Mike Conley, Jr. was undoubtedly on a lot of NBA general managers’ shopping lists this past offseason, as the 29-year-old would have been a solid addition to any team in need of a competent veteran point guard. Then, the Memphis Grizzlies stunned everyone by offering Conley the largest contract in NBA history, at five years and $153 million. With $26 million this season, Conley is making as much as James Harden, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Al Horford, and they trail only LeBron James, who makes over $30 million in his latest deal with the Cavs.
But as the $153 million man, Conley will be under intense scrutiny every time he takes the court. Fans and analysts alike will be ready to call him the next Gilbert Arenas if he fails to dazzle every time he touches the ball, and that’s evident from the way some fans don’t seem to care about how humble Conley was when he signed his deal, or how he used his press conference to declare that the “violence against police officers and the violence against innocent citizens has to stop,” while calling for everyone to make a change.
Instead, for example, Knicks fans serenaded Conley with the classic “overrated” chant during New York’s 111-104 win over Memphis on Saturday, and everyone lost their minds when Derrick Rose turned Conley into a blooper reel victim.
Keep in mind that he’s still recovering from a nasty Achilles injury, but Conley would bounce back on Sunday with 24 points and 11 assists in the Grizzlies’ 112-103 win over the Wizards. That performance is indicative of his attitude (and wealth) this season, according to the Sporting News, as he knows plenty of people want to see him fail. He also doesn’t care.
“It doesn’t bother me, at all,” he said. “It’s part of it. I’m in a blessed situation. When I hear the talk, when I look on my phone and see messages on Twitter about it, it really pushes me, to be honest. So I know it’s going to come. There’s gonna be a lot of talk about it all season, no question. But it’s already here. I almost look forward to playing on the road, for that very reason.” (Via The Sporting News)
While James will undoubtedly keep making more money than any other player (and probably some small nations) per season, Conley will join the most elite company in his contract’s third, fourth, and fifth years as his salary will pass the $30 million mark. So, if Conley does end up being a terrible investment, but he isn’t spending his money like Montgomery Brewster, he’ll still have plenty of cash to ball up and stuff inside his ears so he won’t be able to hear fans calling him overrated, well until Memphis issues his final paycheck in 2020.