As the Memphis Grizzlies move toward a full rebuild, these five teams could make a trade offer for Mike Conley.
The Memphis Grizzlies started the 2018-19 season surprisingly well, with a 15-9 record on Dec. 7 and a .500 mark (18-18) as the calendar flipped to the new year. But they faded after that, amid trade rumors surrounding Mike Conley and Marc Gasol (who was traded) heading into the deadline, and finished 33-49.
On Thursday, the Grizzlies fired head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and reshuffled their front office. So a complete rebuild seems to be coming, with Jaren Jackson Jr. as integral piece to build around. Their first-round pick in June is protected through the first eight picks, otherwise it will go to the Boston Celtics to finally complete a 2015 midseason trade for Jeff Green.
In any case Conley had made it clear he wants to win, and secondarily doesn’t want to be part of a rebuild.
His reaction on Twitter to Memphis’ organizational upheaval says it all.
Conley only played 12 games in 2017-18 due to a left heel injury, and he battled multiple injuries this past season on the way to missing 12 games (including the final six, as he was essentially shut down). But he had one of his best seasons, averaging a career-high 21.1 points per game along with 6.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists per contest.
Conley’s is due to make $32.5 million next season, and $34.5 million in 2020-21 under the option for that season that became fully guaranteed when he got to 55 games played this season (via Spotrac). So cap space, and the ability to match that money in a trade, necessarily limits the number of teams who could trade for Conley.
But these five teams should be in the mix to swing a deal with Memphis.
5. Miami Heat
Pat Riley would surely like to add a veteran star, as much as Conley fits that in the way we think of it, and the Heat have a player who continues to be unhappy with his role in center Hassan Whiteside.
Whiteside has a $27 million player option for next season, and it seems like a formality he’ll pick that up as there’s no way he’ll get that kind of money on the open market.
Whiteside has to exercise that option in order to be traded, but if it also paves a path out of Miami it’s a formality on that front too. ESPN’s Trade Machine won’t allow Whiteside to even be moved, but Real GM’s similar tool allows you remove the option restriction and a one-for-one deal for Conley works.
An expiring contract would surely appeal to Memphis, and if Miami includes a first-round pick Conley could wind up in South Beach.