1:15pm: Conley could “minimally miss approximately six weeks,” but the timeline for his recovery isn’t entirely clear, per Wojnarowski. Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com (Twitter link) hears that the point guard will likely miss six to eight weeks, which is similar to the timetable reported by Wallace (noted below).
12:52pm: The NBA’s highest-paid player has played his last game of 2016, according to Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com, who tweets that Mike Conley is expected to be sidelined for six weeks with fractures in his lower back. Wallace adds that Conley, who suffered the injury on Monday, will be re-evaluated a month from now.
Conley left Monday night’s game against the Hornets with what the team called a lower back injury. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter), the specific ailment is a transverse process fracture in the vertebrae. Wallace compared the injury to one suffered by Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, tweeting that Conley likely won’t require surgery, but will need rest and recovery to heal the fractures.
Conley, 29, signed a five-year deal worth in excess of $150MM this summer, the largest contract in NBA history. He has responded by producing a career-high 19.2 PPG to go along with 5.7 APG in the early going this season. That scoring average is buoyed by outstanding three-point shooting — he has made 2.5 threes per game so far, at a 46.7% clip.
With Conley sidelined, backup point guard Andrew Harrison appears poised to assume a larger role in the Grizzlies’ rotation for the next several weeks. First-round rookie Wade Baldwin, who has averaged 15.6 MPG in 11 contests so far, may also be relied on for more minutes. The team could make a roster move to add more depth at the position, but currently its 15-man roster is full.
While the Grizzlies expect Conley to make a full recovery, the injury is the latest setback for the 2016 Grizzlies, who have been plagued by health problems during the last calendar year — the team finished the 2015/16 season extremely shorthanded, and has seen Chandler Parsons, James Ennis, and a handful of other players battle injuries already this season.