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Do you really want to trade Mike Conley?

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I mean, if you want to blow it up, you have to trade Mike Conley too. It might not be a glamorous return though.

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

In my latest GBB article, I discuss the idea of starting to build the team around Jaren Jackson Jr. this summer, while potentially setting yourself up to avoid the Anthony Davis dilemma.

In that, I say that it’s time to think about building the team around their 19-year old unicorn, not Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. Whether that comes by trades, free agency, or simply a reduction of roles, it needs to happen this summer.

If Gasol walks this summer, they must trade Conley.

Don’t get me wrong. Conley could ride out his contract. Conley, Jackson, and Anderson could be a competitive trio for two years, if the Grizzlies optimize its cap space. If he does stay though, they had better have a better apprentice than Jevon Carter. They must go into free agency to find his inevitable replacement.

Really though, if they want to look towards the future with Jackson, they must explore trade packages for Mike Conley before he walks.

Ignoring salaries for this exercise, as the optimal time to trade Conley will be in the offseason.


Trade Destinations - The Final Step?

Playoff teams looking for the next step, and a floor general like Mike Conley could solidify some of these squads as contenders.

Indiana Receives: Mike Conley

Memphis Receives: Myles Turner & Doug McDermott

Why Indiana does it: Indiana really does this deal if they believe the Sabonis and Turner pairing won’t work. Conley would be an upgrade over Darren Collison, as he’d be an excellent floor general next to Oladipo. Unloading McDermott and Turner simply gives Indiana an All-Star point guard and more cap space to build a Pacer team that could legitimately contend with the Celtics, Sixers, Bucks, and Raptors.

Why Memphis does it: Kyle Anderson, Myles Turner, and Jaren Jackson Jr. in the frontcourt together? Have fun trying to score. Turner and Jackson would be a nice 4-5 pairing for the next 5-10 years, as both players can protect the rim, switch in the pick-and-roll, and space the floor. McDermott is also a cheap-ish shooter that could come off the bench as a 3 or a small-ball 4. It’s a little refresh that could also build a great foundation for years to come.

Utah Receives: Mike Conley

Memphis Receives: Derrick Favors, Dante Exum, and a top-20 protected 2020 first-round pick.

Why Utah does it: Donovan Mitchell needs help. No one else in Utah can create their own shot. With Ricky Rubio being a free agent this summer, and Exum still not flourishing, Conley could become a top target for the Jazz.

Why Memphis does it: Dante Exum could use a fresh start. As a 6’6” guard, he at the least could be a menace defensively — as he showed last playoffs. If he finds his niche offensively, the Grizzlies would have another nice complimentary piece next to Jackson. With Favors, it’s a win-win move. He’s a veteran big man that could keep Jackson at the 4 next season. In addition, his $18M next season is non-guaranteed, which becomes a nice little trade chip.

Denver receives: Mike Conley

Memphis receives: Will Barton & Michael Porter Jr.

Why Denver does it: Well they keep Jokic, Murray, and Harris — which is grand. Conley makes the perimeter small and kind of crowded, but Denver could probably get away with Harris at the 3. Either way, adding Conley to this already well-oiled machine could make them bonafide contenders. Losing Porter might sting a bit, if he actually pans out. On the other hand though, Jokic, Murray, and Harris is a dynamic offensive trio, which makes Porter’s fit borderline questionable.

Why Memphis does it: Will Barton comes home, which will keep season-ticket holders happy. He’s a veteran that can come in and get buckets off the bench. Now this second piece… I was really torn. I almost threw in Mason Plumlee, because he’d be an excellent 5 next to Jackson. However, if you’re Memphis, you ask for Michael Porter Jr. if you’re giving up Conley. Granted, Porter could very well be Parsons 2.0, but the front office needs to take a risk here and go for someone that could be a potential star next to Jackson. It could backfire big time, but it’s better than letting Conley walk for nothing right?

(Following deal proposed to and approved by Kirk Henderson from SB Nation’s Mavs Moneyball)

Dallas receives: Conley

Memphis receives: Dennis Smith Jr. and Dwight Powell

Why Dallas does it: Smith isn’t necessarily the best fit next to Doncic, as both players are at their best with the ball in their hands. Conley, on the other hand, would be great next to Doncic, as he’ll actually get him the basketball. As Conley continues to add miles to his body, it’s hard to see how long he could be a starting-caliber point guard. Pairing him next to Doncic though gives him more catch-and-shoot opportunities. Unloading Powell just seems right, as his deal expires in 2020, and Maxi Kleber is the more intriguing young big man.

Why Memphis does it: Last season, Dennis Smith Jr. was the best point guard in his rookie class, not De’Aaron Fox or Lonzo Ball. He’s an explosive point guard that resembles Steve Francis in a way. For the Grizzlies, it’s a must. Smith fits Jackson’s timeline, and gives Memphis a dynamic duo to build around for the next decade. With Powell, they get a short-term big man that could either start next to Jackson or play behind him and Anderson.


Other Potential, But Not Stellar, Suitors

  • Phoenix

An anonymous person from Phoenix’s SB Nation site proposed Ellie Okobo, Ryan Anderson, and a 2020 first-round pick for Conley. If the pick isn’t unprotected, I’m hanging up the phone, because that’s disgusting. If I’m Memphis, I’m asking for Josh Jackson or Mikal Bridges instead of Okobo.

  • Orlando

Surprisingly, Orlando doesn’t have any glamorous assets for someone like Conley, even after years of sucking. A package consisting of Evan Fournier, Jonathan Simmons, and a lottery-protected 2020 first-round pick is nice, but it’s not the most ideal trade scenario.

  • Detroit

Detroit is desperate to maximize the Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond pairing. They’ve had interest in Conley before, which puts them in this category. However, when your 3rd best trade piece is Luke Kennard, you don’t have the pieces to put together a good package. If I’m Memphis, I’m hitting Detroit with that thank you, next.


NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

You’re probably looking at these deals and thinking about its mediocrity. Nature of the beast though. Conley is an aging point guard, and there are plenty of teams already set at his positions.

When it comes down to it, I’m hesitant on trading Conley. Yes, he’s the best trade piece aside from Jackson. He could potentially net a package that consists a young prospect that could blossom into a complimentary piece next to Jackson.

Again though, don’t get your hopes up. They’re not getting an All-Star or an A-list prospect. Any of these proposed trades though are the best, and maybe most likely, packages for Conley.

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