Mike Conley is traveling with the Grizzlies on their road trip and is hoping to return to action soon, according to Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Conley, who has missed 23 games with an aching left Achilles and heel, appears to have made significant progress in his rehab program, Tillery notes after watching his pre-game workouts.
Conley and the Grizzlies haven’t commented on a possible return date. The team issued its last medical update December 18, saying Conley would be out at least two more weeks. Tillery expects further news to be announced Monday or Tuesday. After a strong start to the season, Memphis has collapsed without Conley, going 4-19 to tumble into the Western Conference basement.
There’s more today from the Southwest Division:
- Josh McRoberts is getting closer to making his debut with the Mavericks, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Acquired from the Heat in an offseason trade, McRoberts has been sidelined with a lower extremity injury. There was hope that he might be able to play tonight against the Thunder, but he has been declared inactive, tweets Earl K. Sneed. With McRoberts returning and Nerlens Noel expected back from thumb surgery in early to mid-January, the Mavericks will again have an abundance of big men that will likely be resolved by a trade before the February 8 deadline.
- Regardless of whatever else happens this season, the Mavericks are confident they have a building block for the future in Dennis Smith Jr. The rookie point guard has been everything Dallas expected when it made him the No. 9 pick in this year’s draft, although coach Rick Carlisle said he still needs to learn how to be a leader at the NBA level. “We drafted him because we think he can be a great player, one of the best players to ever play in a Mavericks’ uniform, on the one hand,” Carlisle said. “On the other hand, the things that are really essential to winning and are very nuanced aren’t screaming out to the world the way a triple-double is. And he’s understanding that. It’s a huge step.”
- Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry told reporters not to read too much into his decision to leave Rajon Rondo on the bench during the fourth quarter of Friday’s loss to Dallas, relays Christian Boutwell of The Journal Times. Gentry opted for veteran backup Jameer Nelson, but that probably won’t be the start of a trend. “It had nothing to do with Rondo, or the way he was playing or anything like that,” Gentry said. “It was just coach’s instinct.”