Mike Conley did his best on Wednesday to go about the day as usual, despite the fact that the Utah Jazz front office was in the late stages of a trade discussion that would include moving him to Minnesota.

Making things even more awkward, before the news became official, Conley took to the court to warm up on Wednesday night, knowing that he was going to be traded to Minnesota. The team on the other side of the court was none other than the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Danny Ainge sat on the Jazz bench, conducting business on his phone before leaving the court just before Conley did.

Conley recently told the Deseret News that he’d be more than happy to spend the rest of his career in Utah, a place that his family enjoys and that they have made a home, especially if the only other option was going to a different rebuilding team.

But Conley also said that if a trade were to happen, he hoped it would send him to a place he had a chance to contend for a title in the final years of his career.

He didn’t want to have to move his family once again just to kind of watch the end of his career fizzle out.

“I don’t want to be somewhere where there’s just no chance,” Conley said. “But you never know what’s going to happen or how things will end up working out.”

About an hour before the game was set to tip off on Wednesday, the Jazz finalized the trade to send Conley to Minnesota in a three-team deal that will also send Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt to the Los Angeles Lakers.

In the deal, Minnesota gets Conley and Nickeil Alexander-Walker and three future second-round picks from the Jazz. The Lakers get D’Angelo Russell from the Timberwolves as well as Beasley and Vanderbilt.

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The Jazz will receive a 2027 first-round pick from the Lakers, which is top-4 protected, as well as Russell Westbrook, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Damian Jones.

The trade reunites Conley and Rudy Gobert, and it gives the Timberwolves a chance to optimize their offense. Minnesota has been struggling to unlock Gobert on that side.

“I think it has a lot to do with us being able to get him the ball more and better and in the flow of the offense,” Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch said prior to the trade.

Finch went on to say that when Utah had Gobert, there was a concerted effort to build the team around him in a way that would complement the Frenchman.

“What happened here in Utah was an evolution of a roster best crafted around their best players,” Finch said. “Our roster doesn’t resemble those types of players. We have different types of players, so we have to be able to do different types of things.”

Now though, the Wolves do have one of those players, and one who is a veteran point guard that is intimately familiar with playing alongside Gobert, so they might be able to replicate some of the offensive successes the Jazz had when Gobert and Conley share the floor. 

Gobert told the Deseret News on Wednesday night that he was over the moon about reuniting with Conley, and it’s understandable considering how difficult the transition has been from the Jazz to the Timberwolves.

Though Gobert had heard that the Jazz were in talks with the Timberwolves, he also knew that there were other teams, like the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns who had shown interest in Conley. When he found out that Conley was for sure going to be joining him in Minnesota, Gobert immediately celebrated.

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“I’m just really happy that it’s Mike,” Gobert said. “I’m excited. Obviously I love Mike. I just love the way he plays the game they way makes people around him better, his professionalism, the way he plays to win and his selflessness and I love him as a person too, so obviously I’m happy.”

It’s hard to say without talking to Conley following the trade how he views the deal, and it’s not likely that he would publicly say anything negative about his new situation, but it’s also hard to call the Timberwolves a true contender as of today.

Minnesota went into Wednesday night 29-28 on the season and hasn’t had too much of a chance to really evaluate a healthy roster.

It’s possible that the addition of Conley could give the Wolves a boost and put them more squarely into playoff contention, but whether or not they end up being an actual contender remains to be seen.

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