Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, widely regarded as among the most underrated players in the league, will wear that banner no longer. Not after signing the richest contract in the NBA — a deal that will reportedly pay him $153 million over five years. It’s believed that Conley’s work in persuading big man Marc Gasol to stay in Memphis helped demonstrate his leadership bona fides outside the lines, enhancing his value. The money isn’t flowing because he was an All-Star — Conley has yet to make an All-Star team.
Even as the NBA salary cap balloons and not-quite-superstar players like Jeremy Lin ($36M, 3-years, Brooklyn) and Matthew Dellavedova ($38.4M, 4 years, Milwaukee) sign big-star-like deals, Conley’s deal stands out. (ESPN Stats & Information calls it the richest contract in total value in league history.) Conley’s deal also makes it seem like Colts QB Andrew Luck, who also just signed an eye-popping deal worth $140 million, may have undersold himself just as ESPN said he did. Obviously the two leagues and team structures are very different, but the Colts franchise is valued at $1.06 billion while the Grizzlies are valued at $780 million. Luck is unquestionably the franchise player in Indianapolis, whereas in Memphis that tag may belong to Gasol, not Conley. Fascinating times — especially if you’re an agent.