Last summer, the Utah Jazz traded for veteran point guard Mike Conley with the belief that pairing him with the face of the franchise, Donovan Mitchell, would boost their chances of dominating the Western Conference and winning an NBA championship in the 2019-20 NBA season. Unfortunately, the Jazz were wrong as Conley struggled to co-exist with Mitchell in their backcourt.
The rumors surrounding the Jazz may be currently focused on the worsening relationship between Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, but if there’s one player in Utah that should go in the offseason, Mandela Namaste of Bleacher Report believes that it should be Conley.
“Once considered the team’s greatest strength, the Jazz’s backcourt of Conley and Donovan Mitchell has instead been a source of tension. Mitchell has improved greatly as a passer this year, but to the point where a redundancy exists, and not in a good way. The two guards boast a positive net rating together, but given their respective pedigrees, it should be much better than 1.3, which is Mitchell’s lowest two-man net rating with any Jazz starter. Admitting defeat on Conley’s acquisition wouldn’t be so difficult, as Utah didn’t give up much for him.”
Conley has indeed shown a massive decline with his statistics since being traded to the Jazz. In his final season with the Memphis Grizzlies, the 32-year-old point averaged 21.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 1.3 steals, while shooting 43.8 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from beyond the arc. However, in the first 41 games he played in Utah, Conley only averaged 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 4.3 assists, while shooting 40.5 percent from the field and 37.6 percent from the three-point range.
The drop in Conley’s numbers is somewhat understandable as he needed to make an adjustment with his game to fit in with Mitchell. Though Mitchell normally plays as the Jazz’s starting shooting guard, he’s the type of player that needs the ball in his hands in order to maximize his full potential on the offensive end of the floor. If Conley fails to show better chemistry with Mitchell in the remaining games of the 2019-20 NBA season, the Jazz may be better off parting ways with him this summer.
Conley may already be 32 and is owed a massive salary, but he would still be a valuable trade asset for the Jazz in the offseason. Once he becomes officially available on the trade market, Conley is expected to receive strong interest from teams who want to improve their backcourt while maintaining their salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2021.