Storyline: Mike Conley Free Agency

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Our guys signing long-term deals will tell you everything you need to know: Marc signed a deal to stay in Memphis because he knew we had work to get done. Tony and Zach are staying, too. They’re here for the long-term. It says a lot about our chemistry. Teams like this aren’t built overnight. That’s why I’m coming back to Memphis. Not just for a year or two. I signed a five-year deal because we’ve just barely scratched the surface on the things we’re planning to accomplish. I guess Damon Stoudamire had been right all along. Nothing is given to you in this league. You’re going to have to fight for it.

There are those who wonder whether it makes sense to pay Conley north of $130 million for five years. I understand that, I really do. But the market has changed in the NBA. Nearly every contract — with the exception of those given to Kevin Durant and LeBron James — will look slightly crazy this year. Beyond that, the Grizzlies don’t have any great alternative. They have no history of attracting high-profile free agents. It’s not like they’re going to be giving the money to somebody else. So they will pay Conley whatever they have to pay him, and try to fill in around him with the rest of their cap room.

The Mavs, according to sources, remain interested in keeping Parsons if they aren’t able to persuade Conley and/or Whiteside to come to Dallas. However, the Mavs have made it clear to Parsons that they do not intend to offer him a max contract to keep him after his first two seasons in Dallas ended prematurely because of surgeries on his right knee. A max contract for Parsons with the Mavs, who own his early Bird rights, would be worth $98.4 million over four years. Other teams can offer him $94.1 million over four years.

The narrative all season around Conley was that he was staying in Memphis. However, sources close to Conley’s camp said recently that Conley is more open to new situations than anyone in Memphis would be comfortable with. The narrative from those sources is that Conley is concerned that the Grizzlies cannot add enough to the roster to get them seriously into championship status and if that does not happen, he’s not willing to tie his career to Memphis in the long-term.

David Aldridge: Memphis has not traditionally been a destination for free agents. I read where you didn’t really like recruiting when you were an assistant in college. How do you reconcile those two issues now that you’re one of the key faces of the Grizz franchise? David Fizdale: Ask Mike Conley if he’s being recruited. I didn’t say I wasn’t good at it. There’s a difference. The hard part that I didn’t like about recruiting in college was, there was so many regulations. So many rules. It was so many layers to it in the recruiting that I just got fed up with it. I was like, here I am kissing some 17-year-old’s butt, he’s my fourth option, but I have to keep him on the line because I’m at some small mid-major, or a mid-major. I’m just waiting to see who takes my other guys. I just got to the point … after about five years, I said I want to coach the best of the best. It finally hit me. I want to coach the best talent and see what could come of that, what that would feel like. And I was lucky. I landed in Miami with the best. I don’t know how that worked out, but I knew that’s what I wanted to do, and it worked out.

Brian Geltzeiler: Not for nothing but with Hornacek’s comments about NY’s point guard situation, it didn’t sound like he was counting on Wroten at all. Smart. – Rob: 2 ACL surgeries… I think they are gonna push for MikeConley… Can see Mike Conley and Kristaps Porzingis in same scenarios that made Goran Dragic/Channing Frye work. – Brian Geltzeiler: Was told by Rob Fischer (@thefishnation) yesterday that Mike Conley is north of 90% to stay in Memphis...

David Fizdale on his confidence that Conley will re-sign, and whether they’ve talked: “I’ve spoken to Mike Conley. We had a fantastic conversation, a very energized, open conversation and an honest conversation. He’s going to get sick of me, because I’m going to follow him. I’m going to just follow him everywhere he goes. I’m going to hound him and teach him and collaborate with him and make him feel a part of this thing in a way that only a guy like D-Wade can feel, in Miami. That’s my approach with him. I see him being a big part of this thing for a long time.”

It could be weeks before the Spurs know whether Duncan and Ginobili will return for a 20th and 15th season, respectively. It’s also uncertain what the Spurs will do in free agency. They’ve been linked to Durant and Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, but salary-cap space would have to be cleared for the Spurs to be major players again in free agency, meaning some core players would have to be traded. No matter what happens, Parker suggests that, in the end, how far the Spurs advance in any season is entirely up to the “basketball gods.” “Look at Oklahoma City,” Parker said. “Last year, they had all the injuries and bad luck, but this year the basketball gods went their way. Every tough play, every big basket, they made it.

NBA sources said the only free-agent point guard who would be a difference-maker is Mike Conley. He led the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio and will be the top priority for several teams, including the Knicks and his own Grizzlies. Memphis can offer Conley more than $100 million, and GM Chris Wallace guaranteed they would re-sign him. But Conley’s odds of bolting Memphis could be increased by the Saturday firing of Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger and reports of Wallace’s potential departure.

After the Heat, without Wade, scored 115 points against Atlanta in its first game after the All-Star break, Wade got up and gave a “speech” to teammates the next day, Dragic said. The message? According to Dragic, Wade “said: ‘We want to play like last game. Play your game. I am going to adapt, don’t worry about that.’” Dragic’s play has made it far less likely that Miami would trade him this summer and try to sign Mike Conley. If Miami continues playing this well without Bosh, the question is inevitable: Shouldn’t having Bosh make this team substantially better than it was in the first half of the season?

Penny Hardaway on Mike Conley’s future in Memphis: “It’s not really about the money, it’s about ‘This is his team.’ The franchise has definitely told him ‘Hey, we’re behind you, we’d trade everyone else…’ They even traded Kyle Lowry, and Kyle Lowry is playing great. He’s an All-Star now. They traded everybody to keep Mike happy. They letting Mike know ‘This is your team, and we want you to be the future’. Mike probably will stay with them.”

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December 15, 2017 | 10:05 pm EST Update