On Thursday, Tony Jones of The Athletic published an article discussing the Utah Jazz and how they are only a piece or two away from breaking through and being a top two team in a loaded Western Conference. One name that has been floating around as a potential addition to the Jazz is current Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley.
The Jazz have seen themselves lose in the second round the past two years – this following a four year playoff drought. The likes of George Hill, Rudy Gobert, peak Gordon Hayward and a top 5 defense helped them in 2016-’17. After Hayward bolted for Boston, Donovan Mitchell took his place as the alpha of the squad and Utah also added guys like Ricky Rubio to the mix.
Related: Mike and Marc on the Trade Block
Currently the Jazz are in 7th place in the West with a record of 27-22.
Mitchell and Gobert are the core of this team and that won’t (and shouldn’t) change. Gobert is under contract through 2020-21, making $23mm, $25mm, and $26.5mm from now until then and Mitchell is on his rookie contract through the same season.
I think it is obvious that Mike Conley would make the Jazz better with his playoff experience and ability to play both a ball-dominant and off-ball guard. He is a career average 37% three point shooter and is averaging a career high in points this season at 33.6 minutes per game – albeit on reduced efficiency. He would likely benefit from having another backcourt player who can score the ball and take some stress off of his current offensive workload.
Now, the question is: what would a deal between Utah and Memphis involving Mike Conley look like? *fires up the ole NBA trade machine*
We know that any deal that moves Mike either needs to earn Memphis draft picks or young players with high upside.
A trade proposal by HoopsHabit looks something like this:
Utah would also include their first round draft pick for this season (would be 19th right now).
Deal Or No Deal?
Ideally, Memphis would like to work with a team that has a higher draft pick than where Utah’s will likely fall.
In a vacuum. I think that this accomplishes the goal for Memphis. You get a young player in Exum who could “potentially” become a solid NBA player – he was drafted 5th overall – if he can stay healthy. Also, you get a first round draft pick. If I were to not get any other offers for Mike, I would make the move. Knowing that I am probably keeping my first round pick this year, I would probably look to have the pick from Utah come a year or two down the road to help give me some assets when Memphis conveys the pick eventually owed to Boston.
That being said, Memphis is probably looking for someone even younger than Exum (23 years old) to fill that bucket of “young prospect to grow with Jaren”. Also, the Grizzlies would prefer a better draft position for their pick compared to where Utah’s will probably fall.
In theory this trade checks off all of the boxes for the Grizzlies, but there are a few things holding me back. The first of which being Dante Exum and his injury history. After suffering an ACL tear in 2015 and a shoulder in 2017, the Australian guard once again finds himself on the sidelines – this time with an ankle sprain.
I can understand why one would be excited about Exum’s potential, he has shown an ability to distribute the ball and get to the rim, which would be a nice fit alongside Jaren Jackson, Jr. But outside of this nice stretch of games in December, Exum has been fairly inconsistent in his 4 seasons on the floor and is yet to average over 20 minutes per game in a season and couldn’t beat out Raul Neto for Utah’s backup PG position early in the season.
The Rubio expiring is fine, but I almost rather find a 3rd team to take him on to bring in more young assets. I do have to admit that it would be fun as hell to watch Ricky play with Jaren, so I wouldn’t hate it depending on what the front office’s plans for the future are. LOL plans for the future!!
Packaging the Memphis pick this year with the Utah pick isn’t necessarily a bad idea, I’m just not sure what that actually gets you in return. So like Bro, I’d probably need that first for a later draft. Outside of Grayson Allen being about as cool as stepping on a bag of burning shit, he could be a rotation player.
Lastly, I just don’t want to send Mike Conley to Salt Lake City. Even with Mike being a homebody that doesn’t get out and about too much, the transition from Memphis to SLC would be quite interesting.
Other Deals On The Table?
There are also some trade scenarios/rumors out there involving teams like Detroit (potentially good pick), Dallas (young talent), and Philly (good players) that Chris Wallace – or whoever is GM at that point – might see come across his desk.
No matter how you slice and dice it, trading away Mike Conley is not a decision to be taken lightly and hopefully the Grizzlies can find a way to maximize the return on a player who has meant so much for the city and franchise over the last 12 years.
Feature Image [Chris Nicoll, USA TODAY Sports via REUTERS ]