Storyline: Mike Conley Trade?

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Jazz expected to make another push for Mike Conley

At no. 2, the franchise will have its choice of some talented prospects, namely Murray State point guard Ja Morant, a playmaking savant with rocket-boosters for shoes, or Duke forward R.J. Barrett, a tough shotmaker with the potential to emerge as a versatile defender. Morant, especially, seems like an intriguing fit: He would make for a tremendous long-term pick-and-roll partner with Jackson and could learn the tricks of the trade behind veteran point guard Mike Conley Jr. (That is, unless Memphis trades Conley—multiple league sources said this week that the Jazz are expected to make another push for him after failing to land him prior to the deadline.) However, the Grizzlies stand out as the team that should most strongly consider trading down. Since Memphis will cede a future first-round pick to the Celtics, it has extra incentive to use this pick to acquire another asset.

After the lottery, Gentry also hugged Grizzlies director of player support Elliot Perry, who told The Undefeated he got more than 50 text messages after Memphis landed the No. 2 pick. Perhaps the rebuilding Grizzlies can now trade veteran point guard Mike Conley with the expected addition of Ja Morant, who averaged 24.5 points, 10 assists and 5.7 rebounds for Murray State last season. “I love the way he plays,” Perry said of Morant. “I will leave the selecting up to the guys that make the pick. But if you look at the way he played, with a lot of excitement, passion and toughness, that is what we need. You pair him with J.J. [Jaren Jackson] and you got two young guys with our franchise that we can build around.”

The team knows Conley’s not the type of player to publicly submit a trade request. He’s not going to rock the boat, that’s never been his style. But that doesn’t mean he’s not open to being moved. “I’ll never demand anything like that. I’m not going to shut a door because of the situation I’m in,” he said. “Ultimately, because of the way it happened, with management opening the door and basically saying, ‘Here, he’s up for trade’, that put that doubt in my mind to begin with. That was the beginning of, like, ‘I’ll be OK if that happens.’ Before that, I would have been super surprised and hurt if I’d been traded. Now, it’s all I’ve been thinking about for two or three months now, my future, what’s going to happen.”

“I’ve been the good soldier. And I think that’s part of the reason I didn’t get traded. They know I’m not going to raise hell because I didn’t get traded when you told me that I might. I’m not going to have animosity, I’m still going to say hello to you when I see you in the morning. They think — he’s the guy they’re going to keep or have in a sticky situation, he’s the guy to do it. He’s not going to raise hell or anything. “They always say the good guys finish last, and I’ve always been that guy. I’m a good guy, I’m still here, I’m still showing up, fighting every day, literally playing for — we were playing for nothing for the majority of the second half of the season. I mean, convey the pick, but for me that’s not a goal. I’m trying to win, trying to make the playoffs, that kind of stuff.”

“In this day and age in the NBA, talent moves around so much that it’s almost like there’s no value to that identity that you have with the city,” said Mike Conley Sr., Conley’s father and agent. “So that part is tough, but that’s part of the business now. “So, if the Grizzlies are in a rebuild, Mike can’t be around for that. It’s unfair to put him in that situation. He’s given too much to the program and to the city for him to have to be put through that. So, I hope whatever they end up doing, they do the right thing by him.”

“It’s just really late in my career, and I want to have a chance to win,” Conley said. “I want to be able to contend and compete or have an opportunity. Whether that’s here or anywhere, I’d love to have that opportunity, but I love Memphis. I love being here. I love all of the things we’ve created and still are creating. But if they’re willing to trade me to help force that rebuild, then I am all for competing for championships and other things like that elsewhere.”

The night before the Feb. 7 trade deadline, Conley tried to remain calm during what many around the NBA assumed would be his final hours with the Grizzlies. I don’t feel any stress, Conley told himself. I’m good. I’m just going to go lay down and go to sleep. Instead, he spent the night sleepless and continually checked his phone. “Like somebody’s going to call me to say, ‘Oh, you’ve just been traded,’ at 4 in the morning,” he said. “I couldn’t control that and I still couldn’t turn my mind off.”

Memphis seriously discussed sending Conley to the Jazz prior to the deadline, and those talks could pick back up in June, according to multiple front office executives. The Kings, who owe their pick to the Celtics, could also bolster Boston’s chances at Davis if they keep losing (the pick would go the Sixers if it’s no. 1). Only a couple of games separate teams in the lottery; we’ve entered the doldrums of the season, but the tanking race connects teams to the defining story lines of the summer.

Conley admits even he isn’t exactly sure where his calm, even-keeled demeanor comes from. He suspects his parents and upbringing have a large role in it. In a locker room with nine new faces added since opening night, in the midst of a season that has slipped away, Conley and his personality have been one of the lone sources of familiarity for this Grizzlies team. Conley also is aware that his time in Memphis may not be for long. The Grizzlies had at least one deal on the table for him three weeks ago and passed on it. Given the circumstances, he can’t help but find himself looking past this season at times, wondering what’s in store for him during the offseason.

“It’s definitely hard not to, given the last few weeks man,” Conley said. “It’s obviously been emotional. It’s definitely hard not to look at the summer, what’s going to happen and what’s the plan and stuff like that. For me, the challenge is to just stay locked in as much as I can and be present and be the guy for this team who can be that leader, help the younger guys.” “I have a bigger-than-me attitude and I just have to keep that going for the next couple months,” he continued.

“First half just looking at the bench and seeing Marc being on the bench, just cheering, it was like man, this is it,” Conley said. “It crossed my mind, every timeout, just looking at the crowd, looking back at the bench, coaches and players and seeing my wife and kids in the stands, the same spot they’ve been in for 12 seasons. Just trying to take it all in. If it is the last time, don’t want to leave anything, no regrets.”

Perhaps of greatest intrigue, the Toronto Raptors have called Memphis offering Jonas Valanciunas and Kyle Lowry for both of Conley and Gasol, league sources told Sports Illustrated. Memphis, sources said, would prefer to receive younger players such as OG Anunoby or draft assets in any exchange with Toronto that would send Conley north. The Grizzlies of course rejected Toronto’s initial offer. Lowry has been made aware of Toronto’s negotiations involving him, according to once source close to the All-Star point guard.

In order to potentially tip Memphis away from the Jazz’s offer, which will likely involve Ricky Rubio, a 2019 first-round pick and an assortment of contracts to make the finances match up, Detroit will have to go one step further in the asset department. Jackson and a first-round pick won’t get it done. Rubio’s contract comes off the book next year, so in order for the Grizzlies to be enticed to hold onto Jackson for another year, the Pistons will likely have to add in second-year guard Luke Kennard, who is of interest to Memphis, according to a league source, and the only tangible asset on the roster.

It’s been firmly reported that the Utah Jazz have been offering Ricky Rubio and their 2019 pick for Mike Conley, which doesn’t quite work financially. Utah has to add more money to the deal. The working assumption off of that report has been that the Jazz would be more likely to want to add Derrick Favors ($17 million non-guaranteed next season), while the Grizzlies would prefer young guard Dante Exum (roughly $10 million in each of the next two seasons).

Marc Stein: “[Trading Mike Conley] is not easy, but I think from a pure basketball perspective, he would certainly help the Jazz. Everything I’ve heard today in my checking is, yes, Utah is still on this, they would love to find a way to make this happen if they can, so I think [Conley to Utah] is one we have to keep an eye on. I know people have thrown out Indiana with Conley’s ties there, that would be a fun one to see happen, but the chatter to this point has really been about Conley landing in Utah. So if there is a leader in that race, I would have to say it’s the Jazz.”
4 months ago via ESPN

Detroit remains my favorite Conley team, though Memphis would likely have to swallow Reggie Jackson’s contract — or reroute him to a third team — to snare one or two nice assets from the Pistons (perhaps a lightly-protected first-round pick and one of Detroit’s young wings.) The teams have talked, but not gotten far, sources say. It’s unclear if there are any other serious bidders. Everyone around the Conley sweepstakes expects it to heat up over the weekend.

It’s been a tumultuous week for Conley and Gasol. Grizzlies owner Robert Pera called them on Tuesday with news that the Grizzlies had decided to put them on the trade block. Afterward, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski made the trade news public on Twitter. Conley appreciates that he heard the news from Pera rather than Twitter, but it hasn’t made this week easier to navigate. He and Gasol have had to answer questions about a trade situation they didn’t ask for and has no clear timeframe or resolution. They’ve been tasked with eulogizing an era that has yet to come to a close. “During the game you’re not so much caught up into that, until you finish and you look up like, ‘what if that was it,” Conley said after Wednesday’s loss to the Hornets. “It’s tough to look back and think of all the memories we’ve had. It’s been a long ride, and a successful one at that.”

As we head into trade deadline season, the Jazz continue to search for that dynamic third piece that up to this point has eluded them, league sources tell The Athletic. According to sources, the Jazz have expressed interest in Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley and Wizards small forward Otto Porter Jr., both of whom have been put on the trade block by their respective teams. Does that mean the Jazz will for sure actively make offers for one or both? Not necessarily. But it does mean if circumstances align, the Jazz may have interest in throwing their hat into the ring.

The Memphis Grizzlies may be ready to start rebuilding, listening to trade offers for the NBA’s longest-tenured teammates. Guard Mike Conley said Grizzlies owner Robert Pera had told both he and center Marc Gasol on Tuesday that they will be mentioned in potential trade talks. Pera “called me just to make me aware that they were going to go about doing this,” Conley said after Wednesday’s shoot-around before their game against the Charlotte Hornets. “Outside of that, I haven’t really thought about it or heard much about it.”

Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff says he has received no directives from the front office on playing limitations or how to use Conley and Gasol in the weeks before the trade deadline. “It’s obviously a distraction. It’s obviously on people’s minds,” Bickerstaff said. “But the only way we can handle it is by paying attention to what’s important now. We have no control over tomorrow. We don’t have any control over what happened yesterday. .We can’t waste energy on the what ifs, the possibilities.”

Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are available. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported tonight that the Grizzlies would explore the trade market for each player ahead of the Feb. 7 NBA trade deadline, and this was subsequently confirmed to The Daily Memphian by a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking. It doesn’t mean that a trade for either (much less both) will happen in the next couple of weeks, but what was almost certainly already a possibility now becoming so transparently public probably makes it more likely.

What are the chances that Memphis will opt for the mega blow-up and move Mike Conley along with Gasol. As a Nuggets fan, he is my dream point guard, to pair with Jokic and Milsap. Is Jamal Murray, a first, and anyone not named Jokic, Milsap, or Harris enough to get Conley? David Aldridge: Well, you can’t ask a team for its best player and give them your third or fourth-best player, Phil. Memphis is going to ride Conley and Gasol for the foreseeable future, but if the Grizzlies were to talk trade with Denver, it would almost certainly have to include Harris or Jokic as part of a package for Conley — and the Nuggets, almost certainly, would pass.
1 year ago via ESPN

Grizz not trading Gasol, Conley?

“We have no intention to trade Marc,” Wallace told ESPN when asked if the franchise might consider dealing the 32-year-old big man. “We never seriously considered that at all. We never placed any calls to any teams in that regard. So that’s not happening. “It’s not just Marc that this whole equation is about. It’s also Mike Conley, when he comes back. We’ve got two guys among the elite in the league at their respective positions that are still very much in their window with an awful lot of tread left on their tires.”

General Manager Chris Wallace declined comment on the prospect of trading, or not trading, any particular player citing the complexities and often rapidly changing environment that exists within the NBA trade market. However, Wallace was willing to give, in no uncertain terms, what the Grizzlies’ intentions are as of now regarding Conley. “If you look back at the five years since the tide has turned for this franchise (since the 2011 playoff berth and the start of the “Grit-Grind” era),” Wallace told CBS Sports this week, “we have re-signed every core player for the Memphis Grizzlies.”
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