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SportNBA trade rumors: Jazz still chasing Grizzlies' Mike Conley

23:45  15 may  2019
23:45  15 may  2019 Source:   sportingnews.com

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NBA trade rumors: Jazz still chasing Grizzlies' Mike Conley © Provided by Perform Media Channels Limited

The Pelicans won the 2019 NBA Draft lottery on Tuesday, giving New Orleans the opportunity to select Zion Williamson and push the franchise in a positive direction following a nightmare season derailed by Anthony Davis' trade request. The Pels undoubtedly came out the biggest winners on lottery night, but the Grizzlies also left the drawing happy about their draft status.

Memphis landed at No. 2 overall behind New Orleans despite having only a 6.3 percent chance to get the second pick heading into the lottery. With Williamson the obvious choice to kick off the 2019 NBA Draft, the Grizzlies will likely take either Murray State's Ja Morant or Duke's RJ Barrett (assuming they don't trade down). Acquiring Morant, a talented point guard widely considered the second-best prospect in this class, would open the door for Memphis to trade Mike Conley.

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And if Conley finds himself on the trade block, the Jazz will be calling the Grizzlies. From The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor:

"Morant, especially, seems like an intriguing fit: He would make for a tremendous long-term pick-and-roll partner with [Jaren] Jackson and could learn the tricks of the trade behind veteran point guard Mike Conley Jr. (That is, unless Memphis trades Conley — multiple league sources said this week that the Jazz are expected to make another push for him after failing to land him prior to the deadline.)"

This doesn't come as a surprise. Utah targeted Conley at the Februrary trade deadline and had "exploratory discussions" with Memphis about a Conley-for-Ricky Rubio swap. The Grizzlies reportedly wanted multiple first-round picks for Conley, but that kind of trade package never materialized. The Grizzlies traded Marc Gasol to the Raptors at the deadline but ultimately decided to keep Conley for the rest of the season.

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Conley could immediately slide into the Jazz's starting lineup and take some of the offensive burden off Donovan Mitchell's shoulders. The former Louisville star led Utah in points (23.8) and field-goal attempts (19.9) per game this past season by a significant margin, and he finished seventh in the league in usage percentage (31.6).

Utah would be taking on a large financial commitment with Conley, who has two years and $67 million left on his current deal ($32.5 million for 2019-20, $34.5 million for 2020-21), but he is still a productive player. At 31, Conley averaged a career-high 21.1 points to go with 6.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game in 2018-19. The Grizzlies were an average team in terms of net rating with Conley on the floor (plus-0.6), and they dropped to a bottom-five level with him on the bench (minus-6.4).

In the competitive Western Conference, a slight upgrade could be the difference between a first-round exit and a trip to the conference finals. The Jazz are hoping Conley can be that upgrade at point guard to make Utah a legitimate contender.

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