Mike Conley will have up to five outside suitors willing to offer him a maximum-salary contract when free agency opens late tonight, according to Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal, who identifies the Mavericks, Rockets, Pelicans, Nets, and Lakers as the key challengers for the Grizzlies.
However, according to Sam Amick of USA Today (via Twitter), even though the veteran point guard is scheduled to meet with the Mavs on Friday, the Grizzlies remain in “very good position” in the Conley sweepstakes. Amick reports (via Twitter) that Dallas appears to pose the most significant threat to Memphis for Conley, but even that threat may prove to be “a nominal one.” The Rockets, meanwhile, aren’t expected to get a meeting with Conley at all, a source tells Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com.
If the Grizzlies do indeed remain comfortably in the driver’s seat, despite the fact that the Mavericks and other teams are willing to put max offers on the table for Conley, it may be an indication that Memphis is willing to add a fifth year to its offer. Since the Grizzlies hold Conley’s Bird Rights, they’re the only club with the ability to offer a five-year deal, and that fifth year would be worth well over $30MM in the point guard’s age-33 season.
There have also been reports suggesting that Conley wanted assurances from the Grizzlies that they would be aggressive in fortifying the roster around him, in order to remain a contender for the foreseeable future. If he ends up agreeing to re-sign with the team, he likely will have received such assurances.
Assuming Conley and the Grizzlies can work out a deal, the two sides likely won’t finalize anything right away. The team can make better use of its cap room by keeping Conley’s $14MM cap hold on the books, using all its cap space, then going over the cap to lock up Conley.