The Phoenix Suns want veteran help at the point guard position, but they should not allow a large contract to steer them away from the Memphis Grizzlies’ Mike Conley.
The 2019 NBA Draft is now two weeks away, so as expected, NBA trade rumors are ramping up. The latest team to emerge on the trade front is none other than the Phoenix Suns, who — according to ESPN — have expressed a desire to land a “veteran point guard” in exchange for their first-round pick. Could the Memphis Grizzlies be the ones to help them out?
Phoenix needs a lot of help, though they do have a young core — namely Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton — that is still in the developmental stages of their careers. As the key faces of the franchise’s future are set in stone, they now are in need of dependable veteran help. Beyond the 2018-19 season, a 19-win record is purely unacceptable. It is time to see results, especially with Booker set to enter his fifth professional season.
As the Phoenix Suns are looking for a veteran point guard, the Memphis Grizzlies can offer just that to their Western Conference foe. Aside from all the Anthony Davis talk within NBA trade rumors, point guard Mike Conley is next in line as the name most commonly placed into those said NBA trade rumors.
This season, the Suns were ranked 22nd of 30 teams in the scoring department, as well as 28th in team defense. If you could not tell from Phoenix’s 19-63 record, the Suns need a lot of help on both ends of the floor. Thankfully for the Memphis Grizzlies’ hopes of high return in a potential Conley deal, “Captain Clutch” is about as good of a two-way floor general as you will find in today’s NBA.
In a successful comeback attempt for the 2018-19 season, Mike Conley produced one of his best — if not the best — stat lines of his 12-season NBA career. He averaged 21.1 points on 43.8% overall shooting accuracy (36.4% from beyond the arc) to go with 3.4 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 1.3 steals in 33.5 minutes per game. Plus, he was Mr. Fourth Quarter for the Grizzlies, something which has boosted his value as well as the Grizzlies’ asking price.
Meanwhile, John Gambadoro of 98.7 Arizona Sports Radio is certain the Phoenix Suns will have zero interest in acquiring Mike Conley and his massive contract. Instead, he believes Phoenix will find their next starting point guard via NBA Free-Agency, which tips off on June 30th.
Of the four names Gambadoro links to the Suns, something major sticks out like a sore thumb. The names are mediocre, especially if a team is going to depend on one of those guys to lift the franchise a tier or two. The point is, Phoenix must not be serious about winning if this is their desired crop of point guards to choose from.
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Mike Conley received multiple All-NBA votes this season. Even in his 30s, he is one of the best playmakers in the league. When healthy — which he is — he can score with the best opposing point guards the NBA has to offer. Plus, he is a mentor. He could be that veteran presence to enable some of Phoenix’s young guys to blossom.
Rightfully so, Mike Conley’s contract scares some teams away, even if they do see the positives he brings to the table at the point position. The Memphis Grizzlies have locked themselves into paying “Captain Clutch” $32.5 million next season and $34.5 million in the 2020-21 season.
On the Phoenix Suns’ financial front, they ranked 26th in the NBA in payroll, which also provides support for their lackluster season record. For next season, they have $80 million tied up, which ranks 20th ahead of NBA Free-Agency. This is favorable for a Mike Conley addition considering they have flexibility to add to their payroll.
For instance, if the Memphis Grizzlies were able to swing a deal centered around Mike Conley with the Phoenix Suns, this is how the framework would look like:
It is important to note that Phoenix’s Tyler Johnson has a player option on his contract worth $19.2 million. It should be expected for him to opt in, and that is really the make-or-break component behind Conley getting shipped to the Suns. Due to the salary match, there is no other feasible way for Phoenix to land Mike without tearing their young core apart.
In this trade scenario, the Memphis Grizzlies would land Tyler Johnson and T.J. Warren. They are not the biggest names, but they are definitely serviceable and can still boost the team toward the NBA Playoffs. Both are relatively young, too, so they may carve lengthy tenures in Memphis if it is a successful transition for them.
The real treasure for Memphis is the No. 6 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. This would mean that they select at No. 2 in addition to the No. 6. Even with this incoming rookie crop expected to be rather raw and lacking depth, there is plenty of NBA All-Star potential within the lottery portion of the Draft. Memphis could win big — even more so than when they landed the No. 2 pick on May 14th.
A lot of people will think the deal is not worth it for the Phoenix Suns. However, they are stuck in the mud and truly need a sure-fire starting-quality point guard that can win games for them as well as further develop their youngsters. Mike Conley is absolutely that guy, and if they are serious enough about their desires to actually offer the No. 6 pick, then they are clearly willing to pay the price.
If Phoenix would be in favor of doing this deal, it could actually come down to the Grizzlies determining which is the sweetest offer on their table. Conley has generated a lot of trade interest since February’s NBA Trade Deadline. Things are intensifying through NBA trade rumors, and this will continue to be the trend leading up to June 20th’s Draft Night. The Suns could potentially bite the dust on this mission if Memphis determines they have another better offer in their own queue.