As of this writing, the Utah Jazz are tied for sixth place in the Western Conference with a 27-22 record. While this means the team will enter the playoffs if the 2018-19 NBA season ended today, it also seems that the Jazz want to make some roster changes to improve their chances of securing home court advantage in the first round of the postseason. That could mean trading for Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley or Washington Wizards small forward Otto Porter Jr., as suggested in a new report.
Citing the subscriber-only report from the Athletic’s Tony Jones, SBNation blog SLC Dunk wrote that the Jazz are trying to add a third star player who could complement the duo of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Mitchell, a second-year shooting guard, currently leads Utah in scoring with 22.3 points per game, while 7-foot-1 center Gobert is the team’s leading rebounder (13.3) and shot blocker (2.1), while also averaging 14.9 points as the Jazz’s second-leading scorer.
“As we head into trade deadline season, the Jazz continue to search for that dynamic third piece that up to this point has eluded them, league sources tell The Athletic. According to sources, the Jazz have expressed interest in Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley and Wizards small forward Otto Porter Jr., both of whom have been put on the trade block by their respective teams,” Jones wrote, as quoted by SLC Dunk.
As further noted by Jones, it isn’t 100 percent sure if the Utah Jazz will make offers for both, or even just one of the aforementioned players. However, he clarified that the team “may have interest” if the circumstances are right in the lead-up to the NBA’s February 7 trade deadline.
Is Utah close to forming their own Big 3? Do the kids still call them that? https://t.co/1d70HaEpDe
— Mychal Lowman (@My_Lo) January 24, 2019
Although the Jazz already have a solid starting point guard in Ricky Rubio, Jones noted that Conley could be a good fit for the team’s offense as someone who still plays strong defense at the age of 31 and has developed into a strong outside shooter over the years. After missing most of the 2017-18 season due to injury, Conley now averages 20 points, six assists, and 1.3 steals per game for the Grizzlies.
“In relation to the Jazz, he could be a terrific third piece, one who fits well with Mitchell and Gobert, as an experienced guy who has been through multiple playoff wars and continues to play at a high level.”
While Porter (12.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.5 steals) is still having a down year of sorts for the Wizards, the Athletic’s Jones wrote that the Jazz have long been interested in the former Georgetown forward, and had once considered signing him as a replacement for Gordon Hayward, who joined the Boston Celtics in the summer of 2017. He added that Porter’s ability to defend multiple positions and shoot “from most spots” also make him a potentially good fit for the Jazz’s system.
The above report comes amid rumors that the Memphis Grizzlies, who are now second-to-the-last in the Western Conference with a 19-29 record, are considering trading longtime franchise cornerstones Conley and Marc Gasol. While Gasol, per Fox Sports, appeared “emotional” when asked to comment about the rumors, Conley remarked that it’s simply “part of the business,” adding that he’s taking a wait-and-see attitude with regard to the possibility of playing for a new team for the first time in his career.