In a wonderful behind the scenes look at what Andre Iguodala’s free agency process was like this summer, Chris Haynes of ESPN reports that the Lakers offered the Warriors wing big money to leave Golden State for Los Angeles. Here’s Haynes with the details:
Set up in the presidential suite at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, Iguodala kicked off his free-agent meetings with a conference call with the Los Angeles Lakers, multiple sources said…
…Los Angeles had significant cap space and a desperate need for veteran leadership to help guide its young core, including Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. The call lasted about 20 minutes, sources said, but the Lakers were optimistic and offered a one-year deal in the $20 million-plus range.
First, one might question “who cares?” regarding this report as it relates specifically to the Lakers. Teams try to sign FA’s every summer, and besides some high profile failures in this area under the final years of the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak partnership and the optics of missing out again this summer, this report falls in line with that. We only have access to this specific information because of Haynes’ great reporting, so what does that matter now?
While I can see this line of thinking, this interests me more on the levels of who the Lakers have targeted, why they target them, the means they use to try to get them to sign, and how all those things tie together into their larger free agent strategy. This is especially true now, in the wake of the Andrew Bogut signing.
First, one thing that stands out to me is that the Lakers are looking to leverage their front office and coaching personnel to their benefit in free agency. This seems like an obvious strategy, but the Iguodala pursuit is another data point for this strategy. Iguodala has ties to Luke Walton from the Warriors and is one of Rob Pelinka’s former clients. Using those former touch points to inform future ones is smart business and shows how the team is trying to see the entire board and use every resource to their advantage.
Think of the Paul George discussions (which led to tampering charges being levied and confirmed, mind you) based on agent relationships between the team and current/former players Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell. Now, also tie that back to the team signing Kentavious Caldwell Pope who happens to share an agent with LeBron James. These are things already discussed in the past, so I won’t get into them too much now. But we are getting evidence that the team is using every connection at their disposal to position themselves to have these conversations.
Second, Iguodala (like Bogut) is a player with a defensive mindset and a natural leader. The fact the team is prioritizing these qualities speaks to an understanding of their weaknesses and where the holes on their roster exist. A player like Iguodala would have instantly commanded respect in the locker room, but also would serve as an on-court example of how to play the right way defensively (not to mention his skill set offensively is what the Lakers could also use more of as a ball handler and natural ball mover).
Of course, the biggest part of this story is that the team offered him such a huge 1-year contract. The money they ended up giving KCP is basically the money they wanted to give Iguodala, so the amount doesn’t really pop that much to me. And while this is a simple concept, to me this type of offer does reflect a certain amount of savvy-ness and understanding of market, timing, and how to try to sway a player to get on board. Pelinka being a former agent is directly related to this, of course. The fact that it wasn’t successful is less a deal to me as them understanding the best approach to try to close once in the room.
Overall, then, even though the Lakers weren’t able to get Iguodala to leave the Warriors for a massive 1-year deal in L.A., I’m actually happy here. It seems to me that they understand the proper process to use to not only get in the door, but to use once in the room. Process does not always equal results, but give me the right process, consistently over time every time instead of trying to change up and work only for the result. Because good process is going to net results eventually.
We’ll see how it goes in the summer of 18, but based on how they handled the summer of 2017, I am leaning more towards optimism than I was under the previous regime.