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Mike Conley trade puts Utah in Finals contention

In trading for Mike Conley, the Utah Jazz announced themselves as a legitimate contender to make the Finals next season and swiped the first domino in what is set up to be an interesting and unpredictable point guard market.

To review: Utah traded Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, Grayson Allen, the No. 23 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft (7 p.m. ET on ESPN), and a protected future first-round pick that will mostly likely shift over to Memphis in 2022 — when it will be top-six protected, per league sources.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

Contracts tied to Conley and Rudy Gobert expire after the 2020-21 season, so by (probably) deferring the pick until 2022, Memphis has at least given itself a shot of catching the Jazz in a down year at the same time the NBA might have a “double draft” combining one-and-done college prospects with newly eligible players coming out of high school.

This is good return for Memphis, which is losing a franchise legend and the last remaining on-court link to the beloved Grit-N-Grind era. (Conley should have a statue outside FedExForum in Memphis soon after his retirement.)1

The Grizzlies took a slight risk in waiting until now to deal Conley instead of acting at the trade deadline, but it ended up costing them nothing beyond the chance to clear more 2019-20 salary. They might have come out better for it.

They always wanted two first-round picks, and they got them. The Detroit Pistons opted against paying that price, sources say, and even had the Pistons agreed, Memphis might have been stuck with Reggie Jackson. The Pacers would not surrender two first-round picks and Aaron Holiday, sources say.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

In Allen, Korver, and Crowder, Memphis gets three useful players. (Depending on how they structure the trade, the Grizzlies could also create a fat trade exception of about $25 million.) Allen, the 21st pick a year ago, logged just 416 minutes as a rookie, but Utah remained optimistic about his potential. The Grizzlies can almost argue they acquired three first-round picks in this deal. Waiting also allowed Memphis to have certainty over where Utah would pick in Thursday’s draft.

Korver and especially Crowder are movable for value. (Memphis trading Crowder for two second-round picks makes too much sense for it not to happen — and maybe soon.) Crowder leaves a gaping hole at power forward in Utah. (The Jazz’s best lineups since acquiring Crowder at the 2018 trade deadline have featured him as a small-ball power forward.)