by Griffin Gamble
July is halfway through, and that means NBA free agency is right around the corner. A huge list of players are set to become free agents on August 2, 2021. That is including 33-year-old Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley. Back in 2016, Conley signed the five-year $152.6 million contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. Although five years sounds like quite a lengthy contract, it has already come to end which means both the Jazz and Conley have tough decisions to make regarding their respective futures.
Although Conley has mentioned a few times his desire to to stay with the Utah Jazz, there are some potential teams that could step in and make his decision more complicated. Conley has proven to fit in with the Utah Jazz organization very well as he made his first NBA All-Star Game in the 2020-2021 season. If it wasn’t for his injury during the playoffs, most people think the Jazz would have made a legitimate run to the NBA Final. The problem the Utah Jazz have is that Donovan Mitchell’s contract kicks in next year where he will now be making $28 million. Rudy Gobert will also be making $34 million. Conley won’t be able to make $34 million in a season again. The Jazz especially can’t offer him that much. However, that doesn’t mean other teams can’t outbid the Jazz to get him.
The New York Knicks seem to be a rumored destination for every talented free agent and it never happens. However, Conley would be a perfect fit for the Knicks. They struggled so mightily with point guard play this year that they started Elfrid Payton for the first couple games in their series against the Atlanta Hawks. After poor play, they had to completely bench him and rely on sixth man Derrick Rose. Conley would certainly help them with consistent backcourt play. If the Knicks can throw a big contract his way then anything is possible.
Another team that could definitely use the play of a veteran guard like Conley are the Boston Celtics. The Celtics just traded away Kemba Walker to the OKC Thunder after their disappointing season ended with a 4-1 series loss to the Brooklyn Nets. The Celtics had hoped Kemba Walker would bring playmaking and shot creation, but it simply did not work.
With the new front office and coaching changes, the Celtics desperately need a veteran point guard to run the show. However, this would have to be a sign-and-trade deal as the Boston Celtics don’t have the required cap space to take on Conley’s expected contract.
The Los Angeles Lakers are another interesting team to watch out for in this year’s free agency. Their season ended due to injuries and facing a hot Phoenix Suns team in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Lakers are expected to move on from Dennis Schroder after his inconsistent play. A team in need of a veteran point guard with experience could have them in the market for Conley, and it might be hard to turn down Los Angeles and playing with LeBron James.
Mountain Mike Forever
In the end, the Jazz hope to keep Conley around for the right price. The Jazz won’t be able to afford another massive contract if that is what Conley is hoping for. The hard truth is he is aging and has struggled to stay on the court. When speaking about free agency, Conley hasn’t had much to say.
Jazz fans can only hope Conley sees the potential this team has when healthy and comes back at a discount to bring a championship to Utah.
Featured image courtesy the Athletic