MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – The Memphis Grizzlies may be ready to rebuild, to listen to the commercial offers of the oldest teammates in the NBA.
Goaltender Mike Conley said the Grizzlies' owner, Robert Pera, had told himself and center Marc Gasol on Tuesday that they would be mentioned in potential trade talks.
Pera "called just to let me know that they were going to take it," said Conley after Wednesday's shootout before his match against the Charlotte Hornets. "Apart from that, I did not really think about it or hear about it."
Gasol refused to share details of his conversations with the owner of the Grizzlies, claiming he considered them private. Gasol, who can terminate his contract this summer, says he had not asked to be exchanged.
Conley and Gasol are the last pillars of the Grizzlies after playing their entire career with Memphis. ESPN.com announced Tuesday afternoon that the Grizzlies were ready to trade veterans.
When asked if he was surprised by the reports, Gasol replied, "Uh. Not important. "
Trading Gasol, who has a player option on his contract this summer, has been a possibility for some time. Conley's involvement is the biggest indication that Memphis is willing to rebuild a franchise whose playoff series after seven seasons has ended with a final defeat in 2017 against San Antonio in the first round.
Conley missed much of last season with a heel injury and Memphis recruited Jaren Jackson Jr. with the fourth pick in June. The Grizzlies have started this season 12-5, but have gone 7-23 since. They enter Wednesday night's game after losing 12 of 13.
"I do not even understand why Mike is participating in these discussions," said Gasol. "Mike is a very good player, and we are going to need good players to go from the front."
Conley said Tuesday's conversation with Pera was the first time the trade discussion was open to anyone. Conley also said that nothing in his conversation with the team's owner indicated that an exchange would occur by February 7.
"It just made us know that our names would be disclosed," said Conley. "This is not one of us, or both, who will be gone next Tuesday or during the break of the stars. I feel just as good about being here as the next person. I am not worried for the moment. Many can arrive in a few weeks. At the moment, I'm taking it very quickly. "
Conley, 31, is younger than Gasol, 33. The guard is also the best scorer of the Grizzlies with 19.8 points per game, followed by Gasol. He is the all-time leader of Memphis in games played, three-point shots, aids and robberies.
But Conley has a much more expensive deal after the Grizzlies awarded him what was then the biggest contract in the NBA with a contract of five years maximum in July 2016. The guard is due to $ 67 million on the last two seasons of his contract after this season.
Grizzlies coach, JB Bickerstaff, said he had not received any front-office guidance regarding game limitations or the use of Conley and Gasol in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline.
"It's obviously a distraction. It's obviously in people's minds, "said Bickerstaff. "But the only way to handle it is to pay attention to what's important now. We have no control over tomorrow. We have no control over what happened yesterday. We can not waste energy on assumptions, possibilities. "
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