Report: Spurs to court Mike Conley in free agency

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The Spurs want to sign Kevin Durant.

That requires a plan to clear enough cap space to offer a max contract for someone with nine years of experience. As long as they’re doing that, why not consider another player with nine years of experience – Mike Conley?

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Thunder beating the Spurs makes it less likely Durant comes to San Antonio. But Conley would be a heck of a fallback option. The Grizzlies point guard is one of the top free agents on the market.

The big question: What would it mean for Tony Parker, who spent his entire 15-year career with the Spurs? Would he become a backup? Would San Antonio trade him?

The salary-cap math for Conley is similar to Durant, though trading Parker and his $14,445,313 salary becomes much more tenable for Conley. Dumping Danny Green and/or Boris Diaw makes less sense to get two point guards than it does to get Durant.

Conley would be an upgrade over Parker and is five years younger. Most teams would jump at the opportunity. But a big appeal of the Spurs’ is their apparent loyalty to their core players. Trading Parker to sign Conley could jeopardize that.

However, that perception of San Antonio might not match reality. Parker has come up in trade rumors over the years, far more than Tim Duncan and Ginobili. If one of the big three has been expendable, it’s Parker. I’m not as convinced the Spurs are loyal to their core as much as they’ve just never gotten an offer that warranted trading a top player.

Logically, Conley would help San Antonio build around Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Parker could even fetch a helpful asset in a trade.

It just feels strange to hear about the Spurs going this route when Parker has meant so much to the organization.