The Rockets were going to be already facing competition for Andre Iguodala’s services if he were bought out by the Memphis Grizzlies. However with Memphis decided to instead trade him, the Rockets should be in the driver’s seat. See below for my take on how this will help the Rockets.
Andre Iguodala became a victim of the Golden State Warriors re-build. Once they realized Kevin Durant was gone, they didn’t want to face the reality of losing him and getting nothing in return. So their next course of action was to put together a sign-and-trade deal with the Nets and bring in D’Angelo Russell on a 4 year 117 million dollar contract. This meant they were going to be parting ways with Andre Iguodala, as they would have had to move his 17.1 million dollar salary to bring in Russell.
Iguodala was ultimately moved to the Memphis Grizzlies, sparking immediate speculation that he would be bought out by Memphis. This would have not been an ideal scenario for the Rockets, as they are capped out and could have been outbid by other interested teams. The Lakers became the favorite to land Iguodala as they have 32 million in cap space on the heels of Kawhi Leonard‘s decision. As currently constructed, the Lakers have 2 of the game’s top 5 players and they are one of the largest media markets. The Rockets can’t compete with either of those factors.
However the Memphis Grizzlies have decided to trade him instead, which in my opinion puts the Rockets in the driver’s seat. For starters, Iguodala’s salary would have to be matched, and the Lakers don’t have any contracts to send out to match without breaking up their stars, which would obviously defeat the purpose.
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According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, the Rockets and Mavericks are both interested. The Dallas Mavericks finished 14th in the West with a 33-49 record. Sure they acquired Kristaps Porzingis, who is recovering from a major knee injury, but will he be the same player after the ACL injury? And even if he is, would Iguodala really be the missing piece to lead the Mavericks over the hump? I think they would actually need much more and if I’m Iguodala, who is 35 years old and in the last year of his contract, I’m not sure I’d want to go to Dallas. You also have to remember Iguodala has played in the last 5 consecutive NBA Finals and is in win now mode. By contrast, the Dallas Mavericks, haven’t even made the playoffs in each of the last three years.
The Rockets are certainly in win now mode and would give him an opportunity to return to the NBA Finals. In fact, they’ve had their season end at the hands of Iguodala’s former Warriors in 3 of the last 4 playoffs. Iguodala has been named to the All-Defense team twice and still received All-Defense votes for this past year in his 15th season! More importantly, Iguodala is a hustle player and embraces the challenge of defending the opposing team’s best player. On the offensive end, he can still contribute, as he averaged 10 points per game in these past playoffs en route to shooting 35% from deep. He’s still incredibly durable as he played 30 minutes per game for the Warriors this past post-season.
But where Iggy really excelled in the post-season was against the Rockets, as he averaged 13.5 points per game on an incredible 60% from the field and shot 42% from distance. In addition, he played 34.5 minutes per game!
From the Rockets standpoint, the best trade to send would be Iman Shumpert, who they would have to ship away in a sign-and-trade. This would also likely be the most appealing piece for Memphis if they are trying to maximize their return, as they would get Shumpert on a long term deal, which they could always ship away to another team later.
Sure, the Rockets could offer Eric Gordon, but why would Memphis want to bring Gordon in? He’s on an expiring contract so he wouldn’t bring value to them because they aren’t in win now mode and he would surely walk away in free agency. Yes, that would give them additional cap space in next year’s free agency, but let’s be honest, when is the last time we’ve seen a top tier player sign with the Memphis Grizzlies in free agency?
The Rockets could really use Iguodala so hopefully they’ll be able to get it done! But from my perspective, Memphis just made it much easier for the Rockets.