Roughly half a year after the blockbuster deal with the Utah Jazz that put Rudy Gobert in a Minnesota Timberwolves uniform, it seems as though Wolves President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly didn’t lose Danny Ainge’s number after all.
In a trade deadline article on The Athletic detailing a few murmurs around the league as the deadline nears, Shams Charania reported that the Timberwolves have interest in veteran point guard Mike Conley, whose Jazz team just picked up its second win of the year against the Wolves.
Spoke to Mike Conley about playing on MLK Day for the 13th time and the moment he shared with Anthony Edwards on the court at the end of the game. pic.twitter.com/uv4wmz1pfg— SneakerReporter (@SneakerReporter) January 17, 2023
The 35-year-old Arkansas native is in year two of a two-year/$68 million extension he signed with the Jazz before the 2021-22 season. His $24,360,000 cap hit for next season is partially guaranteed and becomes fully guaranteed 48 hours after the 2023 NBA Draft, per Spotrac. Theoretically, Conley could be waived before then without his team absorbing the full cap hit.
By going to Minnesota, Conley would carry the same role into the team that he has held in Utah this season, something I’m sure intrigues the Wolves front office. A veteran presence that still has some game left, but not needing to be even close to a primary scoring option, something current point guard D’Angelo Russell is carrying out. The Wolves have found a bit of a groove as of late, but still sorely need a presence to sure up the bridging of the gap that has taken place between a discombobulated starting lineup loaded with star power.
Interested to see how Utah's offense evolves with Mike Conley. I loved this play from preseason: Gobert screens and rolls with Ingles and Bogdanovic spacing the floor. Mitchell backscreens for Gobert then pops for 3. Conley orchestrates it all. Great set. https://t.co/QKOaotrbnd pic.twitter.com/b9LIElPX8a— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) October 23, 2019
Conley, still a good perimeter defender, is more of a pure point guard that does not play on volume. His 8.8 field goal attempts per game is the lowest number he has put up since his second year in the league. But with that, he’s also shooting his lowest percentage since 2017-18 with the Memphis Grizzlies at 38.6%, a metric at the time that helped stoke the flames of a mutual breakup with the Grizzlies.
However, behind that field goal percentage is a 35% clip from three-point range, a pillar in his 52.7% true shooting percentage, and a career-high 7.5 assists. On true shooting, Conley has had five seasons previously where he has turned in a worse season below his current 52.7%.
Reinforcements of perimeter defense, playmaking, leadership, the ability to be effective both on and off the ball, and a further melding of Gobert with a team that so desperately needs it, and has seen glimmers of it recently, make him an interesting call for Connelly.
Bundle that up into a lower-volume player with a relatively friendly contract given the circumstances in a lineup that has plenty of mouths to feed, and some that could even be fed more (cough, Jaden McDaniels, cough), and there lies the source of the smoke. Buckle up!