Southwest Notes: Conley, Rockets, Pelicans, Gasol

When Mike Conley signed a five-year mega-deal with the Grizzlies last summer, making him the NBA’s highest-paid player, the deal was met with some backlash. However, as Conley tells ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, it wasn’t the first time that NBA fans and observers had questioned whether he was worth the investment — his initial four-year extension with Memphis received the same kind of scrutiny.

“The first go-round prepared me for the same type of situation, where I knew that it would take a lot of backlash and there would be a lot of people who don’t know who I am,” said the Grizzlies point guard. “Never heard of me or whatever. Now all of a sudden this guy is paid more than everybody else. So I just prepared myself and took it as a challenge, just took it as an opportunity, to use it and be the best player I can be. … It does take a special mentality to be able to understand and handle the moment, handle the situation. It could eat a lot of people up. I try to stay in the positive. In the now. I think of all the work that all the sacrifice that took me to the position to [have] this opportunity. That validates my contract for me.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • The Rockets aren’t active in trade talks, and even though GM Daryl Morey never sits still, the team is more likely to do something minor than major, if it makes a move at all, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Kyler also weighed in on the Pelicans, tweeting that Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, who are eligible for free agency this summer, are worth keeping an eye on as the trade deadline nears.
  • Pau Gasol has made six All-Star teams in his career, and has played in the NBA’s last two midseason exhibitions, but he knew when he signed with the Spurs that he’d likely be forgoing individual accolades in favor of team success, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. “I didn’t come here with that type of mindset,” Gasol said of his All-Star streak.
  • Rockets big man Clint Capela, sidelined with a fractured left fibula, has made significant progress and remains on track to return within a four-to-six week window, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Capela is scheduled to be examined again next week.
  • There are a couple of health-related notes out of Memphis as well, as Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports (via Twitter) that there’s still no timetable for Brandan Wright‘s return. Rookie big man Deyonta Davis, on the other hand, has made an early recovery from a foot injury that sidelined him in December — he was active on Wednesday night and available to play for the Grizzlies, though he didn’t see any action.

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