Memphis ownership and management have decided that they’ve reached an organizational crossroads and are preparing to weigh deal scenarios on one or both of their cornerstone veterans between now and the Feb. 7 trade deadline — and perhaps into the offseason, league sources said.
The Grizzlies could decide to keep one or both players if no deals meet the threshold of a desired return, but the organization is motivated to begin reshaping the roster around 2018 first-round pick, forward Jaren Jackson, league sources said.
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The Grizzlies will pursue typical deal packages for veteran stars, including young talent, future draft picks and salary cap relief, league sources said.
They had hoped to contend for a return to the playoffs in the Western Conference, but have lost nine of 10 games to drop to 19-28 overall and into second-to-last place in the West. Memphis owes the Boston Celtics a first-round draft pick that is protected to No. 8 in 2019, No. 6 in 2020 and unprotected in 2021.
Gasol, 33, can become a free agent this summer by opting out of the final year of his $25.5 million contract for 2019-20. He has a trade kicker on his contract that would be valued at $1.2 million at the time of the February deadline.
Conley, 31, has an early termination option for the 2020-21 season. The guard has $22.4 million of his $34.5M salary guaranteed, with the balance becoming fully protected if he plays in 55 games this season. He’s already played in 46 games.
Conley is guaranteed $32 million in 2019-20, so trading for him will likely commit an organization to $67M in salary over the final two years of his original five-year, $153M contract.
Gasol and Conley have been the centerpieces of the Grizzlies’ brief basketball history, leading the organization to the playoffs for seven straight seasons prior to 2018 — including two trips to the Western Conference semifinals and one to the conference finals.
Gasol and Conley met with owner Robert Pera in Memphis recently, but neither expressed a desire to be traded, league sources told ESPN.
The Grizzlies also are trying to trade forward Chandler Parsons, who has $35 million through 2019-20 left on his contract. Parsons and the organization have seemingly parted ways for the season, with Parsons returning to California to workout and wait on a possible trade. Memphis has discussed deals where they’d take on additional salary moving forward, but that’s a more unlikely scenario with Gasol and Conley on the trading block and a rebuild on the horizon.
Parsons has endured chronic knee problems since signing with the Grizzlies on a four-year, $93 million contract in 2016, but he has been cleared to return to the court this season.