Hoping to keep Mike Conley, Grizzlies decline Lance Stephenson option

By Michael Dixon
Feb 27, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Memphis Grizzlies head coach David Joerger talks with Memphis Grizzlies forward Lance Stephenson (1) and Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) during the second half against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Suns won 111-106. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Grizzlies want to bring back Mike Conley. In order to do that, the team has parted ways with Lance Stephenson, who played 26 games in Memphis last season.

“The Memphis Grizzlies are declining guard Lance Stephenson’s $9.4 million team option for next season,” writes Shams Charania of The Vertical. “The Grizzlies declined the option in order to keep as much cap space as possible, sources said, as they hope to retain point guard Mike Conley, who is an unrestricted free agent after nine seasons with the Grizzlies.”

This is a good move from a few perspectives.

One is that Mike Conley remains an effective player. Granted, he has had a hard time consistently staying on the floor. But when he’s been on there, Conley has consistently played good defense and averaged about 15 points and 5-6 assists per night. That isn’t something that many guards do.

Two, even if we take Conley out of the equation, Stephenson is just not worth $9.4 million next year. We simply can’t ignore that this guy has been a headache everywhere he goes. After leaving the Indiana Pacers, Stephenson has played for three teams over the last two years. That can’t  be a coincidence.

Even eliminating that variable, Stephenson is just not that good. He is a decent defender, world-class pest and good seventh or eighth man in a rotation. That’s nice to have. But even with an elevated salary cap, those skills are not worth $9.4 million.

Some team might disagree. But whether Mike Conley is a factor or not, that team should not be Memphis.