Mike Conley Trade Rumors: Grizzlies Expected to Draft Ja Morant, Deal Veteran

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 22, 2019

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 30: Mike Conley #11 of the Memphis Grizzlies drives to the basket against the Phoenix Suns on March 30, 2019 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
Barry Gossage/Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies hit the lottery jackpot by landing the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NBA draft, and all signs point to Murray State point guard Ja Morant. 

Per Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Grizz "are widely expected to use the No. 2 pick on Murray State’s Ja Morant and trade the ever-reliable Mike Conley."

On May 16, Jonathan Givony of ESPN reported the Grizzlies "told interested parties" at the NBA Scouting Combine in Chicago they intend to take Morant if Duke forward Zion Williamson goes No. 1 to the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Racers floor general who averaged 24.5 points and 10.0 assists led his team to a 28-5 record and a second-round appearance in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Conley, 31, averaged a career-high 21.1 points last season and has two years and $67 million remaining on his contract, assuming he picks up a $34.5 million early termination option for 2020-21.

He's been one of the faces of the franchise for the past decade and co-led the team to seven straight postseason appearances. Notably, the eighth-seeded Grizzlies upset the No. 1 San Antonio Spurs in the 2011 playoffs before making the 2013 Western Conference Finals two years later. Memphis also won 50 or more games every season from 2012-13 through 2014-15.

Conley ran point during that entire stretch after he entered the league in 2007. He's one of the league's most underrated players and, if a trade occurs, should find further success wherever he goes.

As for the Grizzlies' future, Stein referenced the Grizzlies' desire to move forward with their No. 2 pick—forward Jaren Jackson Jr., who Memphis took fourth overall in 2018. The 6'11" 19-year-old showcased his potential with 13.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 26.1 minutes per game. He also knocked down 35.9 percent of his threes as a rookie.

A duo of Jackson and Morant is an excellent start, although the team still needs a head coach after it fired J.B. Bickerstaff. Per Stein, ex-Phoenix Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov, Zalgiris head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius and a quartet of assistants (Jarron Collins of the Golden State Warriors, Alex Jensen of the Utah Jazz, Nate Tibbets of the Portland Trail Blazers and Adrian Griffin of the Toronto Raptors) are all candidates.

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