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Dillon Brooks and Ja Morant made Andre Iguodala a villain in Memphis.
The Grizzlies traded for Iguodala last summer – not because they wanted Iguodala, but because they got a first-round pick from the Warriors and could flip Iguodala for even more assets. Memphis and Iguodala agreed for him not to join the team.
Brooks and Morant, who’ve helped make the Grizzlies surprisingly competitive, resented Iguodala not being a part of what was happening in Memphis. After all, he was under contract with the Grizzlies and not showing up.
But Iguodala, since traded to the Heat, says the situation was more complex.
Iguodala, in a Q&A with Sam Amick of The Athletic:
“It was brought to me, you understand what I’m saying? It was brought to me. The (Warriors) trade happens, and it’s brought to me, (and he’s told), “Hey, we know you’re coming from this situation and, you know, it may not be ideal for you…”
Whose voice is this?
Not mine. It was never — like I never approached anyone to say, “Hey, this is not somewhere that I want to be, and I’m not going to show up.” That never occurred. But that’s never going to get put out there because, you know…”
Amick pressed Iguodala on who gave him that message, and Iguodala never clearly answered. But it’s difficult to see any interpretation other than the Grizzlies.
I believe the decision for Iguodala to stay away from Memphis was mutual. It’s easy to see Iguodala, coming from the championship-contending Warriors, not eager to enter the ground floor of a rebuild. It’s also easy to see the Grizzlies wanting him to remain healthy for a trade.
But I also believe the Grizzlies would have wanted him around if they believed he would have been engaged. Iguodala is a highly intelligent veteran with a lot to teach young players. Memphis clearly wasn’t too worried about tanking/injury undercutting trade value. Jae Crowder played all season before getting sent with Iguodala to Miami.
So, why didn’t the Grizzlies believe it was worth forcing Iguodala to report?
Maybe they got word from his camp that he was resistant, more resistant than he let on here. Maybe they spooked themselves, offering him a chance to stay home before even asking his attitude.
At that point, it barely matters who came to whom with the idea. Both sides were clearly on board.
It got messier as the trade deadline approached, though. The report that Iguodala would sit out the rest of the season if not traded to a desired team didn’t come from nowhere. I’m far more curious how Iguodala used his influence last week than how he agreed in the first place not to join Memphis.