Should they reach the 2016 NBA playoffs, the Memphis Grizzlies are preparing to be without starting point guard Mike Conley for the postseason.
According to Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal, the Western Conference franchise are planning to prioritise Conley's long-term health over rushing him back for the playoffs despite the team's crippling injury situation.
The 28-year-old has been out of action since March 6 with Achilles tendonitis and an initial timeline for return was set at between three and four weeks. Now, though, it looks like Conley won't be back on the hardwood until the 2016-17 season.
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Per Tillery's report:
"The Commercial Appeal independently confirmed that Conley was re-evaluated last week by team doctors. It was determined that it is in Conley’s best interest to not return to action until the 2016-17 season."
The article goes on to state that the Grizzlies guard remains in a walking boot and both the franchise and player will take a "cautious approach to his long-term future."
Conley's injury is just one of many to have impacted the Memphis roster this season. The likes of Chandler Parsons, Marc Gasol and Mario Chalmers have long been done for the year, while the franchise broke an NBA record this week by using their 28th player of the season.
Somehow, the Grizzlies are still on course to play playoff basketball despite the injury setbacks. They currently occupy the fifth seed in the Western Conference and are three games ahead of the Houston Rockets in ninth place.
Thier chances of making it beyond the first round of the postseason, however, would be significantly reduced without the presence of Conley.
The point guard has averaged a team-high 6.1 assists this season and ranks second on the team in points per game with 15.3.
Since his last game, against the Portland Trail Blazers in the first week of March, the Grizzlies have won just four of 15 games. Being without him for the playoffs, then, could be a decisive blow for the franchise.
Beyond the upcoming postseason, Conley's future in Memphis is unclear.
He is set to enter free agency this summer after nine seasons with the Grizzlies and, coming off the back of another solid season, there will likely be plenty of interest in him from franchises across the league.
Memphis will be keen on re-signing Conley to a new deal and their cautious approach to his injury would suggest as much as they try not to compromise him for next season.
The New York Knicks are rumoured to be one of the teams interested in signing the PG when free agency begins in July.
have been without starting point guard Mike Conley since March 6
doesn't bode well for playoff basketball
The Memphis Grizzlies roster has been ravaged by injury this season yet, despite the high turnover of players, the Western Conference franchise are still on course to reach the 2016 NBA playoffs.