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Report: Memphis Grizzlies “locked in” on Ja Morant at #2 overall

Not good for #content

Murray State v Auburn Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Well, this makes for a more boring month.

According to a report from NBA Draft Analyst Jonathan Givony of ESPN, the Memphis Grizzlies may have already made their decision on who to take #2 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Ja Morant, welcome to Memphis(?)

The Murray State point guard is widely regarded as at worst the #3 prospect in this entire draft class...but a majority of pundits and Grizzlies fans alike have Morant ahead of his fellow “Not Zion Williamson, but still really good” draft tier mate RJ Barrett of Duke. There’s no denying Morant’s explosiveness, and his star power potential will surely re-energize a fan base in Memphis that needs all the good news that it can get after two seasons of discontent.

This report, coming less than 24 hours after winning the #2 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery, is a bit peculiar, however. The refreshed Grizzlies front office, led by Jason Wexler and Zachary Kleiman, had (technically still has) an opportunity to use the element of surprise as new NBA brass after such a lucky result. Will they take Barrett? Will they trade the pick? Will they keep Mike Conley, meaning Morant may not be the man at #2 overall?

If this report is indeed true, then the air ran out in that balloon on this particular asset rather quickly.

On the other hand, this could be a sign of good things to come. The Grizzlies have a plan. Perhaps they had this set in place long before the draft if it were to occur, and now that the dream is real they know who their man is, and they want him to wear Beale Street Blue alongside Jaren Jackson Jr. They want them running the pick and roll like a younger and more athletic Mike Conley and Marc Gasol once did for the Grizzlies, and they don’t want to be too cute about it.

There’s value in that, of course...especially if Morant is #2 on their draft boards.

What does this mean for Mike Conley? It’s too soon to say, but Morant would obviously be the heir apparent. The Grizzlies may be less concerned about the #WePlayToConvey movement now after this brilliant strike of luck, and taking Ja could very well mean Mike’s days are numbered. The value of Mike Conley will continue to be explored in this space, but if it is known Memphis is ready to move on from Mike, any potential added worth on that return may have just been lost.

At the end of the day, the Conley trade is just another brick in the wall of this rebuild. That doesn’t devalue Mike and what he has meant to Memphis and their Grizzlies - it just means the time to move on may well be upon us even sooner than we thought. Ja Morant, as Slam Magazine declared, may very well be the future of basketball...

And that journey may begin - and hopefully end - in Memphis.

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