As the Jazz kicked off training camp and media day this week, one of the more interesting storylines approaching this season is that surrounding Mike Conley.
Conley is one of the few players left from the prior era of the Utah Jazz. It’s strange to think that he is now the longest-tenured Jazz player in Salt Lake City, with just three seasons spent here. Conley is an interesting piece of this Jazz team going forward. He is one of the players that could be traded at any given second. Well, I guess technically speaking, any player on the Jazz could be traded at any given second and it might not really shock anyone. But given Conley’s experience in the league, his salary, some rumors, and other things - being traded is something surrounding his name pretty much every day.
At media day he talked about this with reporters, and seemed to be pretty open and honest about it.
Mike Conley: I signed here to compete and have a chance to win a championship. But I know my family loves it in Utah so I have to weigh that. If a trade does come up during the year I won’t shut the door on that. But I’m ten toes down here until the Jazz tell me I’m not— Tony Jones (@Tjonesonthenba) September 26, 2022
“I think last year, just a portion of the year, I didn’t play to my standard or what I felt my team needed from me. But I think [this year] is an opportunity to just go out and show what I’m still capable of doing,” he said.
Conley says he’s conflicted about the possibility of being traded. If he is moved, he says his family will likely stay in Salt Lake City for the season, so his wife and kids can have a full school year here with their friends. So a trade might mean a more competitive situation, but also means he’d be away from loved ones.
From Mike’s perspective, you can understand that he’s in a bit of an awkward situation. The Jazz have actively shopped him around, and you’d think that a contending team, or one close to it, would want Conley’s experience and veteran leadership. He’s set to make almost $23M this upcoming season, which might be a bit too much for some teams to take on.
As it stands right now, Conley is a member of the Utah Jazz. Assuming that he stays in Utah, what will his role be this upcoming season? The Jazz traded for point guard Collin Sexton, who appears to be as Jazzed as anyone to be here. Sexton will probably be one of the most exciting players to watch this season, and will most likely become a fan-favorite very quickly. Will Sexton be the starting point guard, and Conley come off the bench? Or will they send out yet another undersized backcourt with Conley and Sexton playing 1 and 2 interchangeably, similar to what we saw with Donovan Mitchell? According to basketball reference, Sexton played the point guard position 100% of his minutes in years 1 and 2 of his career in Cleveland. After the Cavs drafted Darius Garland and made him the starting point guard, Sexton played most of his minutes at the shooting guard position. Will that be what we see out of him this season?
Collin Sexton notes that he's developed a relationship with Mike Conley already, that he's been learning schemes from him and picking his brain. "He's been playing for a long, long time."— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) September 26, 2022
Mike Conley will turn 35 in a few weeks. On a roster full of youth and young legs, it would be hard to imagine his minutes not taking a significant decrease this season, especially assuming the Jazz are not hoping to win very many games. How does that shape his role this season? Is he going to be the guy that’s on and off nursing injuries all season, but is great for the “vibes” and helping the younger guys develop? Or will he be similar to we’ve seen the last few seasons, playing at an elite level as long as healthy?
It’s going to be an interesting thing to watch as the season starts and as we progress throughout the year.