The Utah Jazz made their big move of the 2019 offseason, trading Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, Grayson Allen and two first round picks, including one in 2019, to the Memphis Grizzlies to bring in Mike Conley.
Personally, I feel great about this trade, but let’s take a spin around the web to see how some of the national media feels the Jazz did in this exchange with some trade grades. I’ve included some snippets of the commentary accompanying the grades, and I’ve also included links to the full analysis.
CBS Sports: A
CBSSports.com’s Jack Maloney writes:
While there’s still plenty of change to come this summer, the West looks wide open, and the Jazz were in as good of a position as anyone to jump into contention with one big move, and that’s exactly what they’ve done by dealing for Conley.
The veteran point guard will slide right into the team’s starting lineup, where he’s not only an upgrade over Ricky Rubio, but a better fit. A strong defender, he’ll help maintain, and possibly even boost one of the best units on that side of the ball, while also improving their offense in a big way. So much of the Jazz’s struggles in the playoffs have revolved around not being able to find enough scoring, and Conley will be a big help in rectifying that problem.
Plus, the best part of the deal for the Jazz is they didn’t have to give up much to get him. Allen doesn’t appear to be any sort of high-end prospect, Korver is nearing the end of his career and Crowder is a replaceable wing. Plus, if things work out the way they hope, those draft picks will be late in the first round.
Jeremy Woo of SI.com’s take on the trade:
This was the best possible off-season move on the board for the Jazz, who, per a source with knowledge of the situation, went down to the wire in talks with the Grizzlies at the February trade deadline.
Conley’s deal is pricy, but not a massive long-term issue for the Jazz—in a worst-case scenario, he has an early termination option for 2020-21 with a partial guarantee. He’s owed about $66.5 million in total for the next couple seasons. At this stage of the contract, that figure is really not that bad. Utah is going to take Conley into cap room, limiting some of their spending power, but was able to do this deal without making a massive on-court sacrifice elsewhere.
Including the No. 23 pick is a relatively small price to pay for the Jazz. According to the Daily Memphian’s Chris Herrington, the protections on the future first-rounder are engineered so that the Grizzlies would receive it in 2020 or 2021 only if it fell between picks 8-14. Basically, if the Jazz make the playoffs the next two seasons, the pick will probably convey in 2022—a draft that could include two classes of prospects (and a lot of extra talent) if the NBA’s age limit goes back to 18, as many expect. That pick could be the most valuable part of the deal, but the Jazz will hope their own sustained competitiveness helps limit its value.
Overall, Utah should be commended for going all in, and doing so in reasonable fashion—if they vault to the top of the West for the next couple seasons, Conley’s cost could be well worth it. The Jazz aren’t generally a free-agent destination, and swinging a deal with this type of potential impact was an ideal means of improvement going into the summer.
Hoops Habit: A-
Gerald Bourguet from HoopsHabit.com had this to say:
After watching his team smash its head on its playoff ceiling for the third straight season, Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey knew this team needed a third star to pair with Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, preferably at the point guard spot. Mike Conley checks both boxes, and comes at the perfect time with the Warriors vulnerable and the league feeling wide open for the first time in a decade.
Bypassing free agency is hardly an issue given the two-way talent Utah is adding to its ranks. The Jazz were already one of the NBA’s stingiest defenses last year, ranking second in defensive rating, and while Conley has lost a step on that end compared to his prime, he’ll still be a stalwart on a team with more serious playoff aspirations.
He’ll also be a boon on the offensive end, where the Jazz needed the most help last season as the NBA’s 14th-ranked offense. Last season, Conley averaged a career-high 21.1 points, 6.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. He shot a competent 36.4 percent from 3-point range on 6.1 attempts per game and should take a ton of pressure off Mitchell in the backcourt … as long as he can remain healthy.
The Jazz will now need to round out their bench, and could regret the way the protections are structured for that 2020 first round pick if it winds up conveying in the highly anticipated 2022 “double draft.” But with the West wide open, Utah’s window burst open. This on-the-rise team was wise to jump through it by adding Mike Conley to a playoff-ready roster.
Sporting News: A-
Jordan Greer from SportingNews.com:
Conley can play with the ball in his his hands or off the ball (39.8 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers last season) whenever Donovan Mitchell operates as the primary initiator. Conley can create offense in a variety of ways (21.1 points, 6.4 assists per game), something this Jazz team desperately needed.
Mitchell and Conley must learn each other’s tendencies and what works best. There could be growing pains, of course. That’s something two good locker room guys should be able to iron out in time.
On the defensive end, Conley will fit right in with Utah’s unit. He finished in the top 10 among point guards in ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus-Minus, and he will only improve one of the best defenses in the league. Conley, Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert - good luck trying to score against that starting five.
This trade won’t create the same level of headlines as Anthony Davis to the Lakers, but it definitely will make a significant impact on the Western Conference playoff race. Don’t be shocked if the Jazz are one of the last teams standing next year.
Basically, the general consensus seems to be that this move puts the Jazz on the brink of true title contention. We’ll see what Justin Zanik and Dennis Lindsey have in store for the rest of the offseason, but with a few more tweaks in the right places, Utah could be set to truly contend for a title for the first time since the prime of Deron Williams. These are exciting times in Jazz land.