SPORTSBEAT

Mike Conley: ‘Time Is Now To Win Championship’

Jul 13, 2019, 8:06 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It is starting to set in for the newest Utah Jazz point guard Mike Conley, when he was introduced on Monday in Las Vegas, Nevada.

A 12-year veteran, who has played with the Memphis Grizzlies through his entire career to this point is excited for the new chapter in his career in Salt Lake City.

When he first found out he was traded, despite all of the rumors in February and June, Conley was still shocked.

“It was emotional at first,” Conley told KSL Sports’ Jeremiah Jensen. “When it first happened, I couldn’t believe it was real, I didn’t know how to act, I sat in the car with my father and was quiet, sat back and thought about the years where you have had all of the ups and downs and things that you went through. After 20 minutes, I started thinking about all of the possibilities going forward and got super excited.”

“I just thank Memphis for everything,” he said. “They made me who I am and now I have the opportunity to bring that to Utah.”

Now Conley feels is the time for the Jazz to compete for a championship, especially with the roster that has taken shape in the last three weeks.

“I have been close but haven’t been able to push through,” Conley said. “Now, it seems like the time, this year especially. It’s a great opportunity for the Jazz to be ourselves and continue to improve as the season goes on and we will be there and the end of the year knocking on the door.”

Trade Was Perfect Timing

The Jazz agreed to terms on the trade that sent Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, Grayson Allen and two first round draft picks on June 19, before the 2019 NBA Draft. That was also before free agents could talk to NBA teams on June 30. Conley felt that the trade was perfect timing for the Jazz to use in their pitches to free agents.

“It was a phenomenal off-season,” Conley said. “I think the way that it all played out with me getting traded when I did right before the draft I think really helped expedite and accelerate a little bit and give guys like Bogey (Bojan Bogdanovic) and other guys to look at when they are looking for places to call home. I am just excited to be a part of the plan and it is going to be something special.”

The fit is perfect for him as well. He is a player that is known for his defense and can score when needed as well.

“I feel like I fit in really seamlessly,” Conley said. “It reminds me a little bit of my teams in Memphis when we were playing the defense that we played, but with a little more offense (in Utah). With guys like Donovan (Mitchell), who is a unique talent. I don’t think guys get too many opportunities to play with a guy like that. He is going to make things a lot easier for me and for everybody else. The way I play, my DNA, the defense and the offense are just as important to me. So, I am going to fit in pretty good.”

Playing For Utah

Conley was very excited to join the Jazz because of what the franchise has built with young talent in Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.

“We all know what he can do now,” Conley said and Mitchell. “The sky is the limit, he can be so much better and that’s the scary thing about it, he has a lot of room to improve in a lot of different areas and he knows that. He is ready to take that next jump and he wants to be that guy and that’s the most impressive thing.”

The 12-year veteran point guard is happy that he doesn’t have to face the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year anymore.

“It’s the best, first thing I said to him was ‘I am just happy that I don’t have to play against you’ because he made nights very hard to find any room in the paint and that’s where I like to work a lot,” Conley said.

His interactions with head coach Quin Snyder has been good, but knows that he is very detailed oriented and will be critical in Utah’s success this season.

“He’s great,” Conley said about coach Snyder. “He is a guy that is ready to challenge all of us everyday. Just talking X’s and O’s, I made a mistake of asking a question about a defensive call and went on with a laundry list of things.”

Conley has already spent time in Salt Lake City. He has brought his family to Utah as well to get acclimated to their new home.

“The city is incredible,” Conley said. “Just being there the last few days, I am just blown away. I didn’t know it was this hot in the summer. The people are great. The practice facility is one of a kind.”

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