“I didn’t care much about the process, especially during the year, because there is nothing you can do. You cannot create a problem before the problem comes,” Gasol told Yahoo. “You’ve got to be strong-minded and worry about the things you got to worry about and everything else will take care of itself. I think [Conley] wants to follow what I did last year.”
When Gasol returned to his native Spain last summer, Conley flooded Gasol's inbox with emails and his cellphone with text messages about staying with the team. Gasol's five-year commitment to the Grizzlies had to come with some inclination that Conley planned to make the same decision when he hit free agency a year later. But Gasol said he plans to leave Conley alone this season and won't pester him to stay in Memphis.
"Yeah, but I cannot force him to do anything that he doesn’t feel that is right. He has to do what is right for him, that he believes in it," Gasol told Yahoo Sports. "If you feel forced to do something you don’t believe in, then you’re going to regret it. And whenever he makes his decision, whatever his decision is, he knows our relationship goes way beyond basketball and we’ll always be friends, past this five, 10 years left in our careers. As long as we live, we’re going to be friends. It’s not going to affect our friendship."
Conley helped convince Gasol to sign a new contract keeping the center in Memphis this past summer, and now it's the guard's turn to play with free agency looming next summer. Conley said he plans only to think about this season and will address his contract once the season ends, the same approach Gasol took. Gasol said he and Conley talked about his own future perhaps only twice last season and not once past February.
Forward Zach Randolph said fans shouldn't worry because the Grizzlies have taken care of Conley. "Mike, he's an All-Star ... so I don't worry about Mike," Randolph said. "He's going to focus on this season, have an All-Star season."
Mike Conley will be unrestricted then, but there's not many people who think he's leaving. Depending on the sequencing of events next summer, the Grizzlies could be free agent players with a team still good enough to be an attractive destination. Conley will surely be motivated to increase his market price with another outstanding season, a win-win for him and the team.
November 27, 2022 | 8:51 pm EST Update
Kendra Andrews: Klay Thompson: “Adversity is the best thing for a team. We had that early on. We have a lot of guys who thrive off the naysayers or those who say you cant do something. I think we are hitting our stride, but there is so much basketball left.”
CJ Holmes: Draymond Green on Jonathan Kuminga’s impact in recent games: “It’s beautiful. You felt the impact. I know we’ve 100% felt and seen the impact. And the reality is, what it boils down to is energy, effort and attention to detail when you’re a young guy.”