After a series of franchise-altering events and trades, Utah Jazzman Mike Conley had thoughts that he’ll be the next man out.
Per Tony Jones of The Athletic, Conley believed that he would land in the L.A. Clippers, a team that expressed their interest in him last offseason. But ultimately, the Clips go for John Wall.
The veteran guard admitted that initial stages with the current Utah group was difficult, until rookie head coach Will Hardy provided the vision that made them buy in to the team’s plans for the future.
“This was tough at first because I’m 35 and I’m so used to having championship aspirations,” Conley told Jones. “I came to the Jazz to play for championships. So I was wondering what would end up happening. But once we got a new coach (Will Hardy) in here and he started laying things out, I knew that I wanted to be here. We are building and developing. I wanted to put my ego aside and focus on the guys. I’ve loved every second of being on this team, and we play a brand of basketball here that we haven’t played in a while.”
And the belief he invested in Hardy has paid off so far, as Utah is currently riding an 8-3 scorching beginning this season – an unexplainable start around the leagye given the departure of the majority of their franchise core in Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Bojsn Bogdanovic.
“If you had told me in July or August that we would be playing this well, I would’ve said, ‘Hey I’ll take it,’ ” Conley said. “Because it’s so early, I don’t want to take it as validating what we believe because we have a lot of proving to do.
“We know that we have a lot of room to improve and to get better. We also know who we are and how we can play and how much better we can be. It’s a cool feeling to know we can do some of these things and quiet people in the process.”