Nov 2, 2010, 1:55 AM EDT
For the first three years of his career, Mike Conley has been a nice point guard, but not one who lived up to his lofty draft status and not one who looked like the future at the one in Memphis.
Through this preseason and three games that count he has looked much better as a playmaker and leader.
So that is worth $45 million to Memphis.
The Grizzlies and Conley reached a deal just before the extension deadline to keep Conley a member of the Grizzlies for five more years at $45 million, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard.
This move, combined with the max deal given Rudy Gay this summer, make Gay and Conley the future of the Grizzlies. They now have $20 million or more a season locked up in these two for the next four years at least (until Gay can opt out). Learn to love it Grizzlies fans. These are your guys.
Conley started to be more aggressive near the end of last season and so far this season has been doing a better job setting up teammates and running the pick-and-roll. In his first three seasons with the Grizzlies he looked like a backup, last season scoring 12 points a game on 45 percent shooting and getting five assists a game. Nice, but not thrilling. This season so far he has looked like a starter — 15 points, eight assists and nearly four steals a game. Jerry West said recently this is what he expected out of Conley.
Still, is that enough to lock him down for the next five years? A month ago these two sides were not even talking. If they did not sign him Conley would have become a restricted free agent at the end of the season and Memphis would have had the right to match any offer. And with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and the past three years, it is highly unlikely Conley gets an offer anywhere near this level on the open market. The Grizzlies were bidding against themselves and went big.
Conley is their man. They believe in him. They had better hope that the start of this season is not an aberration because now they are married to him for a while.