The Memphis Grizzlies have been led by point guard Mike Conley and center Marc Gasol since the 2007-08 season. That year marked arguably the most memorable draft in team history, as Conley was the No. 4 overall pick while Gasol was selected at No. 48. The duo has combined to play 1,526 games in a Grizzlies uniform, but there may be a big change coming on the horizon.
As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday, the 12-year stretch with the duo centerpieces of the franchise could soon come to an end. The Grizzlies front office will listen to offers for the two players ahead of the trade deadline.
“Memphis ownership and management have decided that they’ve reached an organizational crossroads and are preparing to weigh deal scenarios on one or both of their cornerstone veterans between now and the Feb. 7 trade deadline — and perhaps into the offseason, league sources said.”
Wojnarowski did state that the Grizzlies could opt to keep one or both of the two players if the offers aren’t up to par.
Gasol, 33, has averaged 15.2 points and 7.7 rebounds over the span of his career. After posting marks of 19.5 and 17.2 points per game in the past two seasons, his scoring has dropped to 15.3 points per this year.
On the other side, Conley is currently 31 years old and is averaging over five more points per game (19.8) than his career number (14.6), along with 6.1 assists per game. He has struggled with his shot a bit, making just 42.2 percent of his field goal attempts this year.
Potential Mike Conley Trade Packages
We’re going to take a look at a few potential trade packages for Conley, who should draw a decent amount of interest. One big kicker with Conley is his contract, as Spotrac shows that he’s due more than $32.5 million next season and has an early termination option for the 2020-21 season. Of that final year of his contract, north of $22.4 million is guaranteed, and if he plays 55 games this season or next, then all $34.5 million-plus becomes guaranteed.
There’s a lot to take in with Conley’s current contract, but let’s evaluate a few potential suitors and how packages could look. To note, all possible trades were created with ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine.
Indiana Pacers: Draft Pick-Heavy Offer
*Note: Two first-round picks (with some protections) also included.
With one year left on his deal, I created this based on the assumption that the Indiana Pacers would be willing to part ways with Thaddeus Young. The emergence of Domantas Sabonis has been impressive this year and the Pacers would need to tack big contracts on to make this work.
The idea of Conley leading the way in Indiana with Cory Joseph backing him up is appealing. Plus, a backcourt of Conley and Victor Oladipo would be a lot of fun to watch. This trade gives the Grizzlies expiring contracts, so they’ll have cap space in free agency and also brings in draft picks.
Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr. & DeAndre Jordan Trade
This one may be teetering on the fringe of too crazy, but I’d be interested to find out how the Dallas Mavericks feel about DeAndre Jordan in comparison to Gasol. If the Grizzlies move both Conley and Gasol it frees up a massive amount of cap space in this deal. Having the ability to still compete with this group following the deal while also being able to push for free agents is interesting.
Even going one step further, I love the idea of the Grizzlies adding Dennis Smith Jr. as their next young point guard. I think he has a tremendous amount of upside and untapped potential and won’t break the bank for Memphis.
Orlando Magic: Nikola Vucevic on the Move
If the Orlando Magic are still interested in trading Nikola Vucevic, then this deal makes sense under the assumption that the Grizzlies move Gasol elsewhere. There’s a lot of cap for Conley that has to be made up for, but the deal immediately fills a need for the Magic and gives them a great option at point guard.
Memphis would add three players capable of contributing and also picks up some needed depth at point guard with Jerian Grant.