For the first three years of his career, Mike Conley has been a nice point guard, but not one who lived up to his lofty draft status and not one who looked like the future at the one in Memphis.
Through this preseason and three games that count he has looked much better as a playmaker and leader.
So that is worth $45 million to Memphis.
The Grizzlies and Conley reached a deal just before the extension deadline to keep Conley a member of the Grizzlies for five more years at $45 million, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard.
This move, combined with the max deal given Rudy Gay this summer, make Gay and Conley the future of the Grizzlies. They now have $20 million or more a season locked up in these two for the next four years at least (until Gay can opt out). Learn to love it Grizzlies fans. These are your guys.
Conley started to be more aggressive near the end of last season and so far this season has been doing a better job setting up teammates and running the pick-and-roll. In his first three seasons with the Grizzlies he looked like a backup, last season scoring 12 points a game on 45 percent shooting and getting five assists a game. Nice, but not thrilling. This season so far he has looked like a starter — 15 points, eight assists and nearly four steals a game. Jerry West said recently this is what he expected out of Conley.
Still, is that enough to lock him down for the next five years? A month ago these two sides were not even talking. If they did not sign him Conley would have become a restricted free agent at the end of the season and Memphis would have had the right to match any offer. And with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and the past three years, it is highly unlikely Conley gets an offer anywhere near this level on the open market. The Grizzlies were bidding against themselves and went big.
Conley is their man. They believe in him. They had better hope that the start of this season is not an aberration because now they are married to him for a while.
Joel Embiid upgrades himself from 69% to 81%: ‘Shoutout to Jalen Rose’
The Celtics established themselves as one of the NBA’s elite teams, a contender for the Eastern Conference title, during their 16-game win streak.
However, that hot streak to start the season will matter as much as Thanksgiving leftovers in the back of the refrigerator in April by the time the playoffs roll around. This is a team that still has work to do.
“There’s still a lot to accomplish going forward,” Irving said. “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”
This team still needs to get better and more consistent. The Celtics had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in eight of the 16 wins, and while the team defense was impressive the offense still can be hit and miss. Al Horford and Kyrie Irving play well off each other, but this is still the 20th ranked offense in the NBA. They are taking more long midrange jumpers than most coaches want, but the bigger challenge is they have not been finishing around the basket.
Titles are not won in November. Irving gets that. Jayson Tatum will hit the rookie wall at some point (they all do) and he needs to prove he can break through. Al Horford is playing maybe the best ball of his career and needs to keep it up. The Celtics need to keep their defensive focus (the fundamentals are there to have a top five defense). I could go on but you get the point, and so does Irving — there is a lot of work for this team to do.
Boston is off to a fantastic start, but it’s just that.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: I’ve never seen injury like Kawhi Leonard’s
He’s the NBA’s most experienced active head coach. Before that, he was the Spurs’ general manager. Before that, he was an NBA assistant. Before that, he was a college head coach and assistant. Before that, he was a college player. Before that, he was a youth player.
The San Antonio coach has seen everything.
Except the right quadriceps tendinopathy suffered by Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich said more than a week would return “sooner rather than later.” Yet, Leonard still hasn’t played this season.
“Never, never,” Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. “What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”
“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said jokingly. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”
The 26-year-old Leonard is one of the NBA’s biggest on-court stars. He might be the league’s best defender, and he has built himself into an offensive force. The Spurs (11-7) have fared fine without him so far, but they’ll need him to accomplish their main goals – this year and beyond.
Hopefully, Leonard’s health is better than it sounds here, because Popovich’s answer sure isn’t encouraging.
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