SALT LAKE CITY — Reports are swirling that the Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies are in talks once again on a trade that would see the Grizzlies send point guard Mike Conley to the Jazz.
After discussions reportedly were active prior to the NBA’s trade deadline in February before ultimately dying, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Monday that “Utah is a frontrunner to acquire Conley should the Grizzlies trade the point guard during draft week.”
The annual NBA draft is on Thursday evening.
If the Jazz were indeed to acquire the 12-year veteran out of Ohio State, the questions moving forward include how that would affect the rest of Utah’s summer and what it would mean for the team on the floor once the 2019-2020 season begins.
In a summer many Jazz fans have been looking forward to the team’s front office staff making a significant move, trading for Conley would fit in that category, both from a financial standpoint as well as an on-court expectation one. The 31-year-old Conley (he’ll be 32 in early October) is slated to make $32.5 million next season, meaning adding him would be the team’s major transaction of the summer.
Said another way, it wouldn’t be possible to trade for Conley and add a marquee free agent such as Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris. Depending on the official timing of the deal and what other players would be involved, Utah could still end up with about $9 million to spend on a free agent, which would probably be enough to get another decent player, but certainly not a star.
Would Conley’s production be worth having his acquisition be “the move” of the summer as the Jazz try to get into the top tier of the NBA’s Western Conference?
Utah enters the offseason needing to address its point guard situation and needing to find a secondary scorer. Conley has never been named an All-Star, but he’s been consistently a high-level point guard for a long time. He’s a steady floor general and he would take more of the scoring load than Ricky Rubio consistently could the last two seasons.
Offensively, he’s been especially good over the last three seasons, as he’s averaged 19.6 points per game. For his career, he has shot 38 percent from behind the 3-point line and has averaged 5.7 assists per contest.
The veteran has never really been viewed as a “bucket-getter” like some other players around the league, but he’s certainly capable of routinely scoring in isolation and/or late-clock situations. If he’s not actually scoring, he’s able to get in the lane and make something happen in most cases. Would that, combined with his good outside shooting, be enough to give the Jazz’s offense the spark it needs?
On the other end of the floor, Conley is a good defender, and he’s averaged 1.5 steals per game over the course of his career. In truth, the biggest thing Utah needs from its guards defensively is the ability to simply stay in front of the opponent long enough for Rudy Gobert to get in position to contest shots at the rim.12 comments on this story
As good of a rim protector as Gobert is, there were some challenges at the beginning of the 2018-2019 season with Rubio being unable to stay in front of his man, and Gobert couldn’t get in good position to contest shots quickly enough. Conley would be an upgrade in this department.
In adding Conley, the Jazz surely would want to construct a deal that wouldn’t cause them to lose too much of their core. There are numerous iterations of a possible deal, with some centered more on draft compensation Utah would surrender and others with more current players involved.
Could a deal get agreed to prior to the draft? We shall see.