Despite missing the latter part of last season due to injury, Mike Conley is probably the most coveted point guard in free agency. The Memphis Grizzlies are hoping to keep him, but the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, and maybe even the San Antonio Spurs and Brooklyn Nets could be in the mix as well.
Conley played in 56 games last season before a left foot injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season, including the playoffs. He averaged 15.3 points and 6.1 assists, with his per minute numbers slightly regressing, but what might be more worrying is his shooting, dropping to 42.2% from the field. While Conley is a good floor manager and good shooter (37.3% career 3-point percentage), his best asset is his defense, although somehow he has just one All-Defensive team mention.
Conley made $8 million on average during his five-year deal with the Grizzlies, and is looking for a max contract, but will probably have to settle for less. As good as he is, he’s more valuable in Memphis than anywhere else, and is simply not good enough to have so much of the cap committed to his contract. Conley is also something of an injury risk. Not just the one from last season, but smaller ones that often nag him over the last three seasons.
Conley is giving the Grizzlies the chance to put in the last word, but after last year’s injury crisis and overall unclarity about the direction of the franchise, he’s probably going to try and see if Memphis are adding some names to the team before signing with them. Conley knows he has time, as most teams are waiting to see what happens with Kevin Durant before moving forward, while big men like Al Horford and Hassan Whiteside might be a bigger priority, despite the direction the league is taking.
Conley isn’t the only point guard on the market: Rajon Rondo, for all of his flaws, is out there, and has been connected with the Nets. Maybe a bigger “problem” for Conley is Jeremy Lin, considered as the favorite to play for the Nets next season, while also being linked to the Mavericks and to a lesser degree, the Spurs. Teams looking to push the tempo might prefer someone other than Conley, who has played on Grizzlies teams that are usually ranked at the bottom of the pace charts, finishing 27th in that category last season.
The Mavericks do have an opening at point guard and Conley might be a very good fit there, but there are also plenty of questions when it comes to how the roster will look, as Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons opted out of their deals. The Rockets? D’Antoni is all about quick pace, and point guards who love the ball in their hands (Conley isn’t a control freak, but he isn’t great off the ball) should be wary of playing next to James Harden.