In a surprising turn of events, the Memphis Grizzlies have decided to keep franchise point guard Mike Conley, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Grizzlies reportedly had offers on the table from multiple suitors but ultimately decided not to engage on a deal, though it is likely they pick up conversations around the 2019 NBA Draft.
In the process, they’ve marooned Conley on a team that’s otherwise pivoting to a rebuild. Memphis traded veterans Marc Gasol, Garrett Temple, JaMychal Green, and Shelvin Mack, but did not pull the trigger on a Conley deal.
The Grit ‘N Grind era of Memphis Grizzlies basketball ended when the franchise let culture-setters Zach Randolph and Tony Allen walk in free agency in 2017. The next big domino fell Gasol went to Toronto for Jonas Valanciunas, C.J. Miles, Delon Wright and a second-round pick.
But Conley was expected to be the final straw. He had a tough contract to move — two years after this season worth $67 million — and the Pistons, Pacers, and Jazz, among other possible teams, refused to meet the Grizzlies’ asking price. Conley is a player who could have drastically strengthened either one of those teams’ back courts. They eventually chose not to deal with Memphis.
One possible reason is that Conley can serve as a mentor to the team’s young players.
One factor in the Grizzlies not trading Mike Conley: They value him as a mentor for Jaren Jackson Jr., a 19-year-old being groomed as the future face of the franchise. Conley was not eager to leave Memphis.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) February 7, 2019
Still, this isn’t the end of Conley trade rumors
The conversations are only tabled until the offseason. There will be several teams incapable of improving via free agency that will inquire about a Conley trade when the season is over. The Grizzlies will be listening, especially to teams willing to offer draft assets and young players.
But for now, the Conley trade saga is over. He can go back to playing basketball for the Grizzlies team he’s been on his entire career. When the season is over, though, this entire circus will start over again.