With 14 wins and just two losses, the Los Angeles Lakers are the best team in the NBA through the first month of the season. However, as good as they’ve looked this season, there are still a few holes in their rotation they need to fill in order to reach their full potential, specifically at the 3 spot.
Their depth at small forward was exposed against the LA Clippers on opening night, when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was tasked with guarding Kawhi Leonard. Now, with Paul George in the mix for the Clippers, that need is only stronger for the Lakers.
The Lakers are hoping veteran forward Andre Iguodala can be the solution to their problem, but the Memphis Grizzlies would have to buy Andre Iguodala out of his contract first. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, that isn’t happening:
“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.’”
That’s been the same message the Grizzlies have been sending since Iguodala’s arrival and it makes sense.
The Grizzlies know that teams like the Lakers, Clippers, Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets will be in the market for an “Andre Iguodala type player” close to the NBA trade deadline, and it’s highly likely one of them will cave and give the Grizzlies close to the return they’re looking for. Because of how difficult salary-matching would be, the Lakers probably won’t be that team.
Not all hope is lost for the Lakers, though. While Iguodala might not hit the buyout market, others like Evan Turner, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and C.J. Miles could. Additionally, Rob Pelinka could try and swing a trade for a wing play using the contracts of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Quinn Cook and/or DeMarcus Cousins.
That’s obviously not the reality Lakers fans want, but it’s starting to look like the one they’ll have to come to terms with.
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