Mike Conley

Jazz Preparing Three-Year Offer For Mike Conley

The Jazz will be “pressing hard” to re-sign point guard Mike Conley in free agency next week and are preparing an offer that’s expected to be in the range of $75MM over three years, according to veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein (Twitter link).

Multiple reports this week have stated that Utah is considered likely to re-sign Conley, who is the team’s top priority in free agency. There was an expectation that the Jazz may have to shed some salary in order to comfortably re-sign Conley, since they would’ve been in line for a massive luxury tax bill if they’d brought him back at a reasonable rate without making any other roster moves.

Utah has indeed lined up a deal to dump a contract, having reportedly agreed to trade Derrick Favors to Oklahoma City, which is another signal that the club is confident about its chances of re-signing Conley.

Conley, 33, had an up-and-down first year in Utah in 2019/20, but bounced back this past season, averaging 16.2 PPG, 6.0 APG, and 3.5 RPG with a .444/.412/.852 shooting line in 51 games (29.4 MPG). He earned his first All-Star appearance in his 14th NBA season.

If Conley returns to Utah, it’ll take one of this year’s top free agents off the board, but there will still be plenty of intriguing point guards available for teams looking for upgrades at the position, including Kyle Lowry, Spencer Dinwiddie, and RFA Lonzo Ball.

Jazz Considered Likely To Re-Sign Mike Conley

Free agent point guard Mike Conley is likely to return to the Jazz, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic, though Jones cautions that the price tag “won’t be cheap.”

The report comes on the heels of a pair of similar stories from Tuesday. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst wrote that league executives believe Conley is most likely to remain in Utah, while Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said there’s a “strong belief” around the league that the Jazz will be able to shed some salary and make Conley a substantial offer.

The Mavericks have been cited repeatedly as one team expected to show interest in Conley, but their focus is said to be more on Kyle Lowry, which perhaps reflects their belief that Lowry will be more attainable.

As we outlined in our preview of Utah’s offseason, the team is already on the hook for nearly $130MM in guaranteed salary for nine players. Even if Conley is willing to take a pay cut after earning $34.5MM last season, a reasonable deal for him (perhaps in the neighborhood of $20MM+ per year) would push the Jazz way into luxury tax territory.

Virtually all of Utah’s biggest contracts belong to productive rotation players, so if the club wants to trim salary, it may come at the cost of a regular contributor. The Jazz have reportedly explored trades involving Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, and Derrick Favors.

Multiple reports have suggested the team could end up attaching this year’s No. 30 pick to Favors in a cost-cutting deal. Since Favors’ contract (two years, $20MM) isn’t especially unwieldy, it’s possible Utah could get a less expensive rotation player back in such a deal, though that’s just my speculation.

Here are a few more notes on the Jazz:

  • Sources tell Jones that the Jazz remain high on second-year shooting guard Elijah Hughes and believe he could play his way into the team’s 2021/22 rotation. The team likes what he brings to the table offensively and will be looking for him to show defensive improvement in Summer League play, per Jones.
  • Miles McBride, Ayo Dosunmu, and Nah’Shon Hyland are among the guards the Jazz like as possible targets if they keep the No. 30 pick, says Jones.
  • If Utah trades the No. 30 pick and remains in the draft, moving up is unlikely, but a move down is a possibility, according to Jones, who says there are multiple players the team likes in the second round. One potential second-round target would be Iowa’s Joe Wieskamp, Jones adds.

Point Guard Rumors: Paul, Conley, Lowry, Dinwiddie, More

After watching Chris Paul play a key role in turning the Suns into a legit title contender in 2020/21, teams around the NBA are weighing whether they might be able to replicate that success by adding a veteran guard such as Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, or Paul himself this summer, writes ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. Those three point guards will be free agents and will headline a talented group that also includes Lonzo Ball, Spencer Dinwiddie, Dennis Schröder, and Derrick Rose, among others.

According to both Windhorst and Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, there’s a belief around the NBA that the Jazz will be able to re-sign Conley this offseason, even if they have to shed some salary to comfortably do so. However, they’ll face competition for the point guard. Windhorst and Fischer identify the Mavericks as one team expected to be in the hunt for Conley.

As for Paul, he has indicated he’s prepared to turn down his $44MM+ player option for 2021/22, but it’s possible that’s a leverage play, writes Windhorst. If the Suns and Paul are interested in continuing their relationship, a scenario in which CP3 picks up his player option and then signs an extension at a lesser rate may be in both sides’ best interest. If Paul does opt out and seeks a new team, he’ll be limited by the Over-38 rule to a three-year contract.

Here are a few more notes on the point guard free agent market:

  • Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer confirms a Miami Herald report that stated Kyle Lowry is expected to be seeking a three-year, $90MM contract in free agency.
  • The Knicks will be among Lowry’s suitors and are willing to offer him somewhere between $20-30MM per year for two seasons, according to Pompey, who says that Spencer Dinwiddie and swingman Evan Fournier are among New York’s other potential targets. Dinwiddie is thought to be seeking $25MM annually, while Fournier is after $18MM per year, says Pompey. I’m skeptical that Dinwiddie, especially, will achieve that goal.
  • Dinwiddie is viewed as a likely Plan B for the Pelicans if they’re unable to land Lowry, according to Fischer. As Windhorst notes, current New Orleans GM Trajan Langdon previously worked in Brooklyn’s front office during Dinwiddie’s time with the Nets.
  • League executives believe the Pelicans are willing to let Lonzo Ball go if they find another option they like or if Ball receives an aggressive offer sheet, writes Windhorst.
  • Bulls head coach Billy Donovan, who had success with Dennis Schröder in Oklahoma City, is thought to be interested in a potential reunion with the Lakers guard, according to Windhorst.
  • Timberwolves veteran Ricky Rubio is among the point guards whose names have been floated on the trade market so far, per Windhorst.

Woj’s Latest: Kawhi, Simmons, Schröder, Kings, Lowry, Nets, More

There’s no indication that Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard wants to leave Los Angeles as a free agent this offseason, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said in Sunday’s televised Woj & Lowe special (video link). However, there is a belief that Leonard is at risk of missing the entire 2021/22 season following his ACL surgery earlier this month, says Wojnarowski.

That nugget was one of several that Wojnarowski and fellow ESPN reporter Zach Lowe shared during their half-hour special and the bonus YouTube segments that followed. We’ve already passed along several of their other insights, including some draft-related rumors, the latest updates on Bradley Beal‘s status, and the fact that the Lakers have shopped Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to many teams around the NBA.

However, the ESPN duo dropped several more notes and rumors during their special. We’re using the space below to round up a few of the most interesting ones:

  • The Sixers have engaged in Ben Simmons trade talks and are making and receiving offers, says Wojnarowski (video link). However, Woj thinks Philadelphia will be patient, noting that Simmons is under contract for four more years, which “opens up the landscape” for possible trade partners. The 76ers are looking for the best possible player they could get back in a Simmons deal, Woj adds.
  • Despite the fact that the Lakers have been linked to so many other point guards in advance of free agency, Wojnarowski believes there’s still a deal to be made with Dennis Schröder (video link).
  • The Kings have talked to teams in both the West and East about Buddy Hield, according to Wojnarowski (video link), who says the club has also received plenty of trade interest in Harrison Barnes. Woj would be surprised if Barnes is dealt though.
  • In a discussion of free agent point guards, Wojnarowski (video link) said that he anticipates a “big market” for Raptors star Kyle Lowry, who could receive offers in the neighborhood of $25-30MM per year, and that the Bulls and Lonzo Ball would be an ideal match in a perfect world, but his restricted FA status could complicate matters. Woj also thinks luxury tax concerns will prevent the Jazz from simply re-signing Mike Conley and keeping everyone else on their roster (video link).
  • The Nets hope to lock up Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden to contract extensions and are optimistic that Blake Griffin will want to return, per Wojnarowski (video link). Jeff Green may be trickier to re-sign, however, as he’ll likely seek more than the veteran’s minimum. Woj and Lowe both identify the Bucks as a possible suitor for Green if he leaves Brooklyn.

Jazz To Do Everything Possible To Bring Back Conley

The Jazz are in a tough position with their point guard situation, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. Mike Conley is coming off his first ever All-Star season, officially breaking his stretch as this generation’s best player without an All-Star appearance, and because of the team’s salary situation, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to replace him in the starting lineup should he walk in free agency.

2021/22 is the official start of Donovan Mitchell‘s five-year maximum extension, which will pay him approximately $28.1MM next season. Rudy Gobert is also starting a five-year, $205MM contract extension, and Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, and Derrick Favors are all under long-term deals worth $8MM annually or more. Joe Ingles is also on a one-year extension that leaves the team with a $13MM cap hit.

All of those factors combine to make it almost impossible for the team to replace the unrestricted Conley with an equivalent player on the open market if he should accept a deal with another team.

To make things more complicated, the 33-year-old has been hampered by injuries during his time in Utah, playing just 98 of the team’s 144 regular season games, and 11 of the team’s 18 playoff games. Concerns about Conley’s durability are well-founded, and may come into play on the open market, but the Jazz can’t afford to let such questions deter them.

According to Jones’ sources, the Jazz are without question determined to bring Conley back and will make “every attempt” to re-sign him.

One thing the Jazz may have to consider, writes Jones, is bringing in another point guard if and when Conley misses time with injury. Preserving Conley for the playoffs will be paramount as the team continues to seek answers in their quest to go from regular season powerhouse to true playoff contender.

Jazz Notes: Lindsey, Conley, Ingles, Niang

In the wake of Friday’s season-ending loss to the Clippers, Jazz executive VP of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey promises to be “brutally honest” about the steps the team needs to take to reach the next level, tweets Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Speaking today at a media session, Lindsey said the organization has the ability to be “honest with ourselves” and will examine why it did and didn’t have opportunities to make a longer playoff run.

Utah posted the league’s best regular season record at 52-20 and coasted past Memphis in five games in the first round. The Jazz beat L.A. in the first two games of the conference semifinals, but then dropped four straight.

“The blueprint of trying to go from good to great is hard and complicated, but that’s what we strive for,” general manager Justin Zanik told reporters. “… You have to have some good fortune, too. For the large part of six to seven months, we were healthy. It caught up to us.” (Twitter link)

There’s more on the Jazz:

  • Lindsey said the organization appreciates Mike Conley‘s return to the court Friday after missing the first five games of the series with a strained right hamstring (Twitter link). He added that the team never puts pressure on anyone to try to play through injuries. Conley estimated he was about 50-60% for Friday’s game and said he had difficulty moving (Twitter link). He will be a free agent this summer and expressed an interest in returning to Utah, according to John Coon of The Associated Press.“(This is) actually my first time being a real free agent, so it will be interesting,” Conley said. “But I did love it here. We’ll see what happens.”
  • Entering the final year of his contract, Joe Ingles could be a trade chip for the Jazz to improve their perimeter defense, Coon adds. Ingles, who is preparing to represent Australia in the Olympics, doesn’t believe the team has to make major changes. “I don’t think we need to blow the whole roster up and start from scratch,” he said. “But maybe a few key pieces.” (Twitter link)
  • Forward Georges Niang will also be a free agent this summer, and like Conley, he said he would like to remain with the Jazz. (Twitter link). “My heart is in Utah, they helped me be a man,” he said. “I’ll be a free agent for the first time, so we’ll see what happens.”

Jazz Notes: Conley, Mitchell, Gobert, Toughness

Jazz All-Star point guard Mike Conley made his first appearance in the second-round series against the Clippers in Game 6. Conley admitted after the Jazz were eliminated on Friday that he was far from 100% due his hamstring tightness, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets.

“Initially, I was told I wasn’t going to be able to play at all this series, just last Friday,” Conley said. “This maybe being the last game of the season, I had to give it a try. But I couldn’t move well. It was a tough night.”

Conley, an unrestricted free agent this summer, scored just five points on 1-for-8 shooting and committed six turnovers in the 131-119 loss.

We have more on the Jazz:

  • Conley’s backcourt partner, Donovan Mitchell, was also a game-time decision due to an ankle injury. Mitchell poured in 39 points and nine assists but his 40-minute stint was painful in more ways than one, Walden tweets“It (bleeping) hurt. Just tried to play through it. … I was just trying to find a way, by any means necessary,” he said.
  • Losing the last four games of the series and squandering a 25-point lead in Game 6 will haunt Mitchell, Walden adds in another tweet. “I’m still in shock. … I don’t know what I’m going to be doing next week,” he said. “Probably watching the games, mad as hell. This hurts more than last year. This is going to eat at me for a long time.” However, Mitchell isn’t blaming the coaching staff for the collapse, according to Walden (Twitter link). “The coaches made great adjustments. And we just didn’t execute,” he said. “That’s on the players on the floor.”
  • Rudy Gobert believes the tougher team won the series, Walden relays (Twitter link). “They were the tougher team over the course of the series, more connected over the course of the series,” he said of the Clippers. “For us, it’s pretty much the story of our season. For us to take another step in the playoffs, a lot of things are gonna have to be better.”
  • Picking up on Gobert’s theme, Tony Jones of The Athletic opines that the Jazz are probably not near a championship-level team despite having the league’s best record. Playing without Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers turned up the intensity in the second half of Game 6 and the Jazz failed to match their physicality and got out-hustled.

Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell Will Start In Game 6

8:40pm: Mitchell and Conley are starting Game 6, according to lineups posted by the Clippers’ PR department.

11:05am: With their season on the line in tonight’s Game 6, Jazz point guard Mike Conley is “working toward a return to the lineup,” tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Backcourt partner Donovan Mitchell will be a game-time decision, Woj adds.

Conley has missed the first five games of the series with a strained right hamstring that he suffered in the close-out game against the Grizzlies. He had originally hoped to return for Game 3, but he re-injured the hamstring, which set back his recovery timetable. Conley is coming off his first All-Star season and averaged 16.2 points and 6.0 assists per game during the year.

Mitchell is dealing with a sprained right ankle that forced him to miss the last 16 games of the regular season, along with Utah’s playoff opener. He was in obvious pain during Game 5, shooting just 6-of-19 from the field, and admitted afterward that the ankle is limiting what he can do on the court.

If the Jazz win tonight, they will host Game 7 on Sunday.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Playoff Edition

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. With the playoffs in full swing, we take a look at players on teams still alive in the postseason:

Lou Williams, Hawks, 34, PG/SG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $24MM deal in 2018

When the Clippers and Hawks swapped veteran point guards at the trade deadline, the general consensus was that Los Angeles pulled off a coup landing Rajon Rondo. It doesn’t look that way right now. Rondo has only played nine minutes in the last four games against Utah, while Williams had 15 points, three assists and two steals in 23 minutes during Atlanta’s dramatic Game 5 comeback at Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Williams may not possess Rondo’s leadership qualities, but he’s been instant offense for many seasons wherever he’s played. The 34-year-old has been in the league since 2005 but he can stick around a few more seasons due to his offensive prowess.

Jeff Green, Nets, 34, PF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2020

It’s amazing to think that the Jazz had no use for Green midway through last season and put him on waivers. The Rockets scooped him up and he was highly productive. He’s doing the same thing for the Nets. After a solid regular season, Green battled a foot injury that sidelined him for six postseason games. Back in action, Green delivered a monster performance in Game 5 against Milwaukee, firing in 27 points while draining 7-of-8 3-point attempts. Green won’t have any trouble finding work as an unrestricted free agent this summer, whether he re-signs with Brooklyn or joins another contender.

Reggie Jackson, Clippers, 31, PG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.33MM deal in 2020

A TNT broadcaster called Jackson “Mr. June” as he made several clutch baskets in Game 5 at Utah on Wednesday. He’s not on the level of baseball’s “Mr. October” but this Reggie Jackson is proving to be a consistent playoff performer for the Clippers. He averaged 15.4 PPG against Dallas in the opening round, including a 25-point outing in Game 6. He scored 29 points in Game 2 and 22 in Game 5 against the Jazz. Jackson has also kept his turnovers down to a minimum. After having to settle for the veteran’s minimum in free agency last year, he’s due for a substantial raise when he enters the market again this summer.

Mike Conley, Jazz, 33, PG (Down) – Signed to a five-year, $152.6MM deal in 2016

Conley finally got his first taste of the All-Star Game this season. He got off to an impressive start in these playoffs, scoring 20 or more points in the first three games against Memphis. The injury bug soon bit him as Utah closed out the series and he’s been sidelined with a hamstring strain throughout the second round. That’s the main concern with Conley as he enters unrestricted free agency – he’s had numerous leg injuries in recent seasons. That could limit the amount of years teams will be willing to offer him.

Jazz Notes: Mitchell, Conley, Gobert, Game 5

After a Game 5 loss to the Clippers Wednesday night, Jazz star Donovan Mitchell admitted his right ankle has become more painful throughout the series, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Utah is on the verge of elimination after letting a critical game slip away at home, and Mitchell wasn’t able to play his normal style. He finished with 21 points, his lowest scoring total of the postseason, and made just 6-of-19 shots from the field.

“It’s something I’m going to have to deal with,” Mitchell told reporters after the game. “… I ain’t got nothing else to say. Like, it’s tough when you’re trying different things that you normally do and you see spots you can get to, but you can’t, so you got to find a way to make it happen. It’s tough, but I got to find a way. Otherwise, I’m going to be home.”

Mitchell, who had a string of six straight 30-point games before Wednesday, is still feeling the effects of an ankle sprain that caused him to miss the final 16 games of the regular season and the playoff opener against Memphis. He  said he has aggravated the injury several times during the series with the Clippers.

“For most of my life, I’ve been able to push by, explode by, and jump through people or over people, and for the first time in my career, I’ve had to play on the floor,” Mitchell said. “Knowing when to attack, picking my spots, finding my teammates, I think that’s the biggest thing, being able to kind of get off, hit them when they’re doubling me and engaging the blitz. And I think I did a solid job of that. I can do better. It’s a learning process and it sucks that I’m learning this through the playoffs, but it is what it is and no excuses.”

There’s more from Utah:

  • Mike Conley had “a small setback” in his recovery from a strained right hamstring, but he still hopes to return before the series ends, according to Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Conley, who was hurt in the final game of the first round, said he had been preparing to play in Game 3, but he re-injured the hamstring before that could happen. “This is why it’s been extended a bit longer than I know we all would like. Obviously, if I could play, I would — there’s no question about that,” Conley said. “But the progress we’re making now is really good. It’s just a little delayed.”
  • The Jazz have been relying on their skill level all season, but it will take grittiness to win in Los Angeles and return home for a Game 7, states Tony Jones of The Athletic. Rudy Gobert suggested that his team got too relaxed after a fast start Wednesday. “I didn’t feel like there was a sense of urgency for us defensively at the beginning of the game,” he said. “In a way, I wish we hadn’t made so many shots. Then, we would have thought about playing better defensively. We let them get comfortable. And when we let a team this good get comfortable, you put yourself in a tough position either way.”
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer examines how Mitchell has been able to turn himself into a dangerous three-point shooter and what it means for his game going forward.