Going into training camp this fall, the Los Angeles Lakers will have one spot available on their opening night roster and barring a string of remarkable performances by one of the undrafted free agents they signed earlier this month, they’re expected to keep that spot open with one target in mind: three-time NBA champion and 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala.
The 35-year-old forward is currently under contract with the Memphis Grizzlies after being traded by the Golden State Warriors in a salary dump, but there’s a chance he’s bought out before or early into the regular season if the Grizzlies can’t find a taker for his $17.2 million salary. If Iguodala becomes available, the Lakers will have serious interest, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“[The Lakers] feel good about the way they were able to build post-Kawhi: getting Danny Green, getting a guy like DeMarcus Cousins, bringing back some continuity from last year but leaving a spot open to potentially get Andre Iguodala if he’s bought out of his $17.2 million deal … they feel like he can be an ‘X-Factor’ type of guy to add with the group they already have.”
Statistically speaking, Iguodala is coming off of the worst season of his career, averaging just 5.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 23.2 minutes per game. However, as we’ve seen in the past, Iguodala doesn’t need to put up big numbers to be an impact player on a star-laden team, particularly when the games really matter in the postseason.
Through 21 games with the Warriors in this year’s playoffs, Iguodala posted a +1.0 VOROP (Value Over Replacement Player) score, the third-highest on the team behind Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. During the regular season, he ranked fourth. (+1.6).
Iguodala is also a gifted playmaker at the wing position, which would make him a tremendous fit with the second unit alongside pure scorers like Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. If he wants to play for a team where he can play a similar role to the one he played in Oakland, the Lakers can offer him that.
While Iguodala might get some heat from James, who viciously blocked his shot in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, early on, that shouldn’t stop him from considering the Lakers as a destination. Hopefully that opportunity presents itself somewhere down the line.