Every Grizzlies fan biggest fear right now is Mike Conley signing with another team. Just thinking about it makes my stomach turn. He’s very valuable to the franchise, and leaving would set the franchise back tremendously. “Clutch” Conley has had a phenomenal nine year career in Memphis. The 6’1”, 175 pound point guard was drafted out of Ohio State in 2007, and since then has averaged 13.6 points per game in his career. In 2015-16, before getting injured, he averaged 15.3 points per game with 6.1 assists per game.
Now, the illustrious point guard is up for grabs. He denied to sign an extension with Memphis and decided to test the free agency market for the first time in his career. He thinks it’s fun, but us Grizzlies fans are scared half to death. We should chill, though. Here’s six reasons why Conley will obviously sign with Memphis when it’s all said and done.
1. Memphis is where he has been, and always will be.
It’s no doubt that his starting role in Memphis is pretty much cemented in stone. He has had a productive career in Memphis and that’s what was expected of him when he was drafted. However, if he decides to leave the Grizzlies and land with another team, let’s say the Spurs for example, wouldn’t he just be hurting his career? We know he will have a much better chance at seeing the NBA Finals in San Antonio, and there’s nothing more valuable than learning under Coach Popovich, but the chances of him actually starting somewhere on the Spurs roster isn’t as likely as it is in Memphis. Another hot team to land him is the Indiana Pacers. But, they have George Hill. If Conley wants to be a starter and actually have legitimate contribution, Memphis is the destination.
2. He has a good relationship with Marc Gasol and others.
Marc Gasol, along with Mike Conley, is a key player for the Grizzlies’ franchise. There’s a strong connection between the two players. When Gasol and Conley is on the court together, they make up for atleast 30% of the team’s points, if the Grizzlies score 100. So it’s safe to say without one, the Grizzlies are losing a significant amount of points on the scoreboard. Mike Conley most likely will not flourish on any other roster without Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Tony Allen around him. He has some special connections in Memphis, and leaving would force him to rebuild connections with other teammates.
3. The Memphis Grizzlies will most likely pay the market value for Conley
In case you haven’t realized, Mike Conley is an important part of the Grizzlies roster. So, I think I can safely bet that Memphis will pay whatever Conley is worth. If a team like the Spurs outbid whatever Memphis offer, you can expect Memphis’ General Manager Chris Wallace to match the offer and land Conley with ease. They want Conley in Memphis, and Conley wants to be there too. Speaking of that…
4. Memphis made their loyalty to Conley clear.
G.M Wallace said that they are “Undefeated in re-signing our core players, and we will remain so,” following that with, “We are going to re-sign Mike Conley.” Pretty confident, huh? Last off season, they easily retained Marc Gasol and signed him to a monster $110 million deal. Wallace stated that, “If you look back at the five years since the tide has turned for this franchise, we have re-signed every core player for the Memphis Grizzlies.” His confidence makes you think Conley has already told him he would come back to the Grind City.
5. Grizzlies aren’t too far from becoming contenders themselves.
A lot of people will tell you the reason why Conley decided to test free agency is because he wants to be on a team contending for a Championship. Well, I’ll tell you this: the Grizzlies aren’t too far from that. Just because they had an injury-plagued season followed by being swept by the Spurs in the playoffs doesn’t mean the Grizzlies are a bottom tier team in rebuilding mode. This is the same team that, a season ago, nearly swept Damian Lilliard and the Trail Blazers and was two wins away from a Western Conference Finals appearance. By leaving, Conley would be leaving a situation where he is a starter for a team on the rise, to a situation where he’s a backup to some other guy on another team. Why would anyone want a demotion?
6. He was a key part in keeping Gasol around.
Conley aggressively recruited his good friend Marc Gasol to Memphis when Gasol hit free agency last off season. 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.” It worked, because Gasol said “Mike [being in Memphis] was big. I will go through any type of wall for that guy.” But, will Marc Gasol do the same? “No, those are the decisions you make on your own,” Gasol said. “I’m going to let him do the same thing. I’m going to work my butt off though so he thinks this is the right place for him.” But, why would Conley heavily recruit Gasol if he doesn’t plan on staying?
These are all key reasons why we shouldn’t be afraid of Conley in free agency. He will be back in Memphis no doubt. If he does leave though, Memphis will have some work to do.
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