4. Can't the Grizzlies, in the name of stability, try to lock up Mike Conley for the long term before he ends up on the open market like Gasol?
The Grizzlies would love to.
Sources say, furthermore, that they've tried to engage Conley in extension talks. More than once.
But the five-year, $40 million pact they signed Conley to in 2010 -- openly second-guessed all over the NBA map at the time -- proved to be too shrewd. So the consensus starting point guard on the league's All-Underrated Team simply can't sign an extension, working from the figures on his current deal, that could come close to the sort of offers he's likely to attract as a 2016 free agent at the age of 28.
The Grizz, as a result, have no choice here. Conley is such a part of the furniture in the Grit/Grind World that you can safely presume his No. 11 will be raised to the rafters of the FedEx Forum someday. But it would be foolish for him to consent to an extension now, computing the increases from his current salary of $9-plus million, when he has the chance to test the market in a year at the same time that the NBA's salary cap is poised to jump from the high $60 million range into $90 million territory.
The Grizzlies got a steal with Conley's first contract extension. They'll likely have to pay up to keep Conley paired with Marc Gasol for another four years.