Stefan Bondy: Mike Conley asked if there's an agreement…

More on Mike Conley Free Agency

General Manager Chris Wallace declined comment on the prospect of trading, or not trading, any particular player citing the complexities and often rapidly changing environment that exists within the NBA trade market. However, Wallace was willing to give, in no uncertain terms, what the Grizzlies' intentions are as of now regarding Conley. "If you look back at the five years since the tide has turned for this franchise (since the 2011 playoff berth and the start of the "Grit-Grind" era)," Wallace told CBS Sports this week, "we have re-signed every core player for the Memphis Grizzlies."
Gasol, for his part, says the decision "cannot be emotional" for Conley. "He has to stay because he believes it's the best situation for him," Gasol told CBS Sports last week. "That's pretty much what it comes down to. He has to stay because it feels right, not because he feels like he owes me, or the city, or that it's the most comfortable thing to do. He has to stay because he believes in this and he feels like he's in control of what happens here. He's built it, and he's been a huge part of what's happened here, but that has to be why he makes the decision.
"Mike Conley will be our No. 1 priority in free agency," Wallace said about the Grizzlies' starting point guard becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer. Memphis has several expiring contracts with Chalmers, Barnes, Green, and Lee playing on the last year of their deals. Vince Carter can be bought out for $2 million.
Sources have indicated the Knicks and Nets will be all over Conley, as the New York squads are two of the few NBA teams in the market for a top-notch starting point guard.
When Conley officially becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, it’s safe to assume the Knicks will have interest. Conley will seek max or at least near-max money, and considering the shifting financial landscape of the NBA (so many teams with excessive cap space and many others needing to spend money to hit the rising salary floor), he’ll get it from someone. From a Knicks perspective, he seems to check all the boxes: a savvy point guard who is both efficient offensively and solid defensively. He has posted a PER north of 18 in four straight seasons. In contrast, the Knicks have had only one point guard with a PER greater than 18 in the last 25 years (Stephon Marbury).
The Knicks have an overflow of big men to deal as point guard is the roster’s key issue, with the inconsistencies of Jose Calderon and Grant. The Knicks definitely will address that position this summer with their cap space when Memphis point guard Mike Conley and Sacramento’s Rajon Rondo, who torched the Knicks on Thursday, falling one rebound short of a triple-double, are free agents.
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.”
"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."
"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."
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.
Storyline: Mike Conley Free Agency
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