Mike Conley preferred trade to Lakers before Timberwolves deal

Tony Nguyen | Los Angeles Lakers
May 17, 2024

A key to getting the Minnesota Timberwolves more success was unlocking Rudy Gobert. It seemed a like big problem for Chris Finch at the start. When they brought in Mike Conley, things started to change for the better. However, this would not have been the case if the guard had made a different choice. Where would he have ended up in? Probably with LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

You heard that right! Mike Conley was gunning to join the Lakers and help them in their conquest for an 18th NBA championship banner. He unveiled the reasoning behind it in his latest statement, via Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports.

“The Jazz asked me my preferred spots and I told them, ‘Somewhere where I have a chance to win.’ Minnesota wasn’t even on my list of teams. It was the Clippers, the Lakers, or some other organizations that were more out front,” the veteran Timberwolves guard said.

Clearly, Mike Conley had an affinity for states with a calmer climate. So, why didn’t he land in any of those teams? The Lakers had already signed a guard, D’Angelo Russell. He could not join LeBron James’ squad because they would have a logjam at the point guard position. The Los Angeles Clippers also faced a similar situation. They had already signed Russell Westbrook to a deal which meant that he would not get as much playing time nor be able to prove that he can still produce despite his age.

The Utah Jazz were another option. But, choosing to stay meant that he would not be able to compete near the twilight of his career because they had chosen to hit the rebuild button. The most logical place to head to then was the Timberwolves. He already has chemistry with Rudy Gobert anyway and Anthony Edwards was starting to develop as a shooting guard rather than someone who he’d have to fight for the one spot.

Mike Conley’s time with the Timberwolves

May 12, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Mike Conley (10) dribbles up court as Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. (1) defends him in the fourth quarter of game four of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
© Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

His start with the Timberwolves did not come as expected. Heck, Conley did not even know that the squad was interested in acquiring him.

“I was like, I hadn’t heard one thing about this from anybody in the organization, so it caught me by surprise. As you can imagine, with the timing, I was shocked,” he added.

Nonetheless, Conley still made the most out of his stay with the franchise. He has now been with the Timberwolves for two seasons and has played 100 games for them. His production still stayed fairly the same despite his age with his field goal percentage rising. He knocks down 45.7% of his shots from all three levels of scoring to notch 12.1 points per contest.

Moreover, his ability to set up Chris Finch’s offensive schemes has been quite impeccable. He drops an average of 5.7 assists per contest because of this.

Unfortunately, Conley does not have a timetable for an injury return yet. He is currently nursing a day-to-day Achilles injury which leaves him as questionable for Game 6 against the Denver Nuggets.