Former Knick Zach Randolph playfully chided the New York media for making a beeline to Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley Jr. after Friday morning’s shootaround at the Garden.
“Mike Conley’s not coming here, man,” Randolph said.
Knicks fans can dream, can’t they? And Conley, a free-agent- to-be at the Knicks’ greatest position of need, smartly did nothing to eliminate the Knicks as contenders for his services this summer. “I think everything will be on the table when the time comes,” he said. “I haven’t committed to anything.”
Knicks fans got a chance to see Conley in person Friday night. The 6-1, 185-pound Ohio State product was outplayed by Jose Calderon, but the Grizzlies won.
Conley had eight points and nine assists. Calderon led the Carmelo Anthony-less Knicks with 18 points and five assists.
Under NBA free-agency rules, Memphis can offer Conley a five-year max deal that starts at $25 million and includes raises as high as 7.5 percent. Other teams can offer the 28-year-old four years, at $25 million for the first year with annual raises as high as 4.5 percent.
The Knicks would have to get creative with their salary cap to be able to afford that. So it’s a long road from Conley not ruling out anything in February and ending up alongside Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis next season.
Conley had nice things to say about the current Knicks. “They’ve got talent, obviously,” he said. “I think Porzingis surprised a lot of people. He’s going to be very, very good in this league. He already is pretty good. But he’s going to grow each year, and they already have one of the best small forwards in Melo. They’ve got a young team, so they’ve got a lot of room to improve.’’
Conley already has seen teammate Marc Gasol mull leaving Memphis before ultimately deciding to stay for the most money. Conley denied that he and Gasol have a “pact” to remain together with the Grizzlies.
“We’ve grown up together in this league, me and Marc, and with the Grizzlies,” he said. “We don’t know anything different. So just like he did last year, it’s something I’m going to wait and talk about later, because at the end of the day, it is a business and anything can happen. But obviously, they know how I feel about Marc and my teammates here.”
With Brian Heyman