When news of the Mike Conley Jr. trade to Utah broke, it sent shockwaves through the NBA. Conley has always been one of the most underrated point guards in the game, and his career in Memphis put him in historic company as the franchise’s leader. Mike Conley’s contract situation and the Grizzlies’ rebuilding plan set the trade in motion, but it makes sense for all parties involved.
What Mike Conley provides for the Utah Jazz
Utah traded Kyle Korver, 2018-19 rookie Grayson Allen, Jae Crowder, and two first-round picks to Memphis for Mike Conley. Pairing Conley up with Donovan Mitchell gives the Jazz the point guard they’ve been missing, a defensive presence, and a mentor to younger players in the locker room.
Mitchell is one of the best volume shooters in the league, and he averaged nearly 24 points per game this season for the Jazz. The Western Conference is incredibly deep, but the Jazz could still be one of the best teams in the conference with Conley on the roster.
How it helps the Grizzlies rebuild
The trade gives the Grizzlies cap flexibility. They are likely to waive Korver’s $3.4 million cap hit before July 7, and Crowder is on a relatively cheap $7.5 million deal. Crowder has always been underappreciated at all of his stops, but he is a veteran who can make plays on both sides of the ball at the small forward position.
The Grizzlies used the No. 23 pick in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder and acquired Brandon Clarke, who, OKC drafted at No. 21. Adding Clarke and Ja Morant, Memphis’ No. 2 pick in the draft, will give the Grizzlies a young nucleus that can grow and develop into a future contender in the West.
How can Conley fit into the locker room
One of the biggest highlights of the ESPN+ show Rookie: Year 2 was the relationship between Conley and rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. The two had great chemistry on and off the court, and their relationship helped Jackson Jr. blossom into a star and land on the All-Rookie team.
You can expect a similar role for Conley in Utah, as Donovan Mitchell has a chance to be a future superstar. Having Conley there to guide him and be a calming presence in the locker could be the key to a potential championship run for Utah.
Can Mike Conley finally enjoy a deep playoff run?
The Grizzlies had a few seasons where they were the toughest defensive team in the NBA. Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, Conley, and Marc Gasol all made it hard for teams to score on them, and they gutted out several gritty playoff performances during their prime years together. With Mike Conley in Utah, the West should look vastly different at the start of next season.
Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson could both miss the entire season, and neither of them may be in a Golden State Warriors uniform next season. Kawhi Leonard could head to the Los Angeles Clippers if he doesn’t resign with Toronto, and the Lakers just added Anthony Davis.
You also can’t forget the volcano about to erupt in Houston, so the conference is wide open. The Grizzlies could finish with a top-four seed, or they could miss the playoffs completely. We find that sentence hard to believe, but if the Lakers make the playoffs next year, which they should if Anthony Davis and LeBron are both healthy, which team is the odd one out?
Is everyone a winner in this trade?
When you go back and look at the deal, it is easy to see how everyone involved won the trade. Utah upgraded the point guard position, Conley got out of Memphis, and the Grizzlies jumpstarted their rebuild. The only thing that could make this trade better is if the Grizzlies and Jazz meet in the 2020 postseason.