It was no secret that the Utah Jazz needed to iron out a deal with Mike Conley as soon as they could. When the clock struck 4 p.m. in Utah, and teams were officially allowed to negotiate with players and agents, it came as no surprise that Conley and the Jazz came to a quick agreement.
So what does Conley re-signing with the Jazz mean for the team? What does it mean for the Jazz financially? What does it mean for the rest of the current roster and the future of the roster?
Re-signing Conley guarantees that the Jazz move forward with a starting All-Star backcourt of Donovan Mitchell and Conley. It also means that any of the younger guards who might be developing with the Jazz (i.e. Jared Butler) will have ample time to learn from one of the most veteran and respected guards in the game.
That leadership and help with developing is not to be taken lightly. Mitchell has said on multiple occasions that some of his progress over the past two seasons can be directly attributed to Conley, and it’s obvious on the court.
This all comes with the caveat and understanding that Conley’s recent hamstring issues are not to be ignored. There is real concern there, especially with Conley being nearer to the end of his playing career. But with the right conditioning and management throughout the season, the Jazz should be able to deliver Conley to the playoffs healthy.
When you look around the league at the other All-Star caliber point guards who signed deals on the first day of free agency, it’s clear that the Jazz are getting a discount with Conley, even if it might not seem like it. He’s slated to make roughly $24 million per year over the course of his new three-year deal, which is $10 million less per year than he was making on his previous contract.
Chris Paul agreed to a four-year deal with the Phoenix Suns that will see him get paid $30 million per year, and Kyle Lowry will be earning $30 million per year once he joins the Miami Heat after a sign-and-trade deal with the Toronto Raptors is finalized. It’s not as if either player has been injury-free throughout their respective careers.
Even with the discounted price that Conley has signed at compared to some of his contemporaries, it does add to the Jazz’s already hefty payroll now that Mitchell and Rudy Gobert’s max contract extensions are on the books.
The 2021-22 NBA salary cap is $112.4 million and the luxury tax threshold is set at $136.6 million. When you add up the salaries of Mitchell, Gobert, Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, Jordan Clarkson, Joe Ingles, Udoka Azubuike and Elijah Hughes, the Jazz are already spending upwards of $144 million, well over the cap and tax threshold.
In the not so distant future, that means the Jazz will be dealing tax penalties and will need to maneuver between them for a while. In the more immediate future, it means the Jazz have the tax-payer mid-level exception ($5.9 million) and minimum contracts that they can offer to prospective free agents.
That brings us to what the Conley signing means for what this roster will look like for the 2021-22 season and beyond, and truthfully, I don’t exactly know.
The Jazz are still working the free-agent market, and there are possible trades that could happen down the road. What we do know is that Conley wanting to stay with the Jazz signals to the rest of the league that Utah is a good place to play and that the Jazz have players you want to be around. If nothing else, that’s a good omen for things to come.