MEMPHIS, Tenn. — While the glory days of the core four came to an end in 2017, Memphis still had Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. Thursday, the cornerstones of the franchise turned singular, with only Mike Conley remaining.
“I think everyone can relate to fearing the unknown and not knowing what’s around the corner. That’s kind of the feeling I was going through. To get through it and to be here is a blessing,” said Mike Conley.
That’s not to say that the guy who was drafted fourth overall in 2007. And has spent his entire career in the bluff city was good with idea of being shopped around.
“Obviously I wouldn’t have wanted to gone through what I went through the last two weeks. But everything happens for a reason and I can learn from it and the organization can learn from it. Makes me a better person and a stronger person knowing I can handle all facets of this game and this business and just a learning experience for me,” said Conley.
With this team’s playoff hopes dashed weeks ago, the front office put it’s focus on a new task, conveying a first round pick to Boston this year.
“This draft does not appear to be a great draft top to bottom, so if there is a year to step out of a draft, this is probably the year, number one. Number two, for your future moves, it is much more beneficial to not have a pick encumbered, to have a clean slate of first rounders at your disposal,” said Chris Wallace.
A future that now rests on the shoulders of a teenager, rookie sensation Jaren Jackson Jr.
“I have to be ready for whatever is presented to me. I just keep working, I try to be the best I can be everyday. So I try to improve and keep getting better, so when I am called upon, I’ll be ready,” said Jaren Jackson Jr.
“Yeah, Jaren is a star. I am just excited I get to play alongside him and I to try an expedite his development as quickly as possible, to get him to the level that he can carry this franchise,” said Conley.
“The big thing is Jaren is here, in a Grizzlies uniform. It is very difficult to find Jaren Jackson’s, the rest of the NBA is trying to get players like that to set them up for the future, we have one here, now that is just blossoming in front of our eyes,” said Wallace.
And just another sign that things have already changed for this Grizzlies organization — the place where Marc Gasol’s banner used to hang is already taken down. Things are certainly going to be looking new for this team and this organization going forward.