Mike Conley's time with the Memphis Grizzlies might soon be over.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Grizzlies will "begin listening" to trade offers for Conley and Marc Gasol in the hopes of reshaping the roster around Jaren Jackson Jr.. If Memphis can't find a destination for one or both of them before next week's trade deadline, its search could continue into the offseason.
Time will tell what the market ultimately is for Conley and Gasol, but there are a number of teams that make sense for them.
As reported by Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated, the Raptors have gauged the Grizzlies' interest in a potential Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas for Conley and Gasol swap.
While at first sight this may seem like a lateral movement for both teams, it could be exactly the switch-up the Raptors need to take another step in emerging as the top contender in the Eastern Conference.
Conley would slide right into Lowry's spot in the starting lineup, immediately providing a scoring threat at a more efficient clip than Lowry. His 43.5 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from 3-point range is an upgrade from Lowry's 40.9 percent from the field and 31.9 percent from three and Conley is scoring 20.3 points per game to Lowry's 14.1 points.
It would also be a seamless transition defensively, as both guards are top-tier defenders at their position.
According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, the Grizzlies have had "exploratory discussions" with the Jazz on a trade involving Conley.
More players would have to be included in the deal to make the salaries work, but this would essentially be a swap for Ricky Rubio. Conley and Rubio impact the game in similar ways - they're both strong defenders and willing passers - only Conley is a far superior scorer and shooter.
The former would give the Jazz a reliable second option on offense and the latter would make him a more natural fit with Donovan Mitchell, who is the future of the franchise.
The risk for the Jazz is they'd be taking on the $66 million remaining on Conley's contract, which would eat up a lot of cap space and prevent them from pursuing a bigger name in free agency this offseason.
The Bucks have the best record in the NBA, so they might hold back on shaking things up ahead of the trade deadline, but they're going to have a big decision to make this offseason when Eric Bledsoe becomes an unrestricted free agent.
If the Bucks believe Bledsoe is their point guard of the future, there's no need to make a move before the trade deadline. He's having the best all-around season of his career, to the point where he was in the running to make the All-Star team for the first time in his career.
If the Bucks don't believe Bledsoe is their point guard of the future, it makes them a clear trade destination for Conley.
Bledsoe and Conley are putting up almost identical numbers this season and Conley is under contract for at least one more season. He's getting paid a lot next season, but there's a chance a team in need of a point guard offers Bledsoe a similar amount over more years in the offseason. In which case, would the Bucks match?
Again, the Bucks have good reason to believe in what they have, especially when you consider the injuries Conley has dealt with in his career. They just can't be ruled out given Bledsoe's situation.
The Pacers make sense for a couple of reasons:
- Conley would likely thrive on the Pacers. It would have been easy to see Conley and Victor Oladipo co-existing on offence because of their versatility, but Oladipo's injury would make this a play for the future. Conley would add another scoring option from the guard spot while picking up Oladipo's defensive matchups.
- Darren Collison and Cory Joseph will be free agents this offseason. Even though they're unlikely to get paid nearly as much as Bledsoe, it could be difficult for the Pacers to retain them both.
The Pacers might not have felt the need to make a move as one of the best teams in the league, but with Oladipo out for the rest of the season, they might be more inclined to make something happen. They have the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference and the fourth-best defensive rating, and adding Conley to the mix would help fill the void left by Oladipo.
Conley would also be a sizeable upgrade over their current starting point guard on both ends of the court, albeit for a lot more money - though that might not be a problem if they have plans of using their cap space to run it back next season with the same core of Oladipo, Turner, Domantas Sabonis, Bojan Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young.
Conley would be a great addition to a Pistons team that has hopes of making the playoffs this season.
Having spent basically his entire NBA career playing alongside Marc Gasol, Conley has experience sharing the court with a talented big man. That's important because the Pistons have not one, but two All-Stars in their frontcourt in Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond.
Conley would likely fit in well with Griffin and Drummond, too. Conley is a far superior 3-point shooter than Reggie Jackson and his ability to create his own shot in pick-and-rolls would both ease Griffin's burden and open up more opportunities for Drummond.
The question is do the Pistons have enough assets to make a trade worth the Grizzlies' while?
Most teams in the NBA right now aren't looking for a point guard.
The Suns aren't one of those teams.
Devin Booker has made incredible strides this season as a playmaker - an important step as he continues to develop into a superstar - but they're still in need of someone other than him who can make plays with the ball in their hands.
While the Suns aren't in as much of a rush as some other teams to compete, Conley would accelerate their rebuild by filling a position of need and providing some much-needed veteran leadership to one of the youngest teams in the league.
The Suns would have to include Ryan Anderson and/or T.J. Warren to come close to matching Conley's salary. Whether or not the Grizzlies would be interested in doing business with the Suns would probably come down to how high they are on how Josh Jackson, Mikal Bridges or De'Anthony Melton, as one or two of them would likely be the reason they agree to a deal.
The Philadelphia 76ers because they have a trade chip in Markelle Fultz and expiring contracts in Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala to pull off another big move.
The San Antonio Spurs because they're in need of a point guard and Conley would be a perfect fit in Gregg Popovich's system.
The Orlando Magic because they're in even more need of a point guard than the Spurs.
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