The Memphis Grizzlies are sending star veteran guard, Mike Conley, to the Utah Jazz for Kyle Korver, Grayson Allen and Jae Crowder, the 23rd overall pick in this Thursday’s NBA draft and a protected 2020 pick.
This marks an end of an era in Memphis. Conley, 31, was the last player from the “grit and grind” Grizzlies as Zach Randolph signed with the Sacramento Kings in 2017 and last year Marc Gasol was traded to Toronto at the trade deadline. Last year Conley, who has played all 12 seasons in the NBA with the Grizzlies, leads the franchise in points (11,733), assists (4,509), 3-pointers (1,086) and games played (788).
For Memphis, they are clearly rebuilding. The Grizzlies finished 33-49 last year and now hold the second and 23rd pick in the draft. The Grizzlies are slated to select Murray State guard, Ja Morant, at number two, which explains why they moved on from Conley. Conley also has a hefty contract for the next two years as he’s making a base salary of $32.5 million and $34.5 million.
On the other side, the Jazz are looking like contenders for the NBA Finals, especially with the Golden State Warriors suffering huge injuries that make the West wide open for the taking. With this move, it might certainly mean that guard, Ricky Rubio, will be elsewhere next season. Last year Conley averaged 21.1 points, 6.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds, which will be greatly appreciated next to Donovan Mitchell.
The starting five for the Jazz is going to be dangerous and very underrated: Conley, Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert. The Jazz have two offensive stars, a defensive star and great shooter in Ingles. The question for the Jazz will be the depth because they are going to need a reliable sixth man and a second guard for Conley. Crowder and Korver were the Jazz notable players off the bench, and they are gone, so you would think free agency would be a chance to blossom that bench. I love Conley as well, he is a great player and has been under the radar because it’s Memphis, but he is known for injuries, so a reliable point guard off the bench would be a nice plan B for the Jazz. If Rubio comes back on a team friendly deal for a year, that would be solid enough for the Jazz.
I don’t think Memphis is done making moves. They might make a few moves at the draft or we will have to wait to the trade deadline. Let’s be honest, do we see Korver staying in Memphis? Of course not. Korver, 38, would help the Grizzlies in shooting, but he needs and will go to a contender. Crowder, 28, is young enough where Memphis can keep him and perhaps be a big contributor to the growth of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Morant. This might be a stretch, but if Crowder returns to Boston Celtic Jae Crowder, the Grizzlies might have a chance to get some good trade offers.
Some may say the Grizzlies didn’t get enough back and I can understand that point, but with Memphis rebuilding, getting Allen, two draft picks and a chance to trade Korver and Crowder for more picks or young players, I say it’s fine. Another big piece for Memphis is that they finally get Conley’s contract off the books.
The Grizzlies aren’t going to be good this upcoming year, but their future is shaping up fine with Jaren Jackson Jr. and the for sure second overall pick in Ja Morant. We just have to see how much Grayson Allen pans out and see how they can develop the 23rd pick and future assets. For the Utah Jazz, it’s going to be very exciting basketball in Salt Lake City. If the Jazz can stay healthy and get a few pieces for that bench, they should be an NBA Finals contender that many people are going to underestimate.