Brooklyn Nets: Caution Necessary With Mike Conley


There’s no secret that a number of teams across the NBA began counting down the days to the free agent frenzy of 2016 before the 2015 calendar year even kicked off.

Other than the recent phenomenon affectionately known as “tanking,” it’s likely the worst-kept secret around the league.

One of the recognizable names amongst those slated to hit the open market next year is Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, who recently discussed the type of relationship he had with former coach Lionel Hollins, who is in his first season at the helm for the Brooklyn Nets.

“Well, to be honest, it was tough, first off,” Conley told ESPN’s Scoop Jackson of the organization’s decision not to re-sign Hollins in 2013. “It was tough to see Lionel go. He was like a second father figure almost for me.”

Though Conley went on to exude confidence in Hollins’ replacement, Dave Joerger, he continued to display a certain sense of loyalty to Hollins by stating the team should “try not to forget about Lionel, never forget about him, but use what he taught us and apply it to what Joerger is teaching us going forward and keep this thing moving.”

Conley had nothing but wonderful words to share about Hollins, but in no way does that insinuate Conley wants to sign with the Nets if he doesn’t sign an extension prior to next summer and Hollins is still in Brooklyn.

But if those two factors don’t change down the line, in theory, Conley would be a nice fit for the Nets. He’s clearly a big supporter of Hollins and his system, and in eight NBA seasons Conley has proven to be a very formidable starting point guard, posting averages of 13.4 points, 5.6 assists. 2.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game.

In fact, Conley’s even outperformed a few of these career averages this season. Other than slight dips in assist and steal production – from 5.6 to 5.3 and 1.6 to 1.3, respectively – Conley has been good for 16.3 points and 3.2 rebounds over the course of 2014-2015.

But something about the prospect of signing Conley incites a certain fear within me, and it’s directly related to the man he would likely replace in the event that Brooklyn were to bring him aboard, Deron Williams.

Conley doesn’t carry the label of elite point guard the way Williams did when the Nets traded for him back in 2011, but the sour taste Williams has left in the organization’s mouth as a result of all his injuries and less than stellar seasons since being acquired could place the Nets on a quest for redemption when seeking to land his successor.

Unfortunately for Brooklyn, other teams could be willing to overpay Conley for his services by giving him close to top-flight point guard money. There’s no doubt Conley’s solid at his position, but he’s far off from necessitating the ultra-big bucks.

And if Hollins has as much faith in Conley as Conley has in him, it’s possible that Hollins could persuade the front office he’s worth what other teams are willing to throw him. Just like that, the Nets could instantly have another overpaid point guard dilemma on their hands.

Of course, this is all just speculation at this point. Yet, it’s something to at least keep in mind as the days to 2016’s free agency sweepstakes continue to be counted down.