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Jazz upgrade roster with Conley trade instead of NBA draft

Jun 21, 2019, 1:35 PM
mike conley nba draft...
Memphis Grizzlies Mike Conley (11) drives past Utah Jazz's Royce O'Neale (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 8, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht)
(AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht)

By JOHN COON Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah took an alternate route to upgrade its roster rather than building through the NBA draft Thursday night.

The Jazz sent the No. 23 pick to Memphis on Wednesday as part of a trade that will bring veteran point guard Mike Conley to Utah. Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver and Grayson Allen all went to Memphis along with a future Jazz first-round pick, as part of the trade which cannot be finalized until July 6.

The Grizzlies selected forward Darius Bazely with the 23rd pick and dealt him to the Thunder in exchange for Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke, the No. 21 selection.

Conley joining Donovan Mitchell represents a massive upgrade in Utah’s backcourt. Finding a point guard who could help lift some of the offensive burden off Mitchell’s shoulders was a top priority for Utah heading into the offseason. Conley fills this need.

The veteran point guard posted a career high 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game a year ago after missing all but 12 games during the 2016-17 season because of a heel injury. Overall, Conley appeared in 788 games over 12 seasons with Memphis, with career averages of 14.9 points and 5.7 assists.

Barring a trade, this marks the second time in four seasons where the Jazz will not have a first-round selection joining the team in the fall as a rookie. Utah traded away No. 12 pick Taurean Prince to the Hawks in 2016 as part of a three-team deal to acquire then Pacers point guard George Hill.

Utah was active in acquiring second-round picks, looking for players to develop and potentially fill out the roster going into next season.

“All those guys, we’re really excited to have them,” Jazz GM Justin Zanik said. “They fit what we’re looking for as far as Jazz players now and going forward.”

Utah traded a future second rounder to get the No. 50 pick from the Pacers and used it to select College of Charleston forward Jarrell Brantley. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 19.4 points and 8.4 rebounds during his senior season at Charleston and was the 2016 CAA Rookie of the Year.

The Jazz retained the No. 53 pick and used it to select Hofstra point guard Justin Wright-Foreman. The 6-foot-2 guard earned CAA Player of the Year honors in 2018 and 2019. Wright-Foreman ranked second in the NCAA in scoring as a senior at 27.1 points per game.

Utah also received the No. 58 pick from the Warriors and took Yale shooting guard Miye Oni. The 6-foot-6 guard was the Ivy League Player of the Year the past two seasons and ranked third in the league in scoring (17.1 points) and assists (3.6) as a senior.

All three players can create with the ball in their hands, which piqued Utah’s interest in nabbing them in the second round.

“There is a saying: ‘If you play in college and you’re good enough, the NBA will find you,'” Zanik said. “These guys were all known commodities. They’ve all had very successful careers. It wasn’t something where they just came on the radar.”

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Jazz upgrade roster with Conley trade instead of NBA draft