NBA Rumors: Celtics Could Swap Gordon Hayward For Mike Conley If Kyrie Irving Leaves In Free Agency

Mike Conley #11 of the Memphis Grizzlies looks on during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at TD Garden on March 11, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

Kyrie Irving and his impending free agency have been one of the most talked about topics in the past months. After a 2018-19 NBA season filled with drama and frustration, multiple signs are pointing out that the All-Star point guard will be leaving the Boston Celtics to chase his second NBA championship title somewhere else. Irving’s departure will undeniably have a huge effect on the Celtics’ offseason plan.

With Terry Rozier also on his way out of Boston, the Celtics will be needing to find a new starting caliber point guard on the free agency or trade market. Unfortunately, according to Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report, if Kyrie Irving leaves and Al Horford exercises his $30.1 million player option, the Celtics will only be left with less than $10 million salary cap space, which could leave them with no choice but to take the trade route to address their backcourt problem.

One of the NBA players that the Celtics could target on the trade market next summer is Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies may have decided to keep Conley for the rest of the 2018-19 NBA season, but they no longer consider him as part of their long-term future. When the season is officially over, the Grizzlies are expected to trade Conley for assets that could help them speed up the rebuilding process.

In the proposed trade deal by Bleacher Report, the Celtics will be sending Gordon Hayward and a 2020 first-round pick to the Grizzlies in exchange for Mike Conley. The deal works on ESPN‘s NBA Trade Machine. If the trade becomes a reality, it will not only be beneficial for the Celtics but also for the Grizzlies.

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“If Irving leaves, a trade for Anthony Davis seems unlikely as well. That means keeping and building around Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, with someone like Conley to tie it all together. Boston has something Memphis would love to have back: its own 2020 first-round pick that’s sure to fall in the lottery once again. Swapping Conley for Hayward, who almost has an identical $66 million remaining over the next two years, means getting an All-Star-caliber point guard for Boston without increasing the payroll. For the Grizzlies, they get their own rebuilding piece back.”

The core of Mike Conley, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Al Horford will help the Celtics remain competitive in the 2018-19 NBA season. The departure of Kyrie Irving could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for young players like Tatum and Brown as it will enable them to receive a more significant role in Boston.

Meanwhile, aside from having their own 2020 first-round pick back, the Grizzlies may also consider engaging Gordon Hayward in another trade to acquire young players and future draft assets. Hayward may have suffered a disappointing season, but there are still teams who see him as a player who could be a reliable contributor on the offensive end of the floor.