Mike Conley

Mike Conley Opting In With Jazz For 2020/21

Jazz point guard Mike Conley won’t exercise the early termination option on his contract for the 2020/21 season, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).

Unlike a standard player option, an early termination option must be exercised in order for the player to reach free agency immediately — as its name suggests, it ends the contract early. By waiving that ETO, Conley is essentially opting into the final year of his contract in ’20/21. He’ll earn a $34.5MM salary next season before becoming a free agent in 2021.

Conley’s decision doesn’t come as a surprise. Following a somewhat up-and-down first year in Utah in 2019/20, the 33-year-old was unlikely to come anywhere close to matching his $34.5MM salary if he had opted for free agency and signed a new deal — especially with the NBA’s salary cap remaining flat at $109MM.

After 12 seasons with the Grizzlies, Conley was sent from Memphis to Utah last summer. He averaged 14.4 PPG, 4.4 APG, and 3.2 RPG with a .409/.375/.827 shooting line in 47 games (29.0 MPG) for the Jazz. The veteran guard got more consistent and found his footing as the season went on, recording 19.8 PPG and 5.2 APG on .484/.529/.864 shooting in five postseason contests.

With Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert all locked up for next season and Bojan Bogdanovic expected to be back following wrist surgery, the Jazz will be looking to make a deeper playoff run in 2021. The team is expected to focus on bolstering its wing defense this offseason, as well as possibly extending both Mitchell and Gobert.

Accounting for Conley’s substantial cap hit, Utah is now an over-the-cap team, with approximately $112MM in guaranteed money committed to eight players. Even after adding the cap hold for their first-round pick and multiple non-guaranteed salaries to that figure, the Jazz should have the flexibility to use their full mid-level exception and/or re-sign Jordan Clarkson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Northwest Notes: Conley, D. Jones, Anthony, Thunder

Jazz guard Mike Conley isn’t expected to exercise an early termination option on his $34.5MM salary for next season, but Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune suggests that he and the team could both benefit if he did. Walden notes that Conley could opt out and sign a new deal that would give him similar money in the long term while offering Utah some immediate cap flexibility.

If Conley plays out his current deal, he will be a 33-year-old unrestricted free agent next offseason and Walden estimates he can expect three-year offers in the $35MM to $40MM range. The Jazz could combine that with his current deal by offering $70MM to $75MM over four years.

That takes away any worry of an injury that could reduce Conley’s value and it cuts his 2020/21 cap figure in half, bringing it down to about $17-$19MM. That could allow Utah to use Bird Rights to re-sign Jordan Clarkson and add players with its mid-level and biannual exceptions without going into tax territory.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Adding free agent forward Derrick Jones Jr. is an easy way for the Trail Blazers to improve their defense, writes Jason Quick of The Athletic. Jones is only 23 and has proven to be an excellent defender who can block shots and switch on pick and rolls. Several teams will likely have their eyes on him, so Quick believes Portland should be willing to offer its entire mid-level exception of roughly $9MM if that’s what it takes to land him.
  • Carmelo Anthony is looking at a reduced role on a healthier Trail Blazers team next season and will probably search for a better opportunity in free agency, Quick adds in the same piece. Anthony saw a lot of minutes before the hiatus at power forward in place of Zach Collins, who was recovering from shoulder surgery. In Orlando, he filled in at small forward for Trevor Ariza, who opted out of the restart. They’re both expected to be in training camp, along with Rodney Hood, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon last December.
  • Joe Musatto of The Oklahoman evaluates potential Thunder coaches Darvin Ham and Wes Unseld Jr. in a pair of stories.

Western Notes: McGee, Jokic, Conley, Pelicans

The Lakers could be without their starting center for Game 3 against the Rockets on Tuesday, according to the latest injury report on NBA.com. JaVale McGee is listed as questionable with a left ankle sprain. Reserve shooting guard Dion Waiters is considered doubtful due to a sore left groin.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is listed as questionable for Game 3 tonight against the Clippers due to a sprained right wrist, according to an ESPN report. Jokic had 26 points and 18 rebounds in the Nuggets’ Game 2 win on Saturday. The Nuggets made no mention of the sprain after the game. The Nuggets will make a final determination on his status after warmups, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets.
  • The Jazz hope that Mike Conley settles in after a choppy first season with the organization and that will result in a longer playoff run, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. Conley is expected to opt into the final year of his contract, worth $34.5MM, for next season. The point guard will be more comfortable in his second year with the club after learning a new system and reworking his game to fit the Jazz’s style, Todd adds.
  • The Pelicans could use a defensive wing and another shooter. The Athletic’s William Guillory explores some of the draft prospects who might fit the bill with the No. 13 overall pick.

Mike Conley To Play In Game 3

2:30pm: It has been confirmed that Conley will be available for today’s pivotal third game of the Nuggets-Jazz quarterfinals playoff series, per Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link).

9:48am: The Jazz will have point guard Mike Conley back in their lineup for today’s playoff game with the Nuggets, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. He is in the process of clearing quarantine and is expected to be ready for tipoff.

Conley left the Disney World campus on Sunday to be present for the birth of his son in Columbus, Ohio. He returned late Monday, giving him just enough time to complete his quarantine requirements by today.

Utah gained a split in its two games without Conley, dropping an overtime decision in Monday’s opener, then bouncing back with a 19-point win on Wednesday. Conley averaged 18.0 points and 5.0 assists in six seeding games, and his presence could give the Jazz an advantage for the rest of the series.

Mike Conley Probable To Play In Game 3

The Jazz have listed starting point guard Mike Conley as probable to play in Game 3 vs. Denver on Friday, tweets Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune.

Conley, who briefly left the NBA’s campus earlier in the week for the birth of his child, returned on Tuesday and began his four-day quarantine. Although he won’t technically be in quarantine for a full 96 hours, it sounds like there’s optimism that he’ll return four negative coronavirus tests – one per day – before Game 3 gets underway on Friday afternoon.

The Jazz split the first two games of their matchup with the Nuggets, falling on Monday in an overtime nail-biter before picking up a resounding 19-point victory on Wednesday. While Utah will still be missing Bojan Bogdanovic, getting Conley back in the lineup should give the team a slightly healthier rotation than the Nuggets, who are without Gary Harris and Will Barton.

Conley had an up-and-down first season in Utah, but has been productive since arriving at Disney World for the summer restart. In six seeding games, he averaged 18.0 PPG and 5.0 APG, knocking down 37.2% of his three-point attempts.

Mike Conley Returns To NBA Campus

Jazz point guard Mike Conley has returned to the NBA’s campus at Walt Disney World, the team confirmed today (Twitter link via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN). Conley had left over the weekend to attend the birth of his son in Ohio.

Conley missed the first game of Utah’s first-round series against Denver – an overtime loss – and will be quarantining through at least Game 2 on Wednesday. However, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link) that there’s optimism the point guard could clear his quarantine in time for Game 3 on Friday.

The NBA’s protocols call for a quarantine period of at least four days when a player leaves the Disney campus. Game 3 of the Jazz/Nuggets series will be getting underway in a little over 75 hours, so Woj’s report suggests that Conley’s quarantine period may cover parts of four days, rather than a full 96 hours.

If Conley can return to the Jazz’s lineup for Game 3, it would give the club a major boost in its matchup with Denver. The longtime Grizzlies point guard had an up-and-down first season in Utah, but has been productive since arriving at Disney World for the summer restart. In six seeding games, he averaged 18.0 PPG and 5.0 APG, while knocking down 37.2% of his three-point attempts.

Mike Conley Leaves Disney World Campus

Jazz guard Mike Conley has left the team to travel to Columbus, Ohio, for his son’s birth, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. A source tells Eric Woodyard of ESPN that Conley plans to return to be part of the team’s playoff run (Twitter link).

There’s no definite word on how long Conley will be away, but with Utah’s series against Denver starting tomorrow, he will miss the first two games for sure and probably the first three, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link). The Jazz and Nuggets will play every other day until the series is over.

The NBA typically requires players who leave the campus for personal reasons to quarantine for at least four days when they return.

Conley averaged 14.4 points and 4.4 assists per game in his first season with Utah after spending 12 years in Memphis.

Injury Updates: Porzingis, Jazz, Warren, Clippers, More

The results of the four seeding games today involving the Grizzlies, Trail Blazers, Spurs, and Suns will determine which teams participate in the play-in tournament for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot this weekend. And no absence from those games looms larger than Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s — as we relayed on Wednesday, the Bucks star has been suspended for the team’s showdown against Memphis on Thursday, which should improve the Grizzlies’ chance of earning a win and a play-in spot.

Antetokounmpo isn’t the only notable player who will be sitting out one of those four games though. According to the NBA’s official injury report, the Mavericks are listing Kristaps Porzingis (left heel contusion) as doubtful for the team’s afternoon contests against the Suns. Meanwhile, the Jazz will be without Mike Conley (right knee soreness) and Rudy Gobert (lower back soreness) against the Spurs this evening.

None of those ailments are expected to compromise those players’ availability for the postseason, but they could help influence which team ends up qualifying for that final playoff spot in the West.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Pacers forward T.J. Warren sat out Wednesday with what head coach Nate McMillan referred to after the game as plantar fasciitis, the same injury that has sidelined teammate Domantas Sabonis. However, according to J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link), McMillan clarified that Warren has been able to play through the issue throughout the season, and a source tells ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link) that it isn’t expected to prevent Warren from being ready for the postseason, so it sounds as if it’s not as severe as Sabonis’ injury.
  • Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said on Wednesday that he’s hopeful Patrick Beverley (calf) and Landry Shamet (foot) will be in position to return for the start of the playoffs (Twitter link via Jovan Buha of The Athletic). Beverley has been out for the club’s last four games, while Shamet sat on Wednesday.
  • Despite a report indicating that the Nuggets are hoping Gary Harris (hip) and Will Barton (knee) can play on Friday, head coach Michael Malone hasn’t projected much optimism about either player’s availability, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post.
  • Suns center Aron Baynes, who hasn’t played yet during the restart, will be available on Thursday, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. However, Baynes likely won’t play much – if at all – based on how hot the team has been without him, Gambadoro notes.

Jazz Stars Sitting Out Friday’s Game With Spurs

The Jazz will play the Spurs on Friday but they will look like a totally different team. They’ll go without all of their star players due to injury or, in one case, rest, according to an ESPN report.

The starting backcourt of Donovan Mitchell (left peroneal strain) and Mike Conley (right knee soreness) will sit out, as will center Rudy Gobert. Coach Quin Snyder is resting his defensive stalwart in the first game of a back-to-back. Utah plays Denver on Saturday.

Another key player, forward Royce O’Neale (right calf soreness), is also taking the night off, as well as guard Nigel Williams-Goss (left ankle sprain).

None of the injuries appear to be long-term, so it’s quite possible most or all of those players could return for the Denver game. The Nuggets have been playing shorthanded during the restart and are missing four starters — Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton and Paul Millsap — in their game against Portland on Thursday.

Utah is trying to hold onto the fourth seed in the Western Conference and is also within striking distance of the third-place Nuggets.

Western Notes: Carmelo, Bol, Conley, Hagedorn

Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony has slimmed down in anticipation of playing more often at small forward during the restart, according to Royce Young of ESPN. Anthony has mainly played power forward in recent seasons but with big men Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins returning from injuries, Anthony is making an adjustment by shedding weight.

“I kind of challenged myself to get down to that weight where I feel comfortable with playing the 3, comfortable running around and utilizing things I can do within our system from playing the 3,” the Trail Blazers forward said. “That was a big motivation for me to come back at that exact weight, or around that weight, 230, 235. I haven’t seen 230, 235 since early, early in my career.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets rookie center Bol Bol could make his NBA debut during the team’s seeding games, Mike Singer of The Denver Post speculates. Numerous Denver regulars have yet to practice in Orlando. Bol will participate in three upcoming scrimmages and then might see action in the seeding games, mostly out of necessity. Bol has impressed during practices in Orlando, Singer adds.
  • Mike Conley has endured some rough patches during his first season with the Jazz but the veteran point guard feels like he’s settled in, Tony Jones of The Athletic notes. “It feels like I’ve played a full season already,” Conley said. “I’ve had a chance to build chemistry with my coaches and with my teammates. I haven’t had any questions about plays or my role. I have a clear picture on what to expect.”
  • South Dakota forward Tyler Hagedorn has been interviewed by the Timberwolves, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. Hagedorn isn’t listed among ESPN’s top 100 prospects but the 6’10” Hagedorn did shoot 51.4% from long range as a senior.