Grizzlies reportedly expected to trade Mike Conley; could Celtics have interest?

Grizzlies reportedly expected to trade Mike Conley; could Celtics have interest?

Did the Memphis Grizzlies' NBA Draft Lottery result impact the Boston Celtics in more ways than one?

The Grizzlies shot up to the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, ensuring that selection won't convey to Boston this year. But as The New York Times' Marc Stein reported Tuesday, it also might ensure veteran guard Mike Conley's ticket out of town.

The Grizzlies are widely expected to use the No. 2 pick on Murray State’s Ja Morant and trade the ever-reliable Mike Conley in their last big move to fully leave the Grit ‘n Grind era behind.

It appears Conley is on the trading block, and if Kyrie Irving departs in free agency (and/or restricted free agent Terry Rozier seeks greener pastures), the Celtics would be in the market for a point guard.

So, would a Boston trade for Conley be feasible? The 31-year-old has two years left on a massive deal that will pay him $32.5 million in 2019-20. But as the Boston Sports Journal's Brian Robb laid out recently, there are a couple avenues for the C's to explore landing Conley if they're interested.

If the Celtics execute a sign-and-trade with Irving's preferred team instead of letting him walk in free agency, they'll create a trade exception of about $20 million due to the "Base Year Compensation" rule under the NBA's collective bargaining agreement for which Irving qualifies. Boston could then complete a multi-team trade, likely sending a draft pick and Irving to his preferred destination while that team sends assets to Memphis. The C's would use that $20 million exception to take on part of Conley's contract.

Of course, Irving is under no obligation to do a sign-and-trade, so this scenario falls apart if he simply becomes a free agent July 1.

But there's another option for Boston:

Horford and Hayward, the Celtics' two maximum-contract players, both could match Conley's contract in a trade. Horford, who also can opt out of his contract and become a free agent, probably wouldn't want to go to the rebuilding Grizzlies at age 32.

But Hayward's contract ($32.7 million next season) is nearly identical to Conley's, so the C's in theory could do a one-for-one swap while tossing in a draft pick as a sweetener for Memphis.

The Celtics have other fish to fry. Their first priority is convincing Irving to re-sign, and even if they fail, they'll likely be in heavy pursuit of New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis. It's also hard to imagine Boston parting ways with either Horford or Hayward in a deal that doesn't involve Davis.

It sounds like Conley will be moved either way, though, so he's an intriguing "Plan B" for Danny Ainge and Co. to have on their radar.

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Jayson Tatum's talent, Jaylen Brown's bulk amaze Celtics teammate Enes Kanter

Jayson Tatum's talent, Jaylen Brown's bulk amaze Celtics teammate Enes Kanter

Celtics big man Enes Kanter has a propensity to talk up his teammates, but as Boston prepares for its first practice inside the Disney bubble on Friday, Kanter offered a particularly glowing report of what he’s seen from Boston’s core rotation players in voluntary workouts, especially Jaylen Brown.

"The one who amazed me the most is probably Jaylen Brown,” Kanter said Thursday while taping an episode of “The Enes Kanter Show” podcast from his hotel room in Orlando. “[Brown] literally came in — his arms, his upper body, he’s like doubled. He was an extra large and now he was like a double XL.

"This dude, I’m like, ‘What did you do?’ I think all the boxing with his grandfather [during quarantine workouts] got him right. He looks really strong to me.”

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Brown’s 78-year-old grandfather, Willie Brown, a Vietnam vet, guided Brown through boxing-heavy workouts while the NBA season was paused. Those sessions might have helped Brown add bulk, which would come in handy given that he’s routinely tasked with defending power forwards and stretch bigs.

But Brown wasn’t the only one earning Kanter's praise.

"Jayson Tatum, you walk in the gym, this dude is not missing. He did not lose his touch. I’m like, ‘This is talent.’ Rob Williams looks really good. He’s dunking everything. [Daniel] Theis finally got his six-pack. He actually looks in really good shape. Theis was dunking everything and making 3s — the Theis that we know.

“Kemba [Walker] lost weight and he actually looked leaner. I actually asked him, ‘Did you get taller?’ He was like, ‘No, I’m just leaner. I’m just in good shape.’ … Gordon looked really good, looked really really good. They’re all ready to go.”

Enes Kanter Show: C's center gives first impressions of NBA bubble | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

A leaner Walker could alleviate some of the knee discomfort the All-Star point guard experienced before the season paused.

Kanter is eager to see what a full-strength Celtics squad can accomplish given how rare it was for the team to have all of its core players healthy and playing to their abilities before the season was interrupted.

Kanter noted how the Larry O’Brien Trophy from Boston’s 2008 title win was at the Auerbach Center earlier this week and he’s eager to help deliver another shiny golden prize. He’s confident Boston has the talent and focus to compete for this year’s crown, especially given the unique bubble conditions.

“All the players showed up; none of the Celtics players stayed home,” said Kanter. “We’re here to compete, here to have fun, and try to win a championship.

"Hey, I promise the Celtics fans, man, the 18th banner is coming soon. We better win because I know how crazy the Celtics fans are. We better get that.”

Enes Kanter Show: Celtics center explains importance of mental strength in NBA bubble

Enes Kanter Show: Celtics center explains importance of mental strength in NBA bubble

The NBA's bubble at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida will provide the players with plenty of fun activities -- bowling, golf, movies, video games and ping pong, among others -- in their spare time. This doesn't mean the environment will be without challenges, though.

The Boston Celtics traveled down to Orlando on Wednesday night, and they will be staying at the Gran Destino Tower during the league's restart.

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Not every player will be in perfect basketball shape once practices ramp up soon. That's understandable, and it's a challenge the players eventually will overcome. The mental challenges will be the most important -- and maybe the toughest -- to battle through given the uniqueness of the situation. 

In the latest episode of the The Enes Kanter Show podcast, Celtics center Enes Kanter explained the importance of mental strength in the league's bubble.

"All we have to do is get in game shape. We all know how to play basketball. It's like riding a bike -- you can't forget how to play basketball," Kanter said. "You can be a little rusty and get back into shape. But I think the important thing is the mental part because you're away from your family and loved ones for three months and now all you have is your basketball family and coaches. That's why the 3-month period before Orlando was so important to keep building that chemistry. I think now we're all bonding and the chemistry is really good. We all care about each other. We're just going to go out there and play golf, go bowling and fish all day, and other than that just play basketball. I feel, besides from the games, you can actually just relax. Read a book, just invest in yourself."

Enes Kanter Show: C's center gives first impressions of NBA bubble | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

The bubble was made to ensure the players can continue playing in an environment that's as safe and as healthy as possible amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Players won't have the same freedom they normally do on the road, and the teams that are mentally tough and well prepared likely will enjoy the most success in Orlando.

Kanter is in no mood to complain. He's going to make the most out of the opportunity to compete for a championship, and you can bet his Celtics teammates will have a similar attitude. 

"Love it or hate, you're going to be here for three months," Kanter said. "So you might as well look at the positive side of it.

Check out The Enes Kanter Show on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or watch on YouTube below: