Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley says he got his man with Conley deal

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Most of us have been pretty dumbfounded by the Mike Conley five-year extension by the Grizzlies.

Grizzlies’ owner Michael Heisley is good with it. He got the man he and his coach wanted, as he told FanHouse.

“If you go back and look at Mike Conley the last month of last year, he really came alive,” Heisley said. “When we drafted him, he was a very, very good defensive point guard in the league putting pressure on the guy with the ball. And I think he’s been much more cautious. I think he’s finally coming into his own. I think we now have the player we drafted. I would have liked to have had him two years ago, but we didn’t.

“Lionel Hollins (the Memphis coach), who was a point guard (on 1977 champion Portland and played in the 1980 and 1982 Finals with Philadelphia), basically has told me over and over and over again that Conley is going to be a good point guard, one of the better point guards in this league. That why we’ve got confidence. If you had to go up to somebody and ask them whether a guy’s going to be good point guard in this league, it helps that the guy that’s telling you was (an NBA champion with three overall Finals appearances).”

Again, you’re taking some better play at the end of last season and three games this season over more than two-and-a-half years of mediocrity. Maybe he has turned a corner. But if so, he’s a restricted free agent and you can sign him for what the market will bear. I can assure you, right now there is not a great market for Conley, not at the price he was just paid. Not at five years. It’s not that the player is awful, he’s okay, it’s the money and years given him were out of line with his production. This is the second guy the Grizzlies have paid on potential (Rudy Gay is the other) and those are big — and in this case unnecessary — risks.

But the owner and coach are happy, and they are the ones that have to live with it. Well, them and the suffering Memphis fans.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.