The Knicks may dream of adding point guard Mike Conley in free agency, but it won’t be easy to sell him on leaving Memphis, writes Anthony Rieber of Newsday. Conley sparked the hopes of fans in New York and other cities with a comment that “everything will be on the table” when he becomes a free agent this summer. But the hurdles for the Knicks are much higher than that statement makes them appear. Start with finances. The Grizzlies can offer Conley a five-year max deal starting at a projected $25MM with annual raises up to 7.5%. Other teams can match $25MM for the first year, but are limited to four-year deals with 4.5% increases.
Then there’s the matter of loyalty. Conley has been with Memphis for his entire nine-year career and has strong ties to the organization. In New York for a game Friday, Conley denied having a “pact” with Marc Gasol to stay in Memphis, but suggested his free agency could go the same way his teammate’s did last summer. “We’ve grown up together in this league, me and Marc, and with the Grizzlies,” he said. “We don’t know anything different. So just like he did last year, it’s something I’m going to wait and talk about later, because at the end of the day, it is a business and anything can happen. But obviously, they know how I feel about Marc and my teammates here.”
There’s more news out of New York:
- Conley would be a nice solution for the Knicks if they don’t trade for Atlanta’s Jeff Teague first, according to George Willis of The New York Post. He notes that point guard has been a problem area in New York for a couple of decades and says first-round pick Jerian Grant has been a disappointment so far.
- Knicks president Phil Jackson is doing a disservice to coach Derek Fisher by not talking to the media, contends Marc Berman of The New York Post. Jackson hasn’t made a public comment on the team since late September, leaving Fisher to take the heat for the team’s current 1-8 slide. Berman argues that the Knicks’ failures are the result of Jackson assembling a fragile roster and says the best strategy would be to clear some cap space by the February 18th trade deadline.