So what about that situation? That team? There are many in Memphis that refuse to believe Conley could go anywhere. He was instrumental in recruiting Marc Gasol to return last summer and there are those that believe he would never have pushed so hard if he was planning on exiting a year later. “Me and Marc, he knows if I call him two times in two weeks and he is in Spain, that’s a lot,” Conley said. “That’s something very important to me. I stayed in contact, checking in on him. When it came down to it, I told him ‘We’re not going anywhere if you’re not here.’ I hoped he would make the right decision, and he did.” Said Gasol, “Mike [being in Memphis] was big. I will go through any type of wall for that guy.”
Storyline: Mike Conley Free Agency
Make no mistake: Conley doesn’t feel indebted to Memphis, to Gasol. He loves the city, loves the fans, loves his teammates, but he knows what this game is all about. Players are pawns, and when opportunities to take some control come up, you have to take them. “It’s easy to feel obligated; it’s easy to want to stay,” Conley said. “This is where I’ve had my whole career. At the same time I understand this is a business. I have to weigh my options just like [Gasol] did. Hopefully it will be an easy decision, whatever it is.”
Q: Why did your game seem a little off to start the season? Marc Gasol: When you’re not playing basketball for practically five months, it definitely changes your rhythm. I worked out from June through September. But it’s different working out in a weight room and actually doing stuff on the court. It’s a totally different game. You feel a lot better going into the preseason when you’ve been playing. You’re in basketball shape. But it’s a decision that I made. Of course, I knew I was going to be a little rusty as far as basketball goes. But the other problems I had throughout last year are better. My ankles are better … my knees, my back are better. My neck got jammed but that’s a hit. It happens in basketball.
Q: Is it possible that you could have worked out with the Spanish team and not played as much? Marc Gasol: I don’t know how to do things halfway. I really don’t know how to do that. When I commit to something, I fully commit. The competitive nature that I have will not allow me to do that. I decided not to be there. I went the first day of training camp to see (my Spanish teammates) and wish them luck, and have dinner with the guys. I didn’t go around after that. First of all, I was jealous. I understand how fortunate we are to play this game and to do the things that we do. To be able not to do it was tough. It wasn’t easy. Like I said, I knew coming in I’d be out of rhythm, especially with my shot. My timing was off and stuff like that.