With the trade deadline just a few days away, rumors and scenarios are flying left and right. The biggest drama is going on in Memphis with Andre Igoudala. An already complicated situation just got even more dramatic with Memphis' young stars Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks speaking out on the issue.
The Warriors traded Igoudala to make room for the D'Angelo Russell trade. They attached a draft pick to shed salary, and Memphis was a willing partner. From the beginning, it was apparent the 36-year-old Igoudala and the young, rebuilding Grizzlies are not a perfect fit. This was an asset play for the Grizzlies, and they let everyone know they plan to trade Igoudala to acquire extra picks. At that point, the Grizzlies reached an agreement with Andre that he wouldn't join the team, and they would work toward trading him. This back and forth has obviously frustrated the young players, and they expressed their frustration last night.
“I can't wait till we can find a way to trade him so we can play him. Show him what Memphis is all about.”
Dillon Brooks, via Geoff Calkins
The Grizzlies were supposed to be at the bottom of the standings and caught everyone by surprise with their play and ranking. They currently sit at 8th place in the West, and while a lot of teams are in contention for the final playoff spot, Memphis wasn't supposed to be there. They are playing great basketball, so the narrative of Igoudala not "wasting" his body and risking injury doesn't hold up as well anymore. Ja Morant shares his teammates' sentiment.
The bigger problem is Igoudala's activity during this process. It's no secret he would like to go to a contender, with both LA teams being at the top of his wishlist. The problem is, the Clippers and Lakers don't have assets and/or matching salary that makes a trade likely. Both Clippers and Lakers are hoping they can sign him after the Grizzlies buy him out - something the Grizzlies said they would not do. They will not pay Igoudala to play for another team, which buying a player out fundamentally means. Today, Igoudala raised the stakes.
There are politics at play here. Igoudala has a very high standing in the league and is the VP of the NBAPA. A conflict with him would damage their reputation amongst players and agents. On the other hand, they have Igoudala under contract and every right to ask the player they are paying $17.1 million to show up for work. There was a mutual interest not to make him do it, but if they don't trade him and follow through on the "no buyout" position, the Grizzlies can make Igoudala show up.
A player who withholds playing services called for by a Player Contract for more than thirty (30) days after the start of the last Season covered by his Player Contract shall be deemed not to have “complet[ed] his Player Contract by rendering the playing services called for thereunder.”
Accordingly, such a player shall not be a Veteran Free Agent and shall not be entitled to negotiate or sign a Player Contract with any other professional basketball team unless and until the Team for which the player last played expressly agrees otherwise.
NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement
The Grizzlies not only have the power not to pay Igoudala, but they can prevent him from signing with any other team as a free agent this summer. This is a nuclear option I can't see the Grizzlies using, but it shows that the letter of the law is on their side. Meaning that if the Grizzlies do trade him to a non-LA team - Dallas has been rumored, for example - they would have the same clause at their disposal.
Igoudala could've prevented this by getting a no-trade clause when he signed his last contract with the Warriors. If a player wants a no-trade, then he has to accept less money. At that time, Igoudala opted for more money, but no control of where he plays. He is now trying to have his cake and eat it too.
If Memphis caves after the deadline, then no-one will believe them the next time they say a player will either get traded or play for the team. There are many exciting outcomes, but one thing is for sure. Can't see Igoudala getting a warm welcome in the locker room if the Grizzlies don't trade him and ask him to come and play.