SALT LAKE CITY — A day ahead of the 2019 NBA draft, the Utah Jazz front office struck a major deal to try and get the team over the hump.
After months of rumors and speculation, a Deseret News source confirmed Wednesday that the Jazz have traded for Memphis standout point guard Mike Conley Jr. in exchange for a package of players and draft picks.
Utah will send Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder and Grayson Allen to the Grizzlies in exchange for the Memphis star, whose name has been linked to the Jazz in the rumor windmill since before the February trading deadline.
The Jazz will also send this year’s first-round pick — No. 23 overall — and a future first-round pick to the Grizzlies, according to ESPN.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski were the first to break the news, but the deal can’t become official until July 6.
Conley, 31, will replace Jazz floor general Ricky Rubio, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Conley averaged 21.1 points, 6.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds last season and is considered to be an upgrade over Rubio, who put up nightly averages of 12.7 points, 6.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds last season.
Erasing any doubt about wanting to play in Utah, Conley expressed his emotions via social media with a farewell post to Memphis, while also embracing the next chapter of his career in Salt Lake City.
"What more can I say about my city! You guys made me the man I am today! Memphis is home. Always!" Conley tweeted after the deal. "..Time for another chapter! Excited to give all I have to The Jazz and Salt Lake City!"
Immediately following the trade, Rubio also tweeted: “... it’s time to just be happy. Being angry, sad and overthinking isn’t worth it anymore. Just let things flow. Be positive.”
Rubio expressed earlier this month to a Spanish journalist that the Jazz front office told him he was “not a priority” this summer so the writing of a possible departure was already on the wall. Ahead of the trade deadline, Rubio admitted to being bothered by the Conley rumors but still put his pride to the side to help the Jazz reach the first round of the playoffs against Houston.
“Yeah, I’m not gonna lie — it affected me. We’re (people) and we have feelings,” Rubio said during April’s season-ending media session. “… I tried to stay as positive as I could and focus on the team and what we were doing here, but it’s hard. A player like me, I play with heart, and you wanna go out there and play with heart, but you don’t know if tomorrow you’re gonna be here, so it’s tough.”
In Utah, Conley will be paired in the backcourt with Jazz rising star Donovan Mitchell. Conley averaged 14.9 points on 44.1 percent shooting (37.5 percent from 3-point range) and 5.7 assists in 12 seasons with Memphis.
Throughout the pre-draft process, the Jazz brought in nearly 80 prospects and will pick at No. 23 for the Grizzles but also hold the 53rd pick on Thursday.
In the Conley deal, the Jazz will send a protected 2020 first-round pick to the Grizzlies, according to Wojnarowski. That pick will convey as a late-lottery pick in 2020 or 2021 or become a lightly protected pick from 2022-'24, Wojnarowski reports.50 comments on this story
“I’m fairly satisfied with the people we got in. … there’s probably some guys who will slide in the draft that we didn’t get in that we thought we should have gotten in, but it’s a give-and-go with the agents,” said Jazz vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin. “For the most part, I think we got in players who we wanted to get in.”
“I thought at the beginning of the year, it wouldn’t be a very good draft,” he added. “I think I’m going to be proven wrong on that one. I think there’s some good players that could go even early in the second round.”