Today Mike Conley was traded to the Utah Jazz for Kyle Korver, Grayson Allen, Jae Crowder and a 2019 and a 2020 first round pick. Conley is the arguably the greatest player in Grizzlies and irrefutably the greatest player not named Gasol. However, I liked him more than both versions of Big Spain… call it nationalist bias. Mike’s impact on the community in Memphis has never been and may never be outdone by another player or celebrity. He was always a leader and was never going to be outworked by the next guy. He is also arguably the best draft pick that Memphis has ever made, and I know that’s not a huge feat considering their track record. He leads the franchise in all time games played, steals, field goals made, assists, and points. There will never be another player like Captain Clutch 11 off the court, but his stats don’t lie either. Below are his stats from Basketball Reference and I’m just going to leave this here.
Why this is a win for Memphis:
Simply put, Memphis getting younger, deeper, and cheaper. Mike was the anchor of this organization for over a decade now, but his time has come to an end in Grind City, as the last member of the Core Four departs. Let me tell you why this was a win for the Grizzlies. He was owed 68 million over the next two years and being out from under that contract is HUGE for the franchise. Secondly, they got two first round draft picks out of the deal. Keep in mind this move also doubled the amount of overall draft picks the Grizzlies have this year (2). I truly could care less about 38 year old Kyle Korver being in Memphis and on his 8th team. He may provide some shooting off the bench and leadership, but that’s about it. The Grayson Allen add is interesting and could provide fruitful in the future. I really don’t like how he behaved while at Duke University, but people change and sometimes it’s for the better. He will instantly add depth and shooting to the wing, which has been the weakest part of the Memphis roster since Conley was drafted in 2007. Jae Crowder was the crown jewel of this transaction in my humble opinion. He’s a career 10 and 4 guy, but is a defensive specialist and can play the 3 or 4 and also adds depth to the wing. Him having the ability to play power forward will allow Memphis to play small ball and run Jaren Jackson at center.
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What the team could look like for opening day:
I’m hoping the team holds on to most of the pieces they traded for last season, most of all Jonas Valanciunas. I’ve spoken time and time again about how Val will allow Jaren to grow as a power forward and the team to not rush his transition to a center. Val is the bridge from the Grit and Grind era to the new-look Grizz. I also really hope they retain Avery Bradley. He showed a lot in his short stint in a Memphis uniform and is a proven veteran guard that loves to play defense. I’m not sold on Dillon Brooks being a NBA starter and Bradley’s presence fills a huge void. The combination of Bradley/Crowder/Jackson on the wing will suffocate opposing offenses. If Valanciunas is down low too, this team could immediately be a problem for a stacked western conference. If Morant is as good as the pundits believe, my expectations for this team moving forward are uncomfortably high. I’m okay with the team parting ways with Noah, Miles, Dorsey, Carter, Washburn, Zeller, and especially Chandler freaking Parsons – though absolutely nobody will take on all of the last year of that god-awful contract. I’d like to see the Grizzlies retain all other current/expiring members of their roster(see below from Basketball Reference).
Players that are still available in free agency:
It’s hard to attract big names to small markets. Free agency is a totally different game in Memphis than NYC like the Knicks, but somehow Memphis has done it better since their move to the city in 2001. However, the likelihood of attracting max-contract talent is slim to none in Milwaukee, Detroit, OKC, Indy, Dallas, Cleveland, Orlando, Minneapolis, Charlotte, and Sacramento as well. There are some names mentioned in a tweet today by Fastbreak Breakfast and I’d like to run through them.
Let’s break this tweet down player by player and why I like/dislike them for the Grizzlies:
Danilo Gallinari – This is actually one of two I like. He could provide the much-needed boost in offense this lineup needs.
Hassan Whiteside – He’s a good player but wants too much and will get it from some sucker. I hope it’s not the Grizzlies. Val is a better player to pair with Jaren in my opinion.
Kent Bazemore – This is my favorite fit. Younger, athletic, slasher to push the pace with Ja and company. I don’t think he’ll ask too much and could fit in well with the existing cast.
Evan Turner – Just too late in his career to pay for in free agency. I’ve never been overly impressed by the dude, so I’m not sold on him.
Solomon Hill – Good player, but too similar to Crowder offensively. We need someone to push the pace and shoot the J!
Courtney Lee – Had him once, don’t care to pay for him again. Once again, past his prime.
Andre Roberson – Again, a good player but offensively limited.
Outside of this tweet there haven’t been really many murmurs of signing for the Grizzlies, but this free agency period has started out hot and will be one of the biggest in recent memory. I think Harrison Barnes and Andrew Wiggins are good players but would ask for too much. I’d lean towards Barnes because Memphis needs a dead-eye shooter like Parsons was supposed to be and Wiggins hasn’t developed the jumper he was supposed to. Outside of those two cats I can’t think of any other non-max deal talent gets me there, so my plea is hold onto what you have here for the most part. I don’t think the Grit-n-Grind model is broken here, but they need to spruce it up. I think Morant and Jackson are just the guys to do it. They’re the GNG 2.0 version of Mike and Marc and I think the Bluff City is ready for some playoff basketball again in the near future.
Players to hope for at 23:
I really hope they don’t get cute with the second pick and draft their future aka Temetrius Jamel Morant. The Conley trade has blessed the organization with a second first rounder at 23. There are a few players I’d love to see the Grizzlies take at that point. I’m going to exclude the Vols in the draft for my immediate bias. I’d love to see them take Admiral, Grant, or Bone but that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Bol Bol didn’t start playing basketball until he was in high school. He’s 7’2” with a 7’8” wingspan and there’s a whole lot to love about that. However, he is a project of sorts and I doubt he’ll fall that far. Carsen Edwards from Purdue would be a good PG to draft for depth after Conley’s departure. He’s as talented as you could ask for on offense with great athleticism and shooting. PJ Washington out of UK would be an absolute steal at 23, speaking of players that gave the Vols trouble this past season. He’s 6’8” with a 7’3” wingspan and really doesn’t have many holes in his game. His teammate Keldon Johnson wouldn’t be too bad either. Darius Bazley is a high school player that has shown up on several first and second round mock drafts and would be an intriguing add for this already youthful team. He would be a project, but that’s what they said about Jaren Jackson a year ago and now people are comparing him to Kevin Garnett and Al Horford. Ty Jerome is who CBS has the Grizzlies taking at 23 and I’m okay with that. He’s a career 40% shooter from three and arguably the best pick-and-roll passer in the draft. Not to mention he showed the clutch gene often in Virginia’s NCAA tournament run this past year. With his length and basketball IQ, he should have a long NBA career. I hope the Grizzlies make the right call and this new “nerdy” regime may be the perfect for propelling Memphis towards success and relevance. Either way you slice it, the city of Memphis and their beloved Grizzlies are coming out on top after the 2019 NBA draft.
Keep Grindin’ Grizz Fans!
ARTICLE BY KURT MCKIBBEN