Chicago Bulls: 3 potential trade destinations for Kris Dunn

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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(Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Pick Analysis. Western 13th seed. Memphis Grizzlies. 211. Depth Chart. (28-40). 2. player

With the exodus of franchise legend Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies have finally embraced the rebuild after many years of teetering on the border of falling out of playoff contention. With a lottery pick coming their way this summer, and Jaren Jackson Jr. looking like a legitimate future franchise cornerstone, Memphis has a lot of positives to look forward to.

One thing they’re likely not looking forward to, however, is the inevitable break-up with beloved point guard Mike Conley. At the age of 20, Conley entered the league wearing a Grizzlies uniform. 782 games later, and he’s still proudly donning that Memphis jersey.

Unfortunately, if the team is serious about reconstructing this roster, they will be forced to deal Conley while he still has All-Star caliber talent. Memphis was reportedly shopping Conley at the deadline, but could not find a suitable deal. Apparently, a young point guard, a first-round pick, and a second-round pick would have been enough to get the deal done.

This is would be Chicago’s best opportunity to pounce. Dangling a package around Dunn would grant the Grizzlies a solid project piece, where he would be allowed to play as a primary ball handler due to the lack of shooting guard talent in Memphis.

Conley just might be the most underrated player in the NBA. Even better, his play style would mesh perfectly next to offensive catalyst Zach LaVine. Per 100 possessions, Conley averages 9.5 assists and only 2.9 turnovers. His veteran leadership and ability to create for his teammates would be an invaluable asset for this young Bulls team.

Adding him to the Chicago Bulls’ current lineup would instantly make them a playoff team, possibly even good enough to compete with the current top-5 teams in the East. Typically, a talent of Conley’s level would require a much bigger package, but the Bulls have several factors working in their favor here:

  1. There aren’t many buyers in the point guard market. Nine of the top 10 teams have a bona fide All-Star talent at point guard, the Indiana Pacers being the lone exception. Point guard is simply the deepest position in the league, which makes fetching an enormous package for one much more difficult.
  2. Conley is grossly overpaid. For the few teams that are actively looking to add a top-tier point guard to their roster, most of them can’t afford it. Conley’s albatross contract rules out many of his potential suitors. For the Bulls, however, this isn’t a problem. The Bulls will have enough cap room to eat what’s left of his payroll hit after sending out Dunn, Cristiano Felicio, and Antonio Blakeney. Conley’s contract expires just in time before Lauri Markkanen hits restricted free agency.
  3. Memphis isn’t great at negotiating. Bulls fans saw firsthand earlier this year how competent the Grizzlies’ bargaining skills are, as Chicago sent them Justin Holiday in return for a much better player in Wayne Selden and two future draft picks. At the trade deadline, they downgraded three-time All-Star Marc Gasol into Jonas Valanciunas, a second-round pick, and a few piles of scrap from Toronto’s bench. Simply put, of each front office in the NBA, Memphis might have the worst poker face.

The one clear drawback to this aggressive move would mean the Chicago Bulls would likely witness the departure of the surging Robin Lopez, unless in the unlikely case he opts to return on a veteran minimum. However, they may already have a contingency plan available, as former-Bull Joakim Noah is primed to hit free agency this summer. Regardless, Conley is too great of a talent to pass on.