The Mike Conley era in Memphis may have ended today. As the Grizzlies closed their season with a Game 4 loss to the Spurs, the clock officially began ticking toward Conley’s free agency on July 1st.
The nine-year veteran has spent his entire career in Memphis after being drafted fourth overall in 2007. Conley developed into one of the top point guards in the game, averaging 13.6 points and 5.6 assists over his career and turning the Grizzlies into a perennial playoff team. However, Conley’s season was cut short by Achilles tendinitis that kept him out of action since March 6th. He appeared in just 56 games, the fewest since his rookie season.
Conley is expected to be the most sought-after point guard on the free agent market this summer, and teams like the Knicks and Nets are already rumored to be suitors. The Bucks, Pacers and Rockets are three other franchises with point guard issues and likely enough cap room to offer a maximum deal.
Memphis has several advantages when it comes to keeping Conley at home. The Grizzlies own his Bird rights and can offer more money and more years than any competitor. There’s also the matter of loyalty, as Conley seems to have strong ties with the community and a good relationship with teammates Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, who have formed the heart of the “Grit ‘N’ Grind” era. “I’ve never seen anything different,” Conley recently told Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal in response to a question about staying in Memphis.
However, Conley may have some concerns about the Grizzlies, who are rapidly becoming an old team. Gasol is 31. Randolph and Allen are both 34. Matt Barnes is 36, Chris Andersen is 37 and Vince Carter is 39. Age likely played a role in the physical breakdown that forced Memphis to use 28 players this season. Conley, who is just 28, has to decide if he wants to commit the rest of his prime to a team on which his best teammates are over 30.
That brings us to tonight’s question: Where do you think Conley will be playing next season? Will the combination of loyalty and dollars be enough to keep him in Memphis? Or will he opt for a fresh start with a younger, healthier team that has a better shot at an NBA title?
Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.