Mike Conley

Mike Conley Talks Trade To Utah, Jazz’s Goals, More

The trade that sent Mike Conley from Memphis to Utah this offseason was one of the first major deals completed, and got buried under a flurry of free agency news, as All-NBA players like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Paul George, and Russell Westbrook changed teams.

Still, the Jazz‘s acquisition of Conley could ultimately end up being one of the summer’s most impactful moves. Utah has finished in the top five of the Western Conference in consecutive seasons and now has a third standout player to complement defensive anchor Rudy Gobert and up-and-coming star Donovan Mitchell.

Speaking to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, Conley said that he’s excited to play alongside Mitchell in Utah’s backcourt, calling the 22-year-old a “special player” and suggesting that the two guards will help each other alleviate pressure from opposing defenses.

Conley also spoke about several other topics during his conversation with Kennedy, which is worth checking out in full. Here are some of the highlights from the Q&A:

On getting used to no longer being a member of the Grizzlies:

“It’s still an adjustment. Even just hearing people call my name out and saying ‘Mike Conley of the Utah Jazz,’ it doesn’t even equate yet (laughs). I’m still trying to get used to that and waiting for it to become normal. It’s a new beginning, a new journey, a new challenge and I love that. You don’t get blessed with opportunities like this very often. I feel like I’m in a blessed situation to be part of this organization and hopefully do something special while I’m there.”

On his first impressions of Utah:

“The people, the fans, have just been so welcoming. My family and I really enjoyed ourselves in the two or three weeks that we’ve been able to spend there. Everyone is just so excited! The Jazz organization is top-notch in every way. Coach Quin [Snyder] is one of the best out there and we have a really good roster. We have all of those in one bottle, so we have a lot going on and it’s going to be exciting.”

On the Jazz’s goals for 2019/20:

“After talking to Coach Quin, we all realize what the ultimate goal is – and it’s everyone’s ultimate goal – and that’s winning a championship. We know that. Are we going to achieve the daily goals to become a champion? … That’s what it boils down to. I think we’re at the stage where we’re just working and trying to stay humble and stay focused and respect the game. At the end of the day, if we [achieve our daily goals], we have a good enough team, a good enough organization and good enough coaches to give ourselves a chance.”

On whether he’d be interested in coaching after his playing career is over:

“Yeah, I think coaching is kind of the natural progression for me. I think that’s something that I’d definitely enjoy, whether it’s coaching kids at any level or [coaching] all the way up to the NBA. It’s such a passion of mine, this game, and it’s something that I know so much about. And it’s one of those games that you can never figure all the way out, and I think that’s one of the things that I love about it. Hopefully I can continue to give back as much as possible.”

Harris Withdraws From Team USA This Summer

Add Tobias Harris‘ name to the growing list of USA Basketball players pulling out of consideration for this year’s FIBA World Cup. Harris, who re-signed with the Sixers for five years and $180MM this summer, has decided to focus on the upcoming NBA season, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets.

Anthony Davis, James Harden, Bradley Beal, CJ McCollum and Eric Gordon have also withdrawn from Team USA participation this summer, starting with training camp in Las Vegas early next month. Two other players, Damian Lillard and Kevin Love, are also undecided and will announce their decisions in the next few days, Joe Vardon of The Athletic reports.

Team USA will bring 12 players to the FIBA tournament. Among the players under consideration to replace the stars who have withdrawn, according to Vardon, include Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, D’Angelo Russell, Mike ConleyJosh Richardson, Thaddeus Young and Julius Randle. Select Team members could also be considered for the final 12-man roster, including Trae Young, Vardon adds. Top pick Zion Williamson has withdrawn from the Select Team this summer.

The original list of 20 invitees to the USA Basketball camp can be found here.

Southwest Notes: Chandler, Conley, Mavericks, Erman, Turner

Sources tell Tim MacMahon of ESPN that veteran big man Tyson Chandler is a likely target for the Rockets in their search for a center to backup starter Clint Capela.

Chandler, who turns 37 later this year, had an effective 2018/19 season with the Lakers as a defender, rebounder, and veteran mentor. Per MacMahon, he is known as a good locker room guy and has a strong relationship with Rockets’ point guard Chris Paul from their days as teammates with the New Orleans Hornets.

There’s more from the Southwest Division this afternoon:

  • The Grizzlies will retire No. 11 in honor of longtime franchise point guard Mike Conley, per an official release from team owner Robert J. Pera.
  • After missing out on Danny Green, owner Mark Cuban says that the Mavericks 2019 free agency is probably done except for an opportunistic situation like a potential offer sheet to restricted free agent Delon Wright, reports Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.
    • The Mavericks have since agreed to acquire Wright via S&T.
  • Should they change their mind about free agency, the Mavericks no longer need to worry about the cap hold for Petteri Koponen after the league office permitted Dallas to remove the hold amount for the 2019/20 season (per RealGM transactions log).
  • According to Scott Kushner of The Advocate, associate head coach Darren Erman is leaving the Pelicans coaching staff. Per Kushner, Erman remains a candidate for other NBA coaching jobs.
  • Elston Turner has officially been hired as the Rockets new lead assistant coach under Mike D’Antoni, per a press release from the team. Turner previously worked for the Rockets under Rick Adelman and has spent the last three seasons in Sacramento working for the Kings under former head coach Dave Joerger.

Grizzlies Trade Mike Conley To Jazz

JULY 6: The trade sending Conley to the Jazz is now official, per the NBA’s transactions log. Darius Bazley, who was selected with the No. 23 overall pick last month, will be re-routed from Utah to Oklahoma City in a subsequent deal, while Korver will be sent to Phoenix.

JUNE 19: 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 necessarily 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.

Western Notes: Thompson, Spurs, Allen

Klay Thompson would be open to a meeting with the Clippers should the Warriors not present him with a max salary offer at the start of free agency, Adrian Wojnarowski said on the network’s free agency special. Thompson is expected to re-sign in Golden State.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • San Antonio could be a fit for Trevor Ariza, Jabari Young of The Athletic writes. Ariza earned $15MM last season on a one-year deal and the Spurs had interest in him last summer, Young hears. Ariza is a candidate for the mid-level exception.
  • The Spurs have kept a close eye on Amir Johnson since he played in Toronto, Young adds in the same piece. Young speculates that the 32-year-old big man could be a fit in San Antonio, citing his close relationship with DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay.
  • Grayson Allen, who was traded to the Grizzlies in the Mike Conley deal, aims to improve his defense during Summer League, as he tells David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “When I tell you I’m going to work on defense this summer, I don’t think many people picture guys in summer workouts doing defensive slides,” Allen said. “…But for me it’s going to be continuing to work on that footwork on the defensive end, getting my body in great shape, great conditioning going into summer league and the season.”

Hassan Whiteside Opts In For 2019/20

JUNE 21, 11:49am: Whiteside has officially exercised his 2019/20 player option, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

JUNE 21, 12:04am: Heat president Pat Riley confirms that Whiteside will opt in, adding that the center hasn’t requested a trade and he expects Whiteside to be on the team, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

JUNE 18, 4:21pm: There’s a growing belief that if and when Whiteside opts in, he may do so while asking for a trade, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Given his $27MM+ salary, it won’t be easy for the Heat to make a deal.

JUNE 18, 11:24am: Barring an unforeseen development in the coming days, Heat center Hassan Whiteside intends to opt into the final season of his contract, exercising his 2019/20 player option, a league source tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Picking up that option will make Whiteside the Heat’s highest-paid player for next season, locking in a salary of $27,093,018, per Basketball Insiders. The veteran big man will subsequently be on track to reach unrestricted free agency during the summer of 2020.

Whiteside, who turned 30 years old last Thursday, averaged 12.3 PPG and 11.3 RPG with 1.9 BPG in 72 games (53 starts) for the Heat last season. While his numbers were solid, Whiteside’s 23.3 minutes per game represented his lowest mark since he arrived in Miami in 2014.

Whiteside hasn’t been thrilled about his reduced role and inconsistent minutes over the last two seasons. Still, despite expressing a little dissatisfaction with his playing time, he was always considered a virtual lock to exercise his player option to stick with the Heat — he’d have no chance of matching his $27MM salary for ’19/20 on the open market.

With option salaries for both Whiteside and Goran Dragic on their books for next season, the Heat’s guaranteed salary commitments will increase to nearly $130MM for just eight players, plus a $3.64MM cap hold for their first-round pick. The team figures to thoroughly explore ways to cut costs during the offseason to avoid ending up in tax territory with a roster that missed the playoffs this past season.

As our player option decision tracker shows, 10 players have already opted in for the 2019/20 season, with Whiteside and Dwight Powell (Mavericks) both planning to do so as well.

Here are a few more brief Heat notes:

  • According to Jackson, the Heat and Grizzlies discussed a possible Mike Conley trade, but didn’t see eye to eye on compensation and those talks went nowhere.
  • Jimmy Butler has told confidants that he’d be happy to meet with the Heat in free agency if the team wants to make a pitch, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Miami doesn’t project to have any cap room available this offseason though, so the idea of Butler joining the team is an extreme long shot.
  • University of Miami prospect Dewan Hernandez cancelled a workout with the Heat due to scheduling issues and an overcrowded workout calendar, writes Jackson.

Williamson, Morant, Barrett Will Go 1-2-3

There won’t be any suspense regarding the first few picks on the draft this evening, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Duke freshman sensation Zion Williamson, who emerged early in the college season as the top talent in this year’s draft will be selected No. 1 overall by the Pelicans.

The Grizzlies will select Murray State point guard Ja Morant with the No. 2 pick. Memphis’ interest in Morant became public shortly after the draft lottery. They opened up the starting point guard spot by agreeing to trade their all-time leading scorer, Mike Conley, to the Jazz.

The Knicks have settled on R.J. Barrett, according to Charania. The Duke swingman was regarded as the likely No. 1 pick before his teammate seized that distinction.

With the Pelicans agreeing to deal the No. 4 pick to the Hawks today, the first four selections seem set in stone. Atlanta reportedly moved up to snag Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter. Duke forward Cam Reddish might be in play for the No. 4 pick but the Hawks are leaning toward Hunter, Charania reports in a separate tweet.

Things will get a little cloudier once the Cavaliers, who hold the No. 5 pick, go on the clock.

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.”

Stein’s Latest: Durant, Irving, Leonard, Conley

Kevin Durant has long been rumored to end up on the Knicks this summer. Even some within the Warriors’ organization believed that KD would head to the Big Apple, though Marc Stein of the New York Times hears that Golden State’s brass is now cautiously optimistic about convincing Durant to stay.

Durant’s rehab with the Warriors would come with more stability from a logistical standpoint. He would venture on his comeback journey with a staff he’s familiar with rather than entering a new environment in New York or Brooklyn.

The Knicks still desire to sign both Durant and Kyrie Irving, and they have the cap space to pursue both. Stein passes along more on the upcoming offseason in his latest piece:

  • The Nets believe that Irving is leaning toward signing with them. Stein hears that Spencer Dinwiddie has been heavily involved in the recruiting of Kyrie.
  • Most within the league believe the Clippers remain the favorites to sign Kawhi Leonard, Stein writes. The Raptors are not out of the running, as the team up north has a chance to convince Leonard to sign a short-term deal, presumably a two-year contract with a player option on the second year.
  • Many rival teams expect the Grizzlies to trade Mike Conley soon, with the Jazz being the frontrunner. One scenario Stein hears is Utah sending a package headlined by the No. 23 overall pick and a future pick to Memphis in exchange for the point guard.

Latest From Charania: Davis, Beal, Irving, Conley, Suns

The Knicks discussed a trade package for Anthony Davis that included Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith, Thursday’s No. 3 overall pick and other draft compensation, but they never fully offered forward Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. The Pelicans weren’t particularly high on either Knox or Robinson anyway but the Knicks were reluctant to jeopardize their future flexibility because they weren’t convinced Davis would re-sign with them.

Contrary to other reports, the Celtics were open to discussing Jayson Tatum and the future first-rounder owed by the Grizzlies in a trade package for Davis but didn’t want to part with both of those assets, Charania continues. Boston’s unwillingness to give up multiple major assets tipped the scale in the Lakers’ favor. The Nets also made a bid, Charania adds, but the Pelicans weren’t enamored with their available assets, especially since the Nets couldn’t include restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell.

Here are more highlights from Charania:

  • The Rockets were willing to get involved in three-team scenarios in Davis trade talks with Clint Capela being dangled.
  • The Pelicans are monitoring the Wizards’ interest in trading All-Star guard Bradley Beal.
  • The Celtics and impending free agent Kyrie Irving will meet soon, possibly before the draft, to discuss his future with the organization.
  • The Grizzlies have ramped up trade talks involving point guard Mike Conley. The Jazz are the leading contenders for Conley’s services.
  • The Suns have discussed moving the No. 6 pick, as well as forwards T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson, in separate trade packages.