Now with Anthony Davis off the trade market, the focus of NBA rumors now falls on Mike Conley and the Memphis Grizzlies ahead of the June 20th NBA Draft.
This past weekend did not disappoint in terms of NBA rumors coming to fruition. The Los Angeles Lakers finally landed their intended target of Anthony Davis. Now, the rest of the league can put the drama aside and focus on real trades that matter, such as who will deal for the Memphis Grizzlies‘ Mike Conley.
While you could argue that Conley may or may not be the biggest name in legitimate trade rumors of the early offseason, his contract speaks for itself. After signing a five-year, $153 million deal to remain with the Grizzlies in 2016, Conley’s annual salary (due $32.5 million next season) is a tough pill to swallow for any team, let alone the ones that really want to add his veteran two-way skill set to their roster.
Conley’s major comeback season in 2018-19 has teams salivating despite his large contract. The common reason for playoff teams — namely the Utah Jazz, Indiana Pacers, and Boston Celtics — being interested in the veteran point guard is due to a disappearing act of sorts regarding their offense in big games and fourth quarters. These moments are where Conley really earns his money, even while performing on a struggling Grizzlies team.
The trade interest in Conley is very similar to the Laker’s Davis situation as well as last year’s Kawhi Leonard predicament by way of the Toronto Raptors. You could even lump February’s Marc Gasol trade into the same conversation. Some teams may already be locked into a playoff spot or even on the cusp of contender status, but they want to swing for the fences and land the player who could very well propel them into the NBA Finals or greater.
Today, the Utah Jazz and Indiana Pacers really need another big piece to head their way. They both are not true contenders in their respective conferences. However, the Boston Celtics appear to be fighting for their contender status, especially after falling far short of their goals in the NBA Playoffs.
Kyrie Irving has opted out of the final year of his contract with the Celtics. He has fired his agent and signed with a different agency. If all of these signs do not spell “moving on,” I do not know what else it would take to guarantee he is done in Boston, except for him to issue a personal statement saying such. Just give it time.
If Irving does in fact leave the Celtics in favor of, say, the Lakers, Brooklyn Nets, or New York Knicks, they have one suitable replacement already on their roster in Terry Rozier. “Scary Terry,” as they call him in Boston, has produced much like a star-level starting point guard in times when Irving was sidelined with injuries in the past. Yet, he does not impress much when playing behind Irving. This is why there should be legitimate concerns from Boston’s perspective when determining if Rozier is ready for the full-time starting role.
If the Celtics falter on the idea of Rozier receiving a promotion, the Grizzlies’ Conley makes perfect sense. In fact, he may fit better with Boston’s current roster than Irving did over the past two seasons. Honestly, would it really take much for Conley to surpass Irving in Beantown?
If a deal were to take place between the Grizzlies and Celtics, it is fairly simple to outline the trade’s framework. For salary-match purposes, Gordon Hayward would be shipped to Memphis, plus at least one Draft pick would have to be added by Boston. Here is an example of a feasible trade between these two teams:
Gordon Hayward, 2019 1st Rd Pick (No. 22)
While this certainly is not the end of Conley trade scenarios that will be generated while he is still placed in a Grizzlies uniform, Grind City Media‘s Mike Wallace has recently detailed some valuable insight into the chance of trade we could see this week as the 2019 NBA Draft draws near. View the discussion directly below:
Wallace believes it is a 90% chance the Grizzlies deal Conley between now and the first week of July, which is rather substantial to say the least. These are strong rumors, and credible, too. For those that may not know Grind City Media’s background, it is a small media group placed within the Grizzlies organization. This is not blind speculation; Mike Wallace does have some intel on his side.
For those that love the art known as NBA trades, it looks like more action outside of the Lakers and Pelicans is soon to come. Now it is about when and where for the Grizzlies’ Conley.
For Memphis, Conley will not be easily replaced. Regardless, he was able to put the finishing touches on his Grizzly tenure in 2018-19, especially after the team dealt Gasol to Toronto. This enabled Conley to run away with many franchise statistical records to his name. If there was ever a time to deal Conley, it is now while his value is high.