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Why the Jazz need Mike Conley

Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley smiles after dropping a 3-point shot as the Jazz and Sacramento play in Salt Lake City.
Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (10) smiles after dropping a three point shot as the Utah Jazz and the Sacramento Kings play an NBA basketball game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 10, 2021. Jazz won 128-112.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
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The Utah Jazz’s first order of business this offseason, following the July 29 draft, involves Mike Conley.

The Jazz’s All-Star guard is an unrestricted free agent, but make no mistake — the Jazz want him back. They need him back. If Conley decides to walk away from the Jazz and take an offer from another team, that would be a disaster for the Jazz.

The concerns regarding Conley are clear. He missed time in both of his two seasons with the Jazz due to hamstring injuries and, most notably, was unable to play through most of the second round of the playoffs this last season due to a hamstring strain. When the 2021-22 season starts Conley will be 34.

But even with Conley’s age and his injury concerns, re-signing him is a no brainer and a must for the Jazz. The team can rest and manage him more throughout the regular season in order to deliver him to the playoffs healthy and ready to go and outside of the nagging hamstring issues, he’s shown no signs of slowing down. Quite the opposite actually.

Conley made his All-Star debut this past season and had the best shooting season of his 14-year career. He is, without a doubt, one of the biggest reasons the Jazz were able to secure the No. 1 seed in the NBA through the regular season and it would be impossible for the Jazz to replace that kind of talent and skillset with the resources they have available.

If the Jazz aren’t able to re-sign Conley, they don’t have any cap space to work with to bring in another player of Conley’s caliber. The Jazz will have a mid-level exception worth roughly $5.9 million, they can offer minimum contracts or they can trade. Neither of those first two options will bring in a starter, and if the Jazz are going to trade to get another point guard, they leave themselves with even less options to address the other roster issues (wing depth, versatility, defense).

The only questions that really remain for Conley and the Jazz where he’s concerned are, is owner Ryan Smith going to be willing to pay the luxury tax hit that Conley’s next contract will bring? And, does Conley want to run it back with the Jazz?

Those questions will be answered in the first week of August when free agency opens up and the Jazz make the biggest phone call of the offseason.

New with the Jazz

This week on ‘Unsalvageable’

Check out “Unsalvageable: A Utah Jazz Podcast”, hosted by Deseret News Utah Jazz beat reporter Sarah Todd and lifelong Jazz fan Greg Foster (no, not that Greg Foster). This week, they talk through Sarah’s recent article for the Deseret News in which each Jazz player receives a letter grade for their 2020-21 performance.

New episodes come out every Wednesday. You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast and anywhere else you stream podcasts.

From the archives

This week in Jazz history

Former Jazzman Mel Turpin took his own life on July 8, 2010. He was found in his Lexington, Kentucky, home with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Turpin played in 79 games for the Jazz during the 1987-88 season and averaged 5.9 points and 3.0 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game.

Extra points

  • NBA, Utah Jazz key dates through the offseason (Deseret News)
  • Utah Jazz want Mike Conley to return, finding more guard and wing depth on a budget: Offseason questions (The Athletic)
  • Quit blaming Quin Snyder for the Utah Jazz’s playoff demise and look at the real issue moving forward (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Former Utah State Aggie, BYU Cougar headed to NBA Finals (Deseret News)

Around the league

Phoenix Suns forward Dario Saric tears ACL in Game 1, will miss the rest of the Finals.

The Golden State Warriors are hiring Kenny Atkinson to be lead assistant under head coach Steve Kerr.

Men’s basketball field set for Tokyo Olympics.

Up next: NBA Finals

July 8 | 7 p.m. | Game 2, Milwaukee Bucks @ Phoenix Suns | ABC

July 11 | 6 p.m. | Game 3, Phoenix Suns @ Milwaukee Bucks | ABC

July 14 | 7 p.m. | Game 4, Phoenix Suns @ Milwaukee Bucks | ABC

July 17 | 7 p.m. | *Game 5, Milwaukee Bucks @ Phoenix Suns | ABC

July 20 | 7 p.m. | *Game 6, Phoenix Suns @ Milwaukee Bucks | ABC

July 22 | 7 p.m. | *Game 7, Milwaukee Bucks @ Phoenix Suns | ABC

* Game if necessary