The talks have been ongoing for weeks, but one source close to the Blazers said Portland GM Kevin Pritchard remains hesitant about completing the deal and that a trade doesn’t appear imminent.
The salaries of Outlaw and Conley would allow for a one-on-one swap, but both teams want to include additional players and contracts to satisfy other needs, including Portland’s Sergio Rodriguez and Memphis’ Hakim Warrick and Javaris Crittenton. It is unlikely that this trade will happen for a straight-up exchange of Outlaw and Conley.
Outlaw, 24, and Conley, 21, are both represented by agent Bill Duffy, and a source said that he’s been involved in the discussions.
Portland has long coveted Conley, in large part because of his childhood friendship with center Greg Oden. Conley and Oden grew up together in Indianapolis, playing together through a Final Four season at Ohio State. Pritchard knows that Conley has the credibility to get in Oden’s face when he needs a push, and that’s played an important part in his trade explorations.-Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski
Wow, so they're looking at a trade that might look something like this (trademachine)?
Portland Trades: Outlaw, Sergio Rodriguez
Memphis trades: Conely Jr, Hakim Warrick
For the Grizzlies trading Conely Jr makes a lot of sense. Personally I think Conely Jr is better than he is showing in Memphis, but what he's been showing in Memphis really hasn't been much. in identical minutes to last season, both his PPG and APG have dropped. His turnovers per game have dropped but not significantly, His PER has dropped too. He's become stagnant, If it weren't for three statistically good games (and all team losses) in November, Conely Jr would be down significantly (from a stats perspective) from last season.
Remember also that Conely is a sophmore in the NBA, playing probably the most difficult position on the court. Beyond that the kid just turned 21 in October. He's got the physical tools. He's very quick, he's smart, he's strong, he can jump. However, he was also picked #4 in a very strong draft class. This kid's story has been uninspiring so far (beyond you know, that whole NCAA Finals run thing), but its far from over.
From Portland's standpoint, trading both Outlaw and Rodriguez makes sense on some level. Before this season, Outlaw was clamoring for increase playing time and came just shy of demanding a starting role. He'd kind of earned it though. He's listed as a SF, but he spent the majority of his time at the power forward spot in small ball lineups last season. Because in part of a glut of viable big forwards for Portland (Oden, Pryzbilla, Frye, Aldridge), Outlaw has been regulated to the SF spot for the majority of this season. His play hasn't improved but it hasn't dropped off either.
He's a guy that is poised to be a productive 30 minute player for some team, but in Portland there are just too many talented players and too few minutes. Even at the small forward the Blazers have Batum (who has started the majority of the games), Brandon Roy (who moves over when Rudy Fernandez is playing the 2), and Outlaw. Martell Webster is poised to re-enter the lineup and he started 70 games at the 3 for Portland last season. Because Batum is a rookie, its quite possible that Outlaw is the odd man out.
The question I have however is while we know why it makes sense that these teams would trade Outlaw and Conely, why would the Grizzlies want Outlaw? Why would the Blazers want Conley? Wojnarowski doesn't really tackle this in his report, speculating that Oden's friendship with Conely is a motivating factor for the Blazers. The Blazers drafted Skip Jerryd Bayless in June, and as it is now they're only playing Sergio Rodriguez 15 minutes per game as a reserve point guard. The kicker is that recently, Spanish Chocolate (Sergio) has been producing! Where does Conely fit into a rotation that already plays Steve Blake 30 minutes per game?
As far as Outlaw and the Grizzlies go, I can only imagine that Outlaw would replace Darrel Arthur as the starting power forward, and that Sergio would either replace Conely or fight with Kyle Lowery for PT (and probably win) at the point. On some level it makes sense for the Grizzlies, but with Outlaw shooting just shy of 50% from 3 (seriously), it would make a lot more sense to try to move Rudy Gay to the 2, and Outlaw to the 3. But then, where does rookie phenom OJ Mayo fit in? The benefit for the Grizzlies is that they're losing, so any lineup moves can be chalked up to "tinkering".
Personally despite the less than ideal matchup I hope this trade goes through, especially if Sergio Rodriguez gets traded. I've kind of been pulling for Conely Jr, and if he can help motivate Oden into playing better (although he's not playing too shabby) all the better. I just find it hard to believe that a childhood friendship could be a motivating factor in a major trade.
However, if Sergio Rodriguez can parlay this trade into a 30 minutes per game role, well call me giddy. I'm not ashamed (or alone) to state that I am a member of the "Free Sergio" campaign. I imagine it will look something like the Kings teams circa 2000. A lineup of Rodriguez-Mayo-Gay-Outlaw-Gasol would absolutely just fly up and down the court, and i also imagine that jaw-dropping dunks would flow like water on a rainy day.
Be respectful and keep it clean. Thanks.