The trade that sent Mike Conley from Memphis to Utah this offseason was one of the first major deals completed, and got buried under a flurry of free agency news, as All-NBA players like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Paul George, and Russell Westbrook changed teams.
Still, the Jazz‘s acquisition of Conley could ultimately end up being one of the summer’s most impactful moves. Utah has finished in the top five of the Western Conference in consecutive seasons and now has a third standout player to complement defensive anchor Rudy Gobert and up-and-coming star Donovan Mitchell.
Speaking to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, Conley said that he’s excited to play alongside Mitchell in Utah’s backcourt, calling the 22-year-old a “special player” and suggesting that the two guards will help each other alleviate pressure from opposing defenses.
Conley also spoke about several other topics during his conversation with Kennedy, which is worth checking out in full. Here are some of the highlights from the Q&A:
On getting used to no longer being a member of the Grizzlies:
“It’s still an adjustment. Even just hearing people call my name out and saying ‘Mike Conley of the Utah Jazz,’ it doesn’t even equate yet (laughs). I’m still trying to get used to that and waiting for it to become normal. It’s a new beginning, a new journey, a new challenge and I love that. You don’t get blessed with opportunities like this very often. I feel like I’m in a blessed situation to be part of this organization and hopefully do something special while I’m there.”
On his first impressions of Utah:
“The people, the fans, have just been so welcoming. My family and I really enjoyed ourselves in the two or three weeks that we’ve been able to spend there. Everyone is just so excited! The Jazz organization is top-notch in every way. Coach Quin [Snyder] is one of the best out there and we have a really good roster. We have all of those in one bottle, so we have a lot going on and it’s going to be exciting.”
On the Jazz’s goals for 2019/20:
“After talking to Coach Quin, we all realize what the ultimate goal is – and it’s everyone’s ultimate goal – and that’s winning a championship. We know that. Are we going to achieve the daily goals to become a champion? … That’s what it boils down to. I think we’re at the stage where we’re just working and trying to stay humble and stay focused and respect the game. At the end of the day, if we [achieve our daily goals], we have a good enough team, a good enough organization and good enough coaches to give ourselves a chance.”
On whether he’d be interested in coaching after his playing career is over:
“Yeah, I think coaching is kind of the natural progression for me. I think that’s something that I’d definitely enjoy, whether it’s coaching kids at any level or [coaching] all the way up to the NBA. It’s such a passion of mine, this game, and it’s something that I know so much about. And it’s one of those games that you can never figure all the way out, and I think that’s one of the things that I love about it. Hopefully I can continue to give back as much as possible.”