HoopsHype Mike Conley rumors

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March 12, 2015 Updates

Full disclosure: I was really against and went public with my feelings about the organization trading Rudy (Gay) and firing Lionel (Hollins). I didn't see where you all were going. It didn't make sense to me the direction the organization was taking. But at this point, I have to say you all have proven me wrong. I don't know where you stood on this, but how did -- and have -- you stay grounded in knowing that everything was going to be cool and that the bottom wasn't going to fall out? Conley Jr.: Well, to be honest, it was tough, first off. It was tough to see Lionel go. He was like a second father figure almost for me. But at the same time, when it was done, it was done. We couldn't take it back; (his firing) happened. (Dave) Joerger is our coach, and the only way for us to continue to get better is to jump over to Joerger's ship and say, "Hey, we're with you. We're behind you 100 percent" and try not to forget about Lionel, never forget about him, but use what he taught us and apply it to what Joerger is teaching us going forward and keep this thing moving. ESPN.com

It's also what's going to allow Memphis to offer Gasol a maximum contract this summer when he becomes a free agent, ensuring that he'll remain a Grizzly and be highly compensated. It's Conley's next deal that becomes tricky. Conley's current deal expires in 2016, which is when the salary cap is expected to explode. That summer, the Grizzlies are looking at several players on the roster to fall off the books, as pivotal role players like Courtney Lee, Beno Udrih and Green (should he opt in this summer) are all unrestricted free agents. Meanwhile, the notable players under contract are their oldest: Randolph (35), Allen (34) and Gasol (31). ESPN.com

However, Conley will be 28, eligible for a long-term deal with a max salary that might start in the mid-$20 million range, and will need to decide where to spend the next three to five years of his career. With numerous teams expected to have ample cap space, it would make sense for Conley to strongly consider all options available, particularly if Memphis hesitates in any way to pony up fair market value for a player who has been underpaid for the majority of his career. ESPN.com

February 24, 2015 Updates
February 12, 2015 Updates
January 29, 2015 Updates
January 22, 2015 Updates

Conley, drafted fourth overall in 2007, arrived to a Grizzlies franchise in disarray. He faced stiff competition at his position and an injury that curtailed his rookie year. He developed so slowly that the organization even considered trading him. In those years, Memphis seemed to draft, trade, or sign a new point guard each season. There was always a fresh face to challenge Conley and possibly take his job. “Back then, I thought my position was up for grabs,” Conley said. “It was an uncertain situation and I thought I could be gone any day.” Grantland

“He would probably be the first to tell you that he wasn’t good enough at that time,” said Damon Stoudamire, a veteran point guard who played in Memphis during Conley’s rookie season. “But you could tell that if he put in the work he was going to be successful. The calmness that he had got him through the rough patches when people were questioning whether he was the type of player [who] warranted getting drafted that high. I don’t think Mike ever wavered in his confidence. That’s the biggest thing, especially in the NBA. You’ve got to be so confident in yourself that nothing can rattle you from the outside, because there’s always going to be people taking shots at you.” Grantland

Lowry and Conley had starkly contrasting approaches to the game. Stoudamire figured that the hard-nosed and aggressive Lowry had spent his life trying to prove himself. Conley, meanwhile, had always been a highly regarded player on highly regarded teams, the type of guy who was comfortable blending in with the talent surrounding him and who was seldom forced into a leading role. “Kyle was a pit bull,” Stoudamire said. “The way he played, the things that he did, it was straightforward. He wanted it all. Mike, I wouldn’t say that he never had a chip on his shoulder, but with the players that he grew up playing with, he never had to be that guy.” Grantland

January 20, 2015 Updates

When Gasol heard that the Grizzlies were on the verge of trading Conley to the Milwaukee Bucks, he reached out to Ron Tillery, who covered the team for the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "I had no idea what I was doing," recalled Gasol. "I said, 'Write this down: We cannot trade Mike Conley. He is the one guy who actually cares about the team, that actually is trying to play the right way.' Well, supposedly a rookie is not supposed to do that. So I got a call from the owner, I got a call from everybody. And rightfully so. Rightfully so. NBA.com

"There were times we came close to trading Mike, because his development was so slow, and thank goodness we didn't," said Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace. "He never ever deviated from who he is. He's someone who is very good with the fans. He's very respectful and courteous, has a smile on his face, and if he does get down you don't see it. There was never any petulance or moodiness when he was young and this wasn't working." NBA.com

Does he have what his teammates need to lead them to the championship? "All my life I've been ranked lower than I thought I should be," Conley would say quietly as he walked slowly past the enlarged black-and-white photographs that detail the achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King. "And I don't care anymore." In print his words may sound bitter and resentful, but on this day, in his company, their meaning was entirely different. Conley was smiling as if liberated. He sounded grateful. NBA.com

"He says there's another level I need to reach," said Conley, who went into his Tony Allen rasp: "He wants me being nasty, to put on a different Mike." He laughed. "He wants me to be in his space, grab his jersey, pound him in his chest, 'Snap out of it!' and all that stuff. I can try, but that's just not me for the most part. I'll slap him against the back of his head once in a while, because that is the only way to get his attention sometimes: You'll be talking to him and he's looking right past you, so you just got to hit him upside the head. Then he's listening to you again." NBA.com

January 16, 2015 Updates

John Denton: With Mike Conley OUT because of a sprained ankle, @Memphis Grizzlies will start Beno Udrih tonight vs. @Orlando Magic Beno played in ORL during 12-13. Twitter @JohnDenton555

January 5, 2015 Updates

Me: One shop question: if you had to make a case to the Western Conference coaches for Mike Conley making the All-Star team, what would it be? Mike Conley: I don't know what I'd say to them. Hopefully I'm doing enough. I don't know what else I have to do. Years past you'd say we're not one of the top teams. But this year, we're one of those teams. I'm pretty much letting my game speak for itself and hopefully they'll take notice. NBA.com

January 4, 2015 Updates
December 18, 2014 Updates

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