Conley And Gasol Trade Destinations Part 1: Mike Conley

As most of these things go, Woj came out yesterday with a mini Woj-Bomb and alerted the NBA world that the Grizzlies have begun to listen to offers for Marc Gasol and Mike Conley.

This was obviously some huge news as Conley and Gasol have dawned Memphis blue for 12 and 11 years respectively and have been the face of the franchise for the passed decade. After starting out hot they’ve lost 19 of 23 games en route to a 19-28 record, the 14th best mark in the conference, and a need to go in a different direction. As any NBA nerd would do after news like this, I hopped into the ESPN NBA Trade Machine and put on my GM hat to see where Gasol/Conley may end up.

I have set this up in two separate blogs with one being all about Conley deals and the other focusing on Gasol. Let’s start off with the elder statesman of the two, Mike Conley.

Detroit:

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DETROIT ALSO INCLUDES A 2019 FIRST ROUND PICK AND A 2020 SECOND ROUND PICK IN THE DEAL

I’ve watched a lot of Pistons basketball (too much) and I’ve come to a conclusion on one thing for certain: Reggie Jackson is not, and will not be a viable starting point guard, ever. Also, for a team who has 140 million committed to Blake Griffin over the next 4 years and 80 million committed to Andre Drummond over the next 3, they aren’t in the game to tear it all down. They’re in win-now mode and Conley gives them a star level point guard to run the offense around Griffin and Drummond. In such a wide-open Eastern Conference this solidifies them as the 6th best team and maybe they’ll be able to break into the top 5 with their added firepower.

For Memphis, while Reggie Jackson isn’t great, they’re committed to a rebuild and having him as your bridge point guard for the rest of this season and some of next year isn’t a bad idea. Johnson and Kennard are two young pieces who they can develop over time (Stanley Johnson is a hand in glove fit for Memphis) and become pieces in the future. The draft picks are there to sweeten the deal a bit as Detroit’s first this year should fall between 15-20 and then Galloway is a throw-in to make money work.

Phoenix:

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PHOENIX ALSO INCLUDES 2019 FIRST ROUND PICK FROM MILWAUKEE (1-3 AND 17-30 PROTECTED, 1-7 PROTECTED 2020, 2021 UNPROTECTED) IN THE DEAL

The Suns, another team that desperately needs a point guard to run their offense and get the most out of their studs, should be in on Conley. Devin Booker has notably lost a TON of games in his first few years in Phoenix, and after locking him up though the 2023-24 season, they might want to start putting some guys around him.

Enter Mike Conley. A battle-tested veteran with the moxie and ability to bring the Suns to the next step in their rebuild. While his contract is an albatross (owed around 100 million over the next three years), he’s the type of player they need to get in the door and then bank on the development of Booker and Ayton around him. They should be due another top five pick and can add that to the trove of assets they have. You could do a whole lot worse than a core built around Booker, Ayton, and Conley and if I were the Suns I’d pick up that phone.

This deal gives the Grizzlies a ton of young talent and possibility to bring in more young talent. T.J. Warren has taken a step averaging 18/4/2 on 48.6%/42.5%/81.5% shooting splits, Josh Jackson has upside as a swingman/wing-defender, and Bender is still only 21 years old. The pick also should bump to next year and convey as a late first rounder. If it’s not enough, the Suns also have picks down the line they could throw in to make it a bit more enticing for Memphis.

Dallas:

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DALLAS ALSO INCLUDES A 2020 FIRST ROUND PICK AND 2021 SECOND ROUND PICK IN THE DEAL

After that weird stretch where Dallas just didn’t let DSJ play, it’s noted they want to move the second-year guard. He returned to the lineup last night but it’s still known throughout the league that the Mavericks want someone else next to Doncic for the future. What better person to put next to Doncic to show him the ropes than Mike Conley. I assume the Mavericks might want somebody a bit lest costly than Conley but it’s an interesting talking point nonetheless. If the possibility is on the table they would be fools not to at least look into it as they have a lot of money committed the next few years and few results to show for it.

For Memphis they bring in young pieces DSJ and Jalen Brunson while also getting an expiring contract in Matthews. Powell still has a player option for next year but he’s also off the books pretty soon. Dennis Smith Jr. has boat loads of potential and all he needs is a coach/system to bring it all out. He’s been shooed out of town by Doncic and a fresh start could be the best thing for him and his development. On top of that they also get a couple of picks down the line to either trade or pick players of their own.

Indiana:

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INDIANA ALSO INCLUDES 2020 AND 2021 SECOND ROUND PICKS IN THE DEAL

By far the scariest of these possibilities as a Celtics fan is if the Pacers were able to make this deal. Darren Collison has been fine this season but getting another big name guard in there next to Oladipo just makes sense if they want to make that step from Eastern Conference contender to Eastern Conference frontrunner. Also, with the exit of both Sabonis and Young in this deal they bring back JaMychal Green to fill the void at the 4. They still might need another big unless they have faith in TJ Leaf, but they could find one on the buyout market or deal for one. Conley would fit right in with Nate McMillan’s defensive focused gameplan and I could see him being beloved in the state of Indiana. Jevon Carter is also a grinder who I could see getting some run for Indiana based off of his perimeter defense alone.

In Memphis’ case, the real prize here is Domantas Sabonis. He’s been a force this season as at only 22 years old he’s averaging 15/10/3 in 25 minutes of play while shooting a staggering 61/7% from the floor. His upside as both a rebounding menace and an offensive savant in the post/mid-range game make him a hot commodity in the NBA today. With so many teams focusing on running their offense through bigs Sabonis is a prototype for this style of play. Also, if the Pacers wanted to hold onto Sabonis I could see them moving Turner instead, but both have immense upside and real value to the Grizzlies. Young and Joseph are both expiring contracts who the Grizzlies can make a decision on in the offseason, while Doug McDermott still shows promise as a spot up three-point shooter.

(I’ve convinced myself this Indiana deal is going to happen and I’m going to be tossing and turning for WEEKS over it.)

-Chuck

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