SALT LAKE CITY — Like the rest of the world, Mike Conley couldn’t escape the NBA trade rumors and speculation floating around social media for the past few months.
So, as he hopped off the plane to visit family and friends in his hometown last week, he wasn’t necessarily shocked by the news he learned.
“I was actually traveling to my mom’s house in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and got off the plane and found out I had got traded,” Conley told NBA TV Monday on the red carpet ahead of the 2019 NBA Awards.
“It just happened so quick, you kind of expected it but once it happens, all the emotions and feelings come in. But after about 35 minutes or so, it all settled in and I’m really excited about the new opportunity,” he continued.
Conley was traded from Memphis to Utah in exchange for Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder, Grayson Allen and two first-round picks on Wednesday, June 19.
The deal won’t become official until July 6, but Conley has wasted no time showing his excitement for a new setting through multiple social media posts — including one via Twitter where he accidentally referred to “the city of Utah,” which he later corrected.
“It’s an honest mistake. I was rushing when I was typing it,” Conley also said on the red carpet. “I was actually in a place where I couldn’t use my phone and I made a mistake but that’ll be my last turnover, I promise.”
Ahead of the NBA Awards presentation, Conley posted photos of him and Donovan Mitchell engaged in a private workout on Instagram, which immediately made Jazz fans enthused about the future.
The new Jazz backcourt were both nominees for the 2018-19 Seasonlong NBA Cares Community Assist Award. Conley received the January NBA Cares Community Assist Award for his work in the Memphis community, then received the NBA's 2018-19 Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year plus the Sportsmanship Award.
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal won the Community Assist Award.
"A lot of the stuff that I do on the court and off the court, I don't really care if I get any kind of recognition for it, but this is really cool," Conley said on the Barker Hangar stage in Los Angeles.
"Utah, I'm looking forward to it," he added. "Let's go do something special."
After spending his first 12 seasons with the Grizzlies, the veteran floor general will now embark on a new chapter in Salt Lake City. Former Michigan State star Jaren Jackson Jr. spent his rookie season alongside Conley in Memphis and is warning Jazz fans about a certain look he’ll give his teammates if he ever disapproves of something on the hardwood.
They may want to pay attention — especially Mitchell.
“I just learned that when Mike gives you this face, it’s like a smile,” Jackson also told NBA TV on the red carpet. “I remember one time I got a tech and he gave me this face, it’s like a, ‘C’mon bro.’ He doesn’t have to say anything, but he always does that smile so Utah, watch out for that. He’s going to give Donovan that. If Donovan wilds out, he’s just going to look at him like, ‘Bro.’”