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Grizzlies exploring Marc Gasol and Mike Conley trades is NBA business as usual

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The Grit & Grind Grizzlies built one of the NBA’s strongest identities. They were big. They were physical. They were tough.

They fit Memphis perfectly.

Those Grizzlies – led by Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Tony Allen – endeared themselves in countless ways, big and small. They reached seven straight postseasons, upsetting the top-seeded Spurs in the 2011 first round and peaking with a trip to the 2013 Western Conference finals. They also spoke frequently about their affection for the Memphis community. The connection built over uncommon longevity.

Until the Grizzlies let Randolph and Allen leave in 2017 free agency, the Gasol-Conley-Randolph-Allen quartet had the longest active run together in the NBA. Now, Gasol and Conley have the longest active run together as a pair.

But Memphis is shopping those two stars, and it’s leading to some heartache.

Gasol didn’t like the Grizzlies letting Randolph and Allen go. Gasol doesn’t like Memphis shopping Conley, who has spent all 11 of his prior NBA seasons with the Grizzlies. And Gasol himself could get traded after spending all 10 of his prior seasons in Memphis.

That’s how the NBA works, though. It’s extremely difficult for players to earn loyalty from a team.

Even players who spent their first 10 seasons with a franchise don’t usually spend the rest of their careers with that team. Most of the players who remained with the same team after that 10-year mark already won a championship with that team. Most of the players who switched teams later in their careers didn’t win a title with their original team.

Here’s every player who spent his first 10 seasons with the same team, sorted by whether they won a title in that span and whether they changed teams later in their career:

No title, changed teams

  • DeAndre Jordan (LAC, 2009-2018)
  • Jameer Nelson (ORL, 2005-2014)
  • Anderson Varejao (CLE, 2005-2014)
  • Andrei Kirilenko (UTA, 2002-2011)
  • Michael Redd (MIL, 2001-2010)
  • Zydrunas Ilgauskas (CLE, 1998-2008)
  • Adonal Foyle (GSW, 1998-2007)
  • Allen Iverson (PHI, 1997-2006)
  • Kevin Garnett (MIN, 1996-2005)
  • Danny Ferry (CLE, 1991-2000)
  • Gary Payton (SEA, 1991-2000)
  • Nick Anderson (ORL, 1990-1999)
  • Patrick Ewing (NYK, 1986-1995)
  • Jon Koncak (ATL, 1986-1995)
  • Karl Malone (UTA, 1986-1995)
  • Chris Mullin (GSW, 1986-1995)
  • Terry Porter (POR, 1986-1995)
  • Vern Fleming (IND, 1985-1994)
  • Jerome Kersey (POR, 1985-1994)
  • Clyde Drexler (POR, 1984-1993)
  • Derek Harper (DAL, 1984-1993)
  • Dominique Wilkins (ATL, 1983-1992)
  • Rolando Blackman (DAL, 1982-1991)
  • Sidney Moncrief (MIL, 1980-1989)
  • Robert Reid (HOU, 1978-1988)
  • Walter Davis (PHO, 1978-1987)
  • Tree Rollins (ATL, 1978-1987)
  • Alvan Adams (PHO, 1976-1985)
  • Oscar Robertson (CIN, 1961-1970)
  • Carl Braun (NYK, 1948-1959)

No title, stayed on team

  • Jeff Foster (IND, 2000-2009)
  • Rik Smits (IND, 1989-1998)
  • Reggie Miller (IND, 1988-1997)
  • Nate McMillan (SEA, 1987-1996)
  • John Stockton (UTA, 1985-1994)
  • Mark Eaton (UTA, 1983-1992)
  • Darrell Griffith (UTA, 1981-1991)
  • Allen Leavell (HOU, 1980-1989)
  • Tom Boerwinkle (CHI, 1969-1978)
  • Jerry West (LAL, 1961-1970)

Title, stayed on team

  • Manu Ginobili (SAS, 2003-2012)
  • Tim Duncan (SAS, 1998-2007)
  • Kobe Bryant (LAL, 1997-2006)
  • David Robinson (SAS, 1990-1999)
  • Joe Dumars (DET, 1986-1995)
  • James Worthy (LAL, 1983-1992)
  • Isiah Thomas (DET, 1982-1991)
  • Kevin McHale (BOS, 1981-1990)
  • Larry Bird (BOS, 1980-1989)
  • Magic Johnson (LAL, 1980-1989)
  • Michael Cooper (LAL, 1979-1988)
  • Fred Brown (SEA, 1972-1981)
  • Bill Bradley (NYK, 1968-1977)
  • Willis Reed (NYK, 1965-1974)
  • John Havlicek (BOS, 1963-1972)
  • Tom Sanders (BOS, 1961-1970)
  • Sam Jones (BOS, 1958-1967)
  • Cliff Hagan (STL, 1957-1966)
  • Bill Russell (BOS, 1957-1966)
  • Paul Arizin (PHW, 1951-1962)
  • Vern Mikkelsen (MNL, 1950-1959)
  • Dolph Schayes (SYR, 1950-1959)

Title, changed teams

  • Dwyane Wade (MIA, 2004-2013)
  • Tayshaun Prince (DET, 2003-2012)
  • Tony Parker (SAS, 2002-2011)
  • Paul Pierce (BOS, 1999-2008)
  • Scottie Pippen (CHI, 1988-1997)
  • Michael Jordan (CHI, 1985-1995)
  • Hakeem Olajuwon (HOU, 1985-1994)
  • Byron Scott (LAL, 1984-1993)
  • Maurice Cheeks (PHI, 1979-1988)
  • Dave Cowens (BOS, 1971-1980)
  • Phil Jackson (NYK, 1968-1978)
  • Walt Frazier (NYK, 1968-1977)
  • Bob Cousy (BOS, 1951-1960)

There are also a few current players who spent their first 10 seasons with the same team: Russell Westbrook (OKC, 2009-2018), Udonis Haslem (MIA, 2004-2013) and Dirk Nowitzki (DAL, 1999-2008). Their fates are uncertain, though it seems highly likely Haslem and Nowitzki – who won titles, though Nowitzki didn’t do it until his 13th season – will retire with their original franchises.

And of course, there’s also Gasol (MEM, 2009-2018) and Conley (MEM, 2008-2017).

The Grizzlies never made even the NBA Finals, let alone won a title. Teams like that usually aren’t motivated by nostalgia.

Memphis (19-29) is 14th in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies can rebuild around rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. Gasol and Conley could fetch assets – younger players and draft picks – that enhance the next era.

Everything about this situation screams for Memphis to at least explore trading Conley and Gasol. That the Grizzlies resisted so long was the bigger story.

But Memphis is showing itself to be a typical NBA team – one willing to move on from beloved players once necessary. Sure, that’s a little sad. It’s also common reality.

Report: Knicks, who have No. 3 pick, to work out Darius Garland

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Duke forward R.J. Barrett is the consensus No. 3 prospect in the upcoming NBA draft. He wants to join the Knicks. The Knicks have the No. 3 pick.

Perfect match?

Maybe not.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

Maybe this is just New York doing its due diligence. The Knicks could also be trying to drum up trade interest among teams that want Garland.

But this feels a little like 2015, when Jahlil Okafor was the consensus No. 2 prospect for most of the pre-draft process but D'Angelo Russell emerged late as the Lakers’ No. 2 pick.

Barrett is a flawed prospect. He didn’t hit jumpers efficiently at Duke. His decision-making is suspect. He’s too left-handed dominant. He rarely uses his defensive tools. There’s a lot to like, to be sure. Barrett has nice size, athleticism and physicality. He’s a good ball-handler and playmaker. He seems built for a leading role.

But it wouldn’t shock me if a team likes Garland more. The point guard is a knockdown shooter with the ball-handling and footwork to get that shot off. He needs work as a distributor and lacks Barrett’s defensive potential.

Garland might not be as good as Barrett right now. But Garland’s path to success might be a little more projectable.

Harrison Barnes declining $25,102,512 player option with Kings

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Harrison Barnes‘ salary was so high, he became a talking point in the debate about WNBA salaries.

But he’s so confident he’ll get a better deal, he’s leaving $25,102,512 on the table with the Kings.

James Ham of NBC Sports California:

If they renounce all their free agents, the Kings project to have about $60 million in cap space – likely more than they know what do with.

They could re-sign Barnes. By trading for him last year, they indicated they value him more than the rest of the league does.

Even if he settles for a lower salary next season than his player option called for, this could be the 27-year-old Barnes’ opportunity to secure a long-term deal. He’s a solid outside shooter and, even if he’s better at power forward, capable of playing small forward in a league thirsty for wings.

Sacramento could definitely use a player like him.

Can the Kings lure someone better, either this summer or – if they keep their books clean – a future year? Unless way overpaid, free agents have tended to avoid Sacramento. But the rapidly improving De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield are leading a turnaround.

Barnes’ free agency could be a good litmus test for the Kings’ reputation now. Can they convince him to continue his role on a rising team? Will they have to pay a premium to keep him? Or does he just want to leave?

Report: Anthony Davis intends to receive full trade bonus

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The Lakers are reportedly on track to trade for Anthony Davis on July 6 – the date an important distinction in determining the Lakers’ cap space.

The other key question: Will Davis take his full $4,063,953 trade bonus?

The Pelicans will pay the bonus. It will count against the Lakers’ cap.

Especially considering Davis requested a trade, New Orleans could have pressed him to waive the trade bonus in order to accommodate him. Likewise, the Lakers – his desired team – could have made the deal contingent on Davis waiving the trade bonus.

Ramona Shelburne on ESPN:

My understanding is he doesn’t intend to waive that. He’s due the four million dollars, and he’s going to keep it. But again, as you just noted in that monologue, things can change.

If he takes the full bonus, Davis’ salary next season will increase from $27,093,018 to $31,156,971. And good for him. He earned the trade kicker in his contract.

This also supports agent Rich Paul’s contention that he puts Davis’ interests first while representing Davis, not catering to fellow client LeBron James. Because while the extra money is nice for Davis, this hurts LeBron’s Lakers.

The Lakers now project to have just $24 million in cap room. They can still get a helpful player or two, but $28 million would have gone further.

I wonder whether the Pelicans prefer to pay Davis’ bonus. Though a $4,063,953 check is nothing to sneeze at, tying up the Lakers’ cap space has value with New Orleans getting so many future draft picks from Los Angeles. Maybe the Pelicans have already made Davis getting his full bonus an essential aspect of this trade.

If not, the Lakers have a week before the Davis trade can become official to pitch free agents. Perhaps, if they line up certain free agents and show him the spending power of that extra money, Davis would waive all or some of his trade bonus.

But I wouldn’t blame him if he wants his money and puts the onus on the Lakers to build a strong team, anyway. That’d sounds a lot like another Paul client.

Kawhi Leonard leaving NBA-champion Raptors would be unlike anything we’ve ever seen

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Many Raptors fans hoped Kawhi Leonard would use yesterday’s championship parade to declare his plan to re-sign with Toronto.

They got a laugh and not much else.

But they can be heartened – or maybe eventually heartbroken –a by this: Stars almost never switched teams immediately following a title.

Before this year, there have been…

  • 49 Finals MVPs who won a championship. None switched teams that offseason.
  • 147 All-Stars who won a championship. None switched teams that offseason.
  • 124 All-NBA players who won a championship. Only one switched teams that offseason.

In 1998, Scottie Pippen got signed-and-traded from the Bulls to the Rockets. He was neither an All-Star nor Finals MVP that year, but he made the All-NBA third team. After leaving Chicago, he never achieved any of those accolades.

Leonard checked all three boxes this season – Finals MVP, All-NBA, All-Star. He looks poised to take over as the NBA’s best player for the next few several years.

It’d be unprecedented for someone like him to bolt.

The most productive player to leave a championship team immediately after winning a title? It might be Tyson Chandler, who posted 9.4 win shares for the 2011 Mavericks then got signed-and-traded to the Knicks.

Even while missing 22 games amid load management and minor injury, Leonard posted 9.5 win shares last season.

Here’s how Leonard compares to the players with the most win shares in a title-winning season who began play elsewhere the following year:


Of course, Leonard isn’t bound by history. He’ll make his own decision. If he wants to leave the Raptors for the Clippers, Knicks or anyone else, he can.

But players just usually stick with a champion. LeBron James said he might have re-signed with the Heat if they won the 2014 title. Kyrie Irving was unhappy after the Cavaliers’ 2016 championship but didn’t request a trade until they lost in the 2017 NBA Finals. Shaq and Kobe coexisted peacefully enough until the Lakers stopped winning titles.

It’s just hard to leave a team that has proven its ability to win a championship, and Leonard would have that in Toronto.