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Conley, Gasol respond to trade talk surrounding them

On Tuesday, reports circulated that the Memphis Grizzlies were listening to trade offers for two of their franchise stalwarts: center Marc Gasol and guard Mike Conley. The NBA trade deadline — Feb. 7 — is looming and Memphis is losing ground in the Western Conference playoff chase after an optimistic start to 2018-19.

At Wednesday’s shootaround, Conley told reporters that Grizzlies owner Robert Pera told him Tuesday that the team has placed he and Gasol on the trading block. Gasol declined to share details of his conversations with the Grizzlies owner, saying he considers those private. Both players have spent their entire careers with the Grizzlies, with Gasol in his 11th season and Conley in his 12th.

Gasol initially made a quick exit from shootaround, per David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, but then agreed to talk.

“My relationship with the Grizzlies might change, but my relationship with Memphis won’t,” Gasol said. “What I feel inside and how I feel about Memphis and its people has nothing to do with a franchise or a temporary thing. It’s not going to change.”

When asked about the possibility of playing his whole career in Memphis, Gasol said: “Does it feel like it’s up to me right now? No. So why even think about it. It’s irrelevant. You go out there and do your job. That’s plain and simple. I don’t want anyone to use this as an excuse not to do so.”

Conley said he heard from Pera last night about the trade talk and is trying to do what he can to help Memphis as long as he’s around.

“It’s where we’re at, I guess. It’s part of the business. It’s not like we’ve been traded yet or anything like that. It’s part of it,” Conley said, per Omari Sankofa II of The Athletic. “We knew the way things have been going the last few weeks that anything can happen. From here on, it’s about coming to work, continually trying to do things I can to help this team.

“I hadn’t been paying attention at all, actually [to any recent trade talk]. Robert [Pera] called me yesterday just to make me aware that they were going to go about doing this. … I almost got traded my rookie year or my second year in the league. It’s not new to me, it’s just been a while. It’s all part of the business.”

Gasol expressed frustration Wednesday that Conley was even being included in trade talks.

“I don’t understand why Mike is in those talks either,” Gasol said. “Mike is one heck of a player, and we’re going to need good players moving forward. I don’t understand why Mike is in this.”

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Gasol and Conley recently met with Pera in Memphis, but neither expressed a desire to be dealt.

Memphis began the season well, boasting a 12-5 mark after a road win against the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 21 — a victory sealed by a pair of Gasol free throws with 0.7 seconds left. Since then, the Grizzlies have swooned, going 7-23 and falling to 14th in the West.

The Grizzlies have lost five straight and are 1-9 in their last 10 games. During the five-game skid, opponents have shot 42 percent from 3-point range and the Grizzlies have allowed 117.6 points per 100 possessions. Memphis hosts the Charlotte Hornets tonight (8 ET, NBA League Pass) to start a five-game home stand that lasts through Jan. 30.

Gasol can become a free agent this summer if he opts out of the final year of his current contract. Conley has an early-termination option for 2020-21 and, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, has $22.4 million of his $34.5 million salary guaranteed. The balance of the deal will become fully protected once he plays in 55 games (Conley has played in 46 games so far).

Conley and Gasol rank No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in games played for Memphis (Conley is at 764, Gasol 762). They are also either No. 1 or No. 2 in several other all-time Grizzlies categories including points scored (Gasol leads with 11,554), assists (Conley, 4,341), steals (Conley, 1,129), rebounds (Gasol, 5,877) and blocks (Gasol, 1,132).

The pair guided Memphis’ greatest era of success, which included seven straight playoff appearances (2010-17) and the franchise’s only appearance in the Western Conference finals (2013).

“When I signed back a couple years ago, that’s a thought that goes through your head that, ‘man, I could play in the same place for 14 or 15 years,” Conley said. “That’d be awesome, and hopefully retire one day as a Grizzly. You also understand that in three, four years a lot can happen and a lot can change. Memphis is all I know. This is my home. I love everybody here and my teammates and the organization. I don’t know any better. This is new grounds for me, so we’ll just see how it plays out.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.