No one has had a stranger 2019-20 NBA season than Andre Iguodala. He’s still in the league, currently making over $17 million, but he has not played a minute of basketball this year, and he’s not likely to for at least a few more weeks. You might not have noticed this since he hasn’t been on the court at all, but Iguodala is technically a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. He was traded there in the aftermath of Kevin Durant’s decision to join the Brooklyn Nets. The star forward’s departure left the Golden State Warriors in a real bind. Salary cap issues meant they had a limited number of options to replace the lost output of both Durant and the injured Klay Thompson.
The best chance they had to upgrade their roster was to orchestrate a complicated multi-team sign-and-trade for then-Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell. To pull off that trade, the Warriors had to let go of Iguodala without getting much in return from Memphis.
Andre Iguodala’s unique brand of stardom
The swiftness of the transaction surprised many fans due to Iguodala’s contributions to the Golden State Warriors during their period of dominance. He was already certified as an excellent player before joining the Warriors.
After being drafted ninth overall by the 76ers in the 2004 NBA Draft, Iguodala became the best player of the post-Iverson era in Philadelphia. He immediately made the All-NBA Rookie team and eventually became an All-Star in his final year with the team. The Denver Nuggets made the playoffs with a franchise-record 57 wins during his one season in Colorado. He was never known as a great scorer — he only averaged 20 points a game once — but he impacted games in other ways, such as his playmaking and reliably great defense.
Iguodala excelled with the Warriors, mostly as an overqualified sixth man. His ability to defend multiple positions, in combination with the changing style of the modern NBA, made it possible for Golden State to employ the famous Death Lineup that dominated the league for a couple of seasons.
Ironically enough, Andre Iguodala’s finest hour in the Bay Area came when he was briefly moved back into the starting lineup. Golden State was down 2-1 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2014 Finals when coach Steve Kerr replaced the lumbering Andrew Bogut with Iguodala. The Warriors subsequently won the next three games and the title. Iguodala became the first player to win Finals MVP without starting every game in the Finals, thanks in part to his stout defense on LeBron James.
A quality player stuck in stasis
Despite his pedigree and veteran savvy, Memphis has never had any interest in actually playing Iguodala. Each party is working on a different timeline. The Grizzlies are rebuilding methodically around their two young stars, Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. Andre Iguodala is 35 years old and is used to playing for championships. Their goals won’t overlap anytime soon.
So Memphis and Iguodala came to a peculiar agreement: Iggy can stay away from the team and do his own thing until he is traded or his contract gets bought out. Several teams could use Iguodala’s services, but his salary makes a trade more complicated, and interested teams are likely hoping that Memphis will just buy him out if they wait long enough. But neither side has blinked yet, so Iguodala remains a basketball player in concept more than reality, at least for now.
It’s gotten to the point where other people around the NBA are making jokes about the veteran wing’s predicament.
Andre Iguodala gets Frye-d by his friend online
A couple of weeks ago, retired big man Channing Frye took some time out of his day to answer questions from fans on Twitter. No social media Q & A is complete without a little bit of trolling, and it didn’t take long for someone to bring up the time he got dunked on by Washington’s Nate Robinson while playing at Arizona.
Frye defended himself by reminding the world that he had some of his best college performances against the same opponent, but that wasn’t enough to keep his fellow Wildcat from joining in on the fun:
To which Frye replied in the only way you can when your friend tries to roast you online: By firing back at them by using a meme from the mid-90s cult classic movie Friday.
After that, all Iguodala could do is bring up more quotes from Friday that applied to his life. He really is stuck in one of the most farcical situations that you could imagine for a professional athlete. Billions of people have fantasies about playing their favorite sport for a living. It takes years of hard work, a deep well of self-belief, and a touch of luck to make it to the big time.
Andre Iguodala has done all of that work and put together a career that may earn him a spot in the Hall of Fame. And now he finds himself sitting at home, biding his time until an organization that wants to win now tells him that he can play basketball again. All you can do is laugh.