As of right now, the Memphis Grizzlies have maintained that they are focused on trading Andre Iguodala, but should they not find a decent offer and opt instead to buy him out, Iguodala would immediately become the most sought-after free agent on the market.
Given their spending elsewhere on the roster, the Los Angeles Lakers won’t have extra money beyond the veteran’s minimum to convince Iguodala to come, but they might have one advantage over other teams: Iguodala’s former agent and current Lakers general manager, Rob Pelinka.
Suffice it to say Iguodala is a fan (via “The Full 48” podcast):
“So with Rob, it’s like Rob is very crafty, and Rob does his homework. Rob is very calculated. Now, using those words, you’d be like ‘ah, he’s gonna backstab you, right?’ But in order to be successful, you have to be all those things.
“Rob is calculated, he’s crafty, he knows his opponents, he knows his strengths, he knows his weaknesses and he knows that about all his guys. So if you look at a lot of the contracts he did with all his players, he maximized them. Like he got all he could out of all his guys in terms of deals... And even if he had to pit two teams against each other, that’s just what he had to do. Now, what type of agent would you want?
Here’s where I point out how different the jobs of being an agent and an NBA executive are. but that point should be abundantly clear at this point of Pelinka’s tenure. Negotiating for the likes of Iguodala, Kobe Bryant or James Harden is quite different from hiring coaches, negotiating trades and signing free agents — all tasks that have hit hiccups under Pelinka.
Iguodala acknowledges just that as Pelinka learns while on the job:
“So I can see how when he’s going into a different role, the GM role, and some of those things you have to tweak a little bit... Rob is my man. Rob is my man. He’s always been good to me. My wife loves him. I always tell her like ‘yo, you think Rob is the greatest human on earth’ ... I’m cool with Rob to this day.”
Based on what we’ve seen from Pelinka and what his former clients have said, it seems the experiences of having Pelinka work for you are vastly superior to those when you have to work for him. He seems better in those roles, too.
This isn’t to say Pelinka can’t improve in this role, only that he seems to have quite a bit still to learn.
Iguodala thinking this highly of Pelinka might bode well for the Lakers so long as the other offers out there aren’t that much more fruitful financially should he hit the free agent market. He’s already making about $17 million this year, but his time in the NBA is also winding down, and thus he couldn’t be blamed for wanting to get as much as he can before retirement.
But if Iguodala is willing to take less and play for this Lakers team, he would be a perfect fit and fill a very important need. As of right now, the only wing defender I have much confidence in is Danny Green. Maybe Kyle Kuzma improves in that regard, but he doesn’t fit that description right now. LeBron James was once one of the league’s best defenders, but he is no longer that — especially in the regular season. Iguodala is still one of the absolute best in this regard and would once again be filling a vital role on a championship contender — something he seems inclined to finish his career doing.
How all this turns out remains to be seen. First thing’s first, though, he’ll have to be bought out. But if he is, and he makes his way to the Lakers, that would finalize a very good offseason for Iguodala’s agent turned executive.