Mike Conley, a well-respected veteran point guard from the Utah Jazz, is currently on the trading block as team president Danny Ainge is seeking to reboot the entire team.
Conley averaged 13.7 points, 5.3 assists, and 3.0 rebounds per game while shooting 40.8% from 3-point range last season with the Jazz. He’s a 15-season veteran who turns 35 at the start of this season and who spent 12 seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies before being traded to the Jazz after the Griz Ja Morant.
Conley has two more years on his current contract. He’s set to earn $22.7 million this season and $23.4 million next season. That big hit for an aging point guard in his mid-30s is the reason why the Jazz are struggling to find a trade partner for Conley. During the first round of the playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks exploited Conley’s age and his inability to properly defend switches.
Jazz roster reboot
The Jazz have a rookie head coach with Will Hardy who will have a tough job ahead of him this upcoming season after the front office decided to begin a rebuild from scratch.
The Jazz won the Northwest division in back-to-back seasons with 49 wins this season, and 52 wins two seasons ago. However, former head coach Quin Snyder stepped down because he felt the team needed fresh blood as head coach.
At the time, numerous beat reporters speculated he didn’t want to handle the fallout of the deteriorating relationship between Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. The Jazz had a fractured locker room for most of last season after Gobert’s abrasive personality didn’t jibe with the rest of the team — especially Mitchell. However, it now looks more like Snyder wasn’t on board for a complete implosion of the team and subsequent reboot, which is why he retired prematurely.
Earlier this summer, the Jazz indicated they would shop Gobert in a trade to keep Mitchell happy. They want to retain Mitchell and rebuild a championship team. Ainge not only traded Gobert, but he pulled off a ridiculous move that will impact the future trade market for the next decade. General managers around the league were livid that new Minnesota Timberwolves GM Tim Connelly let Ainge rob him blind in the Gobert trade.
Sure, Gobert is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year who secures a double-double on a nightly basis, but he’s a ticking time bomb due to his personality. Ainge secured four first-round picks and five players, including the Timberwolves’ first-round pick from the 2022 NBA Draft.
Jazz fire sale
With the Gobert trade setting a new precedent, the Brooklyn Nets are seeking an insane package for Kevin Durant. At the same time, Ainge asked the New York Knicks to send the Jazz six first-round picks and two or three up-and-coming players to complete a trade for Donovan Mitchell.
Lost in the shuffle was that Ainge also convinced the Brooklyn Nets to trade them a first-round pick for Royce O’Neal.
Ainge is trying to trade every veteran on the Jazz, including the vets he acquired in the Gobert trade. That shortlist includes Patrick Beverly and Jared Vanderbilt.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat are linked with the Jazz in a trade for Beverly. In addition, the Jazz were mentioned in trade rumors with the Lakers for Russell Westbrook. The Lakers would love to ditch Westbrook and acquire Beverly, but that’s a long shot to happen.
The Lakers could swap Westbrook and his $47 million in salary for Conley and Beverly ($13.3 million), but the Jazz still need to make up another $11 million in salary to complete the trade. At least the Jazz would only be on the hook with Westbrook for one season instead of two with Conley.
Teams would love to add a veteran like Conley to their roster, but he makes too much money this season and next season.
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