If whoever is running the money train with the Memphis Grizzlies fails to open the bank vault and offer Mike Conley a fifth-year, maxed-out contract, the nine-year veteran will probably change uniforms next week.
And the talented point guard just might be wearing a uniform owned by the Dallas Mavericks.
Conley has spent his entire nine-year career in Memphis. He played most of the 2015 second-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors while wearing a protective mask due to a nasty facial fracture and a banged-up eye.
I’m no optometrist, but I wouldn’t recommend that at all.
But that was Conley’s way of showing the Grizzlies that he’s all-in with them. Now it’s the Grizzlies’ turn to show Conley that they’re all-in with him.
If not: Hello, Dallas-Fort Worth. Meet your new starting point guard.
If the Grizzlies don’t offer a fifth year to Mike Conley, he may feel disrespected and want to cut off all ties before things get really ugly.
The Mavericks will be the first team to meet with Conley during free agency. The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder is a pass-first playmaker who has the uncanny ability to run the offense, get his own shots and play heady defense.
The Mavericks and other teams not named Memphis can offer Conley a four-year contract worth about $113 million. If they include a fifth year, the Grizzlies can offer Conley a five-year contract worth approximately $152 million.
Conley does have familiarity in Memphis in that he and a core group, which includes Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Tony Allen, have advanced to the playoffs every year since the 2010-2011 season.
But if the Grizzlies don’t offer a fifth year to Conley, he may feel disrespected and want to cut off all ties before things get really ugly.
And if things get really ugly, Conley could mention that he’s having second thoughts about the stability of the Grizzlies. After all, this is the franchise that wouldn’t meet coach Lionel Hollins’ contract demands after he led them to their one and only berth in the Western Conference Finals in 2013.
Point guard Mike Conley will be 29 on Oct. 11. And the clock is ticking on his obtaining his first — and perhaps his last — big-money, five-year contract.
It’s also the franchise that recently hired a new coach in former Miami Heat assistant David Fizdale, who is now the lowest-paid head coach in the NBA.
So, the Grizzlies pinched pennies when hiring a new coach. Do they want to pinch pennies with one of the best players to wear a Grizzlies uniform?
Conley will be 29 on Oct. 11. And the clock is ticking on his obtaining his first — and perhaps his last — big-money, five-year contract.
This also could be Conley’s only chance at a contract in the $150 million range. And by keeping his nose clean and working hard and putting the Grizzlies’ franchise first, he feels he deserves it.
But if the Grizzlies don’t feel that way, Conley could just say, “Nice doing business with you, I’ll see you when I see you.”
Sometimes the business of the NBA can be cutthroat. Players don’t receive what they believe they deserve, and the franchise doesn’t receive what it seems as a favorable contract.
It’s business. Ugly and downright nasty at times, especially when big money and reputations are on the line.
In short, if the Grizzlies fail to meet Conley’s demands, that’s a bonus for the Mavericks, who are also favored to swoop in and win the Hassan Whiteside Sweepstakes.
Put Mike Conley and Hassan Whiteside with Dirk Nowitzki and Wesley Matthews, and the fifth starter — a small forward to replace the long-gone Chandler Parsons — will probably beat down the Mavericks’ door begging to be a part of this franchise.