Mike Conley finds out today if he makes the Western Conference All-Star team as a reserve. A lot of fans have been vocal saying Conley needs to be included on the roster. They want him on the roster. They want the attention on the team and the player who is having a breakout season just when the team needs one from him.
I think that is wrong.
Mike Conley has been the Grizzlies workhorse this season. He has led the team in points, assists and steals while keeping the team afloat despite injuries so rampant they could have derailed a lesser team. His work has definitely earned him a spot in the game.
I don’t care.
This isn’t about what is right. This isn’t about what is fair. This isn’t even about the snubbing of a small market team that has every right in the world to feel snubbed by the NBA this season after last year’s fantastic run.
This is about what is best for the Grizzlies team.
Mike Conley has led the team in minutes played this year and done so playing both ends of the court against the fastest players in the league. He’s been beaten up with nasty picks and bludgeoned by larger defenders. Conley is not an iron man. He’s a 6-1, 185 pound player in a big man’s league who is indispensable for the Grizzlies. His only backup is a rookie. Granted he’s a 24 yr. old rookie with 4 years of pro experience in Europe, but a rookie just the same and susceptible to the rookie wall just like any other NBA rookie.
There is no one currently behind Calathes.
The Grizzlies can’t afford for Mike to spend the All-Star weekend running around New Orleans with all the famous people, attending parties and basically living the high life. Let someone else’s star PG do all that. Mike needs to be at home resting his legs and preparing for the playoff run after the All-Star game.
And Grizzlies fans should know that.
Have fans already forgotten those games where Mike had to practically be carried off the court after giving everything he had in a game? Have they already forgotten how the team struggled when Conley bruised his thigh and had to miss a couple of games? The season is long in the NBA and due to a scheduling fluke the Grizzlies have a monstrous closing schedule. From February 28th until March 22 the Grizzlies play 13 games in 23 days and a ridiculous 5 back to back series including a stretch of three straight back to back games!
Do we really want Mike running around Bourbon Street right before heading into that string of games?
I don’t think so. Let Damian Lillard go instead. He’s young, already going to New Orleans for the Rising Stars competition and his team is ahead of the Grizzlies in the standings. I would greatly prefer him running around New Orleans, drinking hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s and wearing himself out in the process. Let Mike rest.
Now I know there are financial reasons Mike wants to attend. Most NBA players have provisions in their contracts if they make the All-Star game. It can be lucrative in fact. Yet as Grizzlies fans do we want the team to have more cap space money spent on existing players when the team has a clear need to bring in additional player as the 3rd (some would say 2nd) team PG. If Conley not making the All-Star team means an additional $500,000 free under the cap so much the better for the team.
And this is a team sport after all.
Now I know people will be upset about this position but when you think about it it’s the only real way to feel. Everyone knows, or should know, that Conley deserves a spot. That isn’t the point. This isn’t about who deserves a place. It’s about what’s best for the team. Conley needs the rest more than the accolades and the team needs the cap space.
And besides, what will Memphis fans complain about if they aren’t ignored on the national spotlight?