Derrick Favors

Latest On The Mike Conley Trade

The Jazz had been targeting Mike Conley for months before pulling off today’s trade with Memphis, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. Utah made a strong push to get Conley before the February deadline, offering Ricky Rubio, two first-round picks and other expiring contracts that would have provided the Grizzlies with cap relief this summer.

Jones cites “frustration” among Jazz management, which believed Conley would be a difference maker in the postseason, when the offer wasn’t accepted. Utah finished with the fifth seed and a first-round playoff ouster.

“What we found out this year,” Jazz executive Dennis Lindsey said after the season ended, “is that while we were a good team, we weren’t a great team.”

The organization sees Conley as a path to becoming great, viewing him as one of the best pick-rand-roll guards in the league and a strong leader in the locker room. The Jazz were willing to pay a heavy price in the deal, giving up Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver and Grayson Allen, plus this year’s first-round pick and a future conditional first-rounder. Sources tell Jones the Grizzlies insisted on Allen because they wanted “a young player with upside” and were impressed by how he improved during the season.

There’s more fallout from today’s trade:

  • The Pistons and Pacers were both contenders for Conley, but were unwilling to surrender two first-round picks, reports Zach Lowe of ESPN. Sources tell Lowe that even if the Pistons had agreed to meet that price, they might have insisted that Memphis take back Reggie Jackson and his $18MM contract. The Pacers, meanwhile, refused to give up the picks plus first-year guard Aaron Holiday.
  • The Jazz needed to send enough salary to Memphis to enable them to guarantee Derrick Favors‘ $16.9MM contract for next season without going over the salary cap, Lowe adds. He states that the decision to include Crowder in the deal instead of Dante Exum shows a lot of faith in the 23-year-old guard.
  • Lowe also notes that the trade will have a ripple effect on free agency. Utah no longer has the cap space for a max-level offer, which means one less suitor for the Sixers’ Tobias Harris. Point guards who had been hoping for an offer from Utah will also be disappointed. In addition, the trade increases the likelihood that the pick the Grizzlies owe the Celtics won’t convey until 2021, when it will be unprotected. The selection has top-six protection next year.
  • Donovan Mitchell is thrilled to have Conley as his new backcourt partner, tweets Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. “He’s a great player,” Mitchell said. “He’s very underrated in my opinion. He does a lot of getting into the lane and being able to find guys and also I can learn a lot from him so as far as being a point guard.”

Grizzlies To Trade Mike Conley To Jazz

The Grizzlies and Jazz have reached an agreement on a trade that will send standout point guard Mike Conley to Utah, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Memphis will receive a package made up of Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, Grayson Allen, the No. 23 pick in the 2019 draft, and a future first-round pick. Per Wojnarowski (via Twitter), that second first-rounder will be a 2020 pick, which features protections through 2024.

Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian provides the full details on those protections, tweeting that the Grizzlies will get the pick in 2020 or 2021 if it falls in the 8-14 range. If it doesn’t convey in either of those drafts, it would become top-six protected in 2022, top-three protected in 2023, and top-one protected in 2024.

The deal will be completed once the new league year begins in July for cap reasons, according to Wojnarowski and ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter). The Jazz will have to absorb Conley using their newly-opened cap room, but won’t have to waive Derrick Favors‘ non-guaranteed contract to make the deal work, Marks notes (via Twitter).

It’s a huge acquisition for the Jazz, who will be able to pair Conley with Donovan Mitchell in their backcourt, with Favors and Rudy Gobert up front and Joe Ingles providing floor spacing on the wing.

[RELATED: Ricky Rubio not counting on return to the Jazz]

Conley, 31, is coming off perhaps the best season of his NBA career, having averaged a career-high 21.1 PPG to go along with 6.4 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.3 SPG, and a .438/.364/.845 shooting line.

Utah reportedly tried to land Conley at the trade deadline, putting an offer on the table that featured expiring contracts and a first-round pick, but that wasn’t enough to get Memphis to accept. The Jazz figured to face competition for the point guard from possible suitors like the Pacers, Heat, Celtics, and Mavericks when they circled back this offseason, but they were able to get a deal done early in the summer.

The Jazz can now focus on filling out their roster with complementary players. With Conley’s lucrative contract set to hit their books, they’ll no longer be a player for major free agents, but will have the room exception available. It’s projected to be worth $4.76MM.

Conley is owed $32.5MM in 2019/20 and $34.5MM in 2020/21 before his contract expires in 2021. His deal aligns him with Utah’s other core pieces — currently, Mitchell and Gobert are both on track to reach free agency in 2021 as well.

As for the Grizzlies, they’re expected to shift into rebuilding mode after trading long-time cornerstones Marc Gasol in February and Conley now. They’re poised to select Ja Morant with the No. 2 overall pick in tomorrow’s draft to supplant Conley as their point guard of the future. He and Jaren Jackson Jr. project to be the franchise’s building blocks going forward.

It’s not clear yet whether the Grizzlies intend to keep all the players and draft picks they’re acquiring in exchange for Conley. Crowder and Korver are on fairly modest expiring contracts (Korver’s salary is only partially guaranteed) and could appeal to contenders. Allen and the picks, on the other hand, represent solid assets for Memphis’ rebuild, though David Aldridge of The Athletic (Twitter link) hears that the club will listen to offers for the No. 23 selection.

The Grizzlies are also in position to create a massive traded player exception in the swap, assuming they remain an over-the-cap team. Cap expert Albert Nahmad estimates the value of that exception to be about $25MM (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Deveney’s Latest: Conley, Heat, Lakers, Celtics

With the Grizzlies reportedly zeroing in on point guard Ja Morant at No. 2 in this year’s draft, Mike Conley‘s future in Memphis appears very much up in the air.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who reported in March that the Jazz are candidates to re-engage the Grizzlies in Conley trade talks this offseason, reiterated that point this week. However, according to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, Memphis is in the market for “quality” draft picks. Utah holds the No. 23 pick and may not pick in the top 20 anytime soon, so it could be tricky for the club to entice the Grizzlies with a package.

One team to watch in the Conley sweepstakes is Miami, according to Deveney, who writes that Heat president Pat Riley has “long coveted” the veteran point guard. The Heat may not be able to draft a difference-maker at No. 13, and acquiring Conley would allow the club to avoid rolling the dice in free agency in 2020, when few impact players are expected to hit the market.

Here’s more from Deveney on Conley and a few other topics:

  • Deveney also identifies the Pacers and Mavericks as possible suitors for Conley, though Indiana’s cap flexibility may be compromised if the team decides to re-sign a few of its own free agents, making Conley’s contract undesirable.
  • Even if the Lakers can’t acquire Anthony Davis, there’s a sense that they’ll be active on the trade market, writes Deveney. The team has several potential targets in mind, with Bradley Beal at or near the top of that list, depending on whether the Wizards make him available. According to Deveney, Kyle Lowry may also be a target if the Raptors lose Kawhi Leonard in free agency and retool their roster. The Lakers like Derrick Favors too, Deveney adds. Favors could be either a free agent or trade target, depending on what the Jazz do with his $17.65MM team option.
  • There’s some skepticism that the Celtics will use all three of their first-round picks in this year’s draft (Nos. 14, 20, and 22). The type of deal(s) that Boston will pursue may depend on what they expect to happen with Kyrie Irving.

Jazz Notes: Favors, Ingles, Sefolosha, Udoh

The Jazz have until July 6 to decide whether to keep Derrick Favors for another season, but the 27-year-old power forward is certain that he wants to stay in Utah, writes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. The Jazz hold a team option on Favors’ $17.65MM salary for next season and will have close to a week to examine the free agent market before making a final decision.

“I have a team option; I need that option picked up! I would prefer to come back here,” Favors told Walden. “The grass is not always greener on the other side. … I’m happy in the situation that I’m in, in the position that I’m in — I think it’s good for me and the organization.”

Utah can open enough cap room to make a maximum offer by letting Favors go. While that’s enticing, several Jazz players are lobbying for the team to keep Favors, and GM Dennis Lindsey admits that he has enormous value.

There’d be no playoffs this season without Derrick, no playoff advancement the two previous years,” Lindsey said. “I get it, I get it — obviously, Jae [Crowder] comes in and we have some more mobility and spacing. … [But] Derrick Favors isn’t part of the problem, he’s part of the solution.”

There’s more today from Utah:

  • After winning 50, 48 and 51 games the past three seasons, it’s time for the Jazz to take some chances to reach the next level, contends Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. That may mean parting with Favors, along with Kyle Korver and Royce O’Neale, who also have non-guaranteed contracts, and letting unrestricted free agents Ricky Rubio and Raul Neto move on. Deveney suggests finding a Rubio replacement by resuming talks with the Grizzlies about Mike Conley or targeting Nets restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell. While Tobias Harris would fit perfectly, Deveney believes he will stay with the Sixers and sees the Bucks’ Malcolm Brogdon as a possible alternative.
  • Joe Ingles could be switched to a sixth-man role if the Jazz are able to make an upgrade at the wing this summer, according to Mike Sorensen of The Deseret News. Ingles improved as a playmaker this year and his durability makes him valuable however the team decides to use him.
  • As free agents over the age of 30, Thabo Sefolosha and Ekpe Udoh both face uncertain futures in Utah, Sorensen adds in a separate story“I’m going to keep my options open and see what makes sense,” Sefolosha said. “Like I say, I had a great experience here for two years and I think it would be great if I can come back and keep working with this group and keep evolving.”

Western Notes: Paul, House, Prince, Favors, Suns

Rockets point guard Chris Paul was fined $35K for “aggressively confronting and recklessly making contact with a game official” but was not suspended, according to a league press release relayed by ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

Paul was ejected with 4.4 seconds left in Game 1 of the Rockets’ conference semifinal series with Golden State on Sunday. He was whistled for his second technical foul when he made contact with referee Josh Tiven while arguing that Warriors guard Klay Thompson committed a loose-ball foul against him. The non-call on Thompson was correct, according to the NBA’s last two minute report, MacMahon notes. Paul said the contact was accidental.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Rockets reserve forward Danuel House harbors no ill will toward the Warriors for cutting him loose during training camp, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. “I was just trying to secure a job, show people my potential. I just needed an opportunity,” House said. “Those guys didn’t see me fit for it. I’m just grateful my hometown team took me in. It’s business. I respect the nature of the business. But of course I want to win.” House had three points and three rebounds in 21 minutes during the series opener. He had his two-way contract converted into a standard deal in mid-March.
  • Grizzlies executive Tayshaun Prince was promoted to “special advisor” to vice president of basketball affairs but his role won’t change much, as Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian explains. He’ll remain a crucial link from the front office to the players and coaches, though now with more empowerment, Herrington continues. Rich Cho, who was earlier named vice president of basketball strategy, will lead the analytics/research/systems staff while Chris Makris will continue to lead the traditional scouting staff, Herrington adds. Prince will also help evaluate professional, college and G League personnel.
  • Derrick Favors‘ chances of remaining with the Jazz hinge on what happens in the early days of free agency, as Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News explains. Favors’ $16.9MM salary for next season, which could total $18.8MM if he reaches incentives in the contract, becomes guaranteed if he’s on the roster past July 6. If Utah is able to secure a commitment from a free agent power forward, Favors won’t get the guarantee. If it can’t find a suitable replacement by then, the team will likely retain Favors.
  • The Suns are close to hiring Gonzaga assistant coach Riccardo Fois for a major player development role within the organization, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Fois is current the Zags’ coordinator of analytics and video operations.

Jazz Notes: Free Agency, Conley, Rubio, Favors

The Jazz enter the offseason with more flexibility than most teams, but will need to decide how much of their roster they want to keep, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake TribuneRicky Rubio, Thabo Sefolosha and Ekpe Udoh will all be free agents, while five other players – Derrick Favors, Kyle Korver, Georges Niang, Raul Neto and Royce O’Neale – have either partially guaranteed or non-guaranteed contracts for next season.

Larsen expects O’Neale ($1.618MM for 2019/20) and Niang ($1.645MM) to be brought back because they are bargains at their current price. He adds that if Sefolosha or Udoh returns, it will likely be at a reduced salary.

The Jazz can clear up to $36.8 million in cap room by letting that whole group go, enough to offer a max deal in free agency. No matter how much is available, the priority will be to find more outside shooting.

“Adding a sniper at any position is something we’re going to have to strongly evaluate,” GM Dennis Lindsey said.

There’s more news out of Utah:

  • Another option for the Jazz is to revisit trade talks with the Grizzlies regarding point guard Mike Conley, Larsen adds in the same story. The teams weren’t able to work out a deal before the February deadline, and the Jazz were upset with Memphis’ front office because so much of the rumored trade became public. “Unfortunately, a team leaked something, and it was unethical,” Lindsey said.
  • The Jazz will consider all possibilities at point guard this summer, sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic. Those include bringing Rubio back, searching for a replacement in free agency or turning the position over to Donovan Mitchell.
  • Management was expecting this to be Favors’ final season with the team, but he played so well that they will consider picking up his $16.9MM deal for next year, Jones adds. A decision will have to be made by July 6.
  • Mitchell tells Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News he was frustrated by how the season turned out and plans to use the summer to get in better shape. “This is going to be huge for me just for my confidence standpoint and just to getting my mind, my body right and looking at guys and competing against guys like James Harden, Chris Paul and all those guys,” Mitchell said. “If I want to be like those guys, I’ve got to work and train like those guys and I think that’s where it starts.”

Jazz Notes: Rubio, Favors, Offseason

After making the Western Conference Semifinals in 2018, the Jazz kept their roster relatively intact and won another 50 games during the 2018/19 regular season. However, a quick first-round exit has the team thinking about potential roster changes this offseason, writes Mike Sorensen of The Deseret News.

“We want to move the group forward,” general manager Dennis Lindsey said on Thursday. “And while we have a very good team, the results told us that we don’t have a great team.”

A handful of Utah’s veterans, including Ricky Rubio and Derrick Favors, are either headed for unrestricted free agency or have non-guaranteed salaries for next season, meaning there’s no guarantee they’ll be back. While Lindsey praised the “collective character” of the current group, he acknowledged that the roster could look different by the time the 2019/20 season gets underway.

“It’s got to fit the salary structure, it’s got to be a value add that they’re bringing something we don’t have and it has to be a really good fit,” Lindsey said of potential new additions. “We’ll certainly make every attempt to examine every piece of the organization, player personnel included, and try to move this group forward.”

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • Favors, who has a $16MM non-guaranteed salary for next season, expressed a desire to stick with the Jazz, as Sorensen relays: “I prefer to come back here, the grass is not always greener. I’m here with a good organization. It’s been a blessing, I’ve enjoyed my time here and hopefully it can continue.”
  • While Rubio also said he’d like to return to the Jazz, his comments weren’t quite as unequivocal as Favors’, Sorensen notes. “One thing I’m going to look for sure is going to be the best situation for me with the coach and the team,” Rubio said. “I want to be happy, I’m going to try to find the best situation for me to be me and be happy.”
  • We should expect Utah to target shooters and play-makers in free agency this summer, in an effort to take some pressure off leading scorer Donovan Mitchell, writes John Coon of The Associated Press. Speaking of Mitchell, he believes the Jazz can make a strong pitch to free agent targets due to their collection of “unselfish” players who just want to win (Twitter link via Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune).
  • Joe Ingles believes the Jazz aren’t far off from being an “unbelievable” team, writes Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News.
  • In an Insider-only article, ESPN’s Bobby Marks takes an in-depth look at Utah’s upcoming offseason from a cap perspective.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Northwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Northwest Division:

Isaiah Thomas, Nuggets, 30, PG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2018
The sad and swift decline in Thomas’ career hit a new low a couple of weeks ago when the veteran was informed by Nuggets coach Michael Malone he would not be in the rotation going forward. Thomas didn’t even make his season debut until mid-February due to his hip condition. He has only seen action in one game since March 8 — a scoreless seven-minute stint in Boston, where his career peaked two seasons ago when he averaged 28.9 PPG. Thomas will probably have to settle for another one year, “show me” contract this summer.

Tyus Jones, Timberwolves, 22, PG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $6.54MM deal in 2015
Jones has received steady playing time since late February and is now the starter by default with Jeff Teague and Derrick Rose out for the rest of the season. He isn’t much of a scoring threat but he rarely turns the ball over. He’s averaging less than one turnover per game in 25.8 MPG this month. Teague has a $19MM option on his contract for next season and is expected to exercise it, so Jones’ starting gig probably won’t last. The Timberwolves can make Jones a restricted free agent by extending a qualifying offer of $3.57MM and that seems likely, given his age and steady hand at the point.

Markieff Morris, Thunder, 29, SF/PF (Down) — Signed to a one-year, $573K deal in 2019
The above salary figure doesn’t reflect that Morris was making $8.6MM before he was traded by the Wizards to the Pelicans, who waived him. He seemed to be walking into a good situation with a playoff-bound team but hasn’t made much of an impact. He’s averaging 6.0 PPG and 3.5 RPG in 15.9 MPG in 17 appearances with Oklahoma City. He played just seven scoreless minutes against Indiana on Wednesday. Morris brings enough to the table to be a rotation piece but it’s increasing unlikely he’ll get a starter-level offer on the open market.

Enes Kanter, Trail Blazers, 26, C (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $653K deal in 2019
Jusuf Nurkic‘s gruesome leg injury changes the outlook for Kanter in the short- and long-term. He’ll suddenly be playing heavy minutes for Portland, which signed him as a backup after the Knicks reached a buyout agreement with him on his $18.6MM salary this season. A productive postseason by Kanter should enhance his prospects as an unrestricted free agent. He’s not going to make anyone’s All-Defense team but he’s a double-double machine when he plays half the game. While it seems Kanter has been around for awhile, he’s still only 26 and in the prime of his career.

Derrick Favors, Jazz, 27, PF (Up)– Signed to a two-year, $37.6MM deal in 2018
Favors’ $16.9MM contract for next season isn’t guaranteed unless he’s on the roster through July 6. That seemed unlikely from the time he signed the deal but it’s not a given the Jazz will let him go. That salary isn’t outrageous for a starter and the Jazz have plenty of cap room to absorb that salary. Plus, they’d need to have a solid plan to replace Favors, who has posted a 21.9 PER this season. Favors nearly got dealt to Memphis for Mike Conley and Utah could use his expiring contract in a blockbuster trade next season if it retains him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Post-Deadline Notes: Rockets, Spurs, Favors, Portis

The Rockets’ latest moves prior to the trade deadline were mainly designed to open up a roster spot and find another piece on the buyout market, GM Daryl Morey told the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen (Twitter link). The Rockets also wanted to “create flexibility now and down the road,” Morey said.

The Rockets were involved in a three-way deal with the Kings and Cavaliers in which they shipped out Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss and acquired Iman Shumpert, Nik Stauskas and Wade Baldwin. They soon traded Stauskas and Baldwin to the Pacers and dealt James Ennis to the Sixers without receiving any players in return.

We have more on potential moves from around the league:

  • The Spurs will be searching for a wing player via the buyout market, Jabari Young of The Athletic tweets. They have mainly relied on journeymen Marco BelinelliQuincy Pondexter and Dante Cunningham as backups to leading scorer DeMar DeRozan and Bryn Forbes.
  • Power forward Derrick Favors is glad he wasn’t traded by the Jazz, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets. Favors was reportedly part of the package Utah offered to Memphis in its failed attempt to acquire point guard Mike Conley. He is likely to be a free agent this summer since his $16.9MM salary for next season is not guaranteed unless he remains on the roster through July 6th. “I’m happy I’m still here,” he said. “I’m glad this is over, and now I can focus on basketball.”
  • Bulls players were sad to see power forward Bobby Portis go to the Wizards, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago reports. Portis was part of the package Chicago shipped to Washington for forward Otto Porter Jr. Though Portis had a much-publicized altercation with former teammate Nikola Mirotic early last season, he was regarded as an emotional leader by the players on the current roster. “Bobby’s pretty much the main glue of the team, a big-time voice,” shooting guard Zach LaVine said. “It (stinks). He’s one of my best friends on the team.”

O’Connor’s Latest: Gasol, Conley, OKC, Prince, More

As we relayed earlier today, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer hears that the Hornets‘ offer for Grizzlies center Marc Gasol is Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and a protected first-round pick. That would be an underwhelming return for Gasol, but there hasn’t been much league-wide interest in the 34-year-old, O’Connor writes.

The Kings and Pistons were among the teams potentially in the mix for Gasol, according to O’Connor, but Memphis didn’t have any interest in Detroit center Andre Drummond and Sacramento was unwilling to part with promising young wing Bogdan Bogdanovic, whom the Grizzlies wanted.

The Raptors reportedly explored a potential Gasol deal, initially attempting to come up with an individual trade for one Grizzlies veteran before turning it into a package for both Gasol and Mike Conley, O’Connor writes. However, those talks didn’t advance and league sources tell The Ringer that it’s unlikely Toronto ends up with Gasol or Conley.

Elsewhere on the Conley front, the Jazz continue to make a strong push, with an offer that includes Ricky Rubio, Derrick Favors, and a first-round pick, per O’Connor. The sense around the NBA is that the Grizzlies won’t settle for a modest return for Conley, which is something we heard in relation to the Pistons’ offer earlier today.

O’Connor’s latest piece for The Ringer features several more trade-related tidbits, so we’ll round them up here…

  • The Thunder are believed to be among the teams with interest in Cavaliers guard Alec Burks, league sources tell O’Connor. However, Burks wouldn’t fit into OKC’s $10.88MM trade exception. The Thunder, along with the Sixers and Trail Blazers, have expressed interest in Hawks wing Taurean Prince, O’Connor adds.
  • Following up on his report from last week about the Rockets and Grizzlies discussing a Brandon Knight trade, O’Connor suggests that Marquese Chriss and a first-round pick would also go to Memphis in that proposed deal. Houston would be targeting JaMychal Green and Garrett Temple in the swap, though it remains in the discussion stage for now.
  • The Kings have made calls about veteran forwards Harrison Barnes (Mavericks) and Otto Porter (Wizards) but have found no traction on a Porter deal, writes O’Connor.
  • While DeAndre Jordan looks like an obvious trade candidate, it wouldn’t be a major surprise if the Knicks keep him around as a potential recruiter for Kevin Durant, according to O’Connor, who notes that Durant and Jordan are good friends. Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News wrote about this subject on Tuesday.
  • League sources don’t expect the Celtics to do anything at the deadline with Terry Rozier, since he could serve as potential Kyrie Irving insurance or a sign-and-trade sweetener for Anthony Davis in the offseason, says O’Connor.
  • According to O’Connor, the Pacers remain open to moving one of their two veteran point guards, Cory Joseph or Darren Collison. Both players are on expiring contracts.