.2 assists per game last season. Having someone else who can put the ball on the floor and make the right play would take some of the playmaking burden off of James, who is expected to start the season at point guard for the Lakers.
If nothing else, the Lakers trading for Iguodala would prevent the Clippers from adding him to their treasure trove of LeBron defenders. They do, however, face a similar problem as their inter-city rivals - the Lakers are lacking draft picks because of the Davis trade and they can't afford to sacrifice more of their depth. They'd likely have to trade at least three rotational players to have a chance of getting Iguodala, such as Caldwell-Pope ($8.1 million), Bradley ($4.8 million) and McGee ($4.0 million).
The Nuggets are loaded at every position except for one - small forward.
Right now, Torrey Craig is slated to be their starting small forward on opening night. Backing up him is Will Barton, who is more of a shooting guard than a small forward, followed by Michael Porter Jr., who missed all of last season with a back injury and enters this season as a question mark.
That alone makes the Nuggets an interesting team for Iguodala.
Iguodala has played for the Nuggets before. He appeared in 80 games with the franchise in 2012-13, helping them win 57 games in the regular season before losing to the Warriors in the first round of the playoffs.
Much has changed since then, but Iguodala would still fit in well, assuming he would be interested in a return. Being an excellent cutter, he would play well off of Nikola Jokic, who is arguably the best passing centre of all-time. Additionally, his versatility on defence would come in handy against the Clippers, Lakers and Houston Rockets, as he can match up with the likes of George, Leonard, James, James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
Being loaded at every position, it wouldn't be difficult for the Nuggets to put together a trade package for Iguodala that would interest the Grizzlies. Barton, who is owed $13.0 million this season, would be a starting point, with Juan Hernangomez ($3.3 million) and Malik Beasley ($2.7 million) as possible add-ons.
It just depends on how much they're willing to give up for possibly one year of Iguodala.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers are currently made up of mostly guards and centres, so a trade for Iguodala makes a lot of sense.
|PG||Damian Lillard||Afernee Simons|
|SG||CJ McCollum||Kent Bazemore|
|SF||Rodney Hood||Mario Hezonja|
|PF||Zach Collins||Anthony Tolliver|
|C||Hassan Whiteside||Pau Gasol||Skal Labissiere|
The difference between the Blazers and the other teams on this list is that they have an expiring contract that almost equals Iguodala's in Kent Bazemore, who is owed $19.3 million this season.
Bazemore alone won't get it done, but the Blazers have some interesting young players - Mario Hezonja, Skal Labissiere, Anfernee Simons and Zach Collins to name a few - and draft picks that they could include to sweeten the deal.
There would be some risk in flipping Bazemore for Iguodala, though. Not only is Bazemore younger and less injury prone, he's a better 3-point shooter. It might ultimately come down to how confident the Blazers are that they can compete this season - some of which will undoubtedly hinge on how Jusuf Nurkic looks when he returns from his injury - because Bazemore would help them more in the regular season, whereas Iguodala would help them more in the playoffs.
The Blazers might tick a lot of Iguodala's boxes as well, as they can offer him a starting role on a team with championship aspirations.
Miami Heat - The Heat have a mix of expiring contracts and young assets to make a trade worth the Grizzlies' while. They're already expected to be one of the best defensive teams in the league this season. Iguodala would only make them scarier.
Dallas Mavericks - The Mavericks have their future in place in Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. What they need now are players who can magnify their strengths and cover up their weaknesses. Iguodala can do just that, even if he's in his mid-30s.
Houston Rockets - The Rockets appeared to have a plan in place to go after Iguodala when they signed Nene Hilario to a two-year, $20 million contract this offseason. But with the NBA not approving the deal, a trade now seems almost impossible.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.