Injuries are chewing up this NBA season. Mike Conley, of the Memphis Grizzlies, played in just 12 games before heel and achilles pain put him out of action, and all but ended any hope of the Grizzlies continuing their seven-year streak of making the playoffs in the loaded West. Saturday Conley was officially ruled out for the remainder of the season:
Conley will undergo surgery to smooth a small bone protrusion in his left heel that continues to cause pain and soreness. He will be unavailable for the remainder of the 2017-18 season but is expected to make a full recovery prior to 2018-19 training camp.
This news comes just a few weeks after an update that made it seem like Conley might be on his way to a return: he traveled with the team on a five-game road trip in early January, and was reportedly stepping up the intensity of his pre-game workouts. The Grizzlies were in deep shit, but a Conley return in, say, mid-January would’ve made a return to competitiveness a reasonable possibility. And the Grizzlies have scratched together a respectable 6-6 record since that New Year’s Eve report, but, at 14 games under .500 and eight games back of the West’s final playoff spot, that possibility has apparently become too remote for the Grizzlies to, umm, bear.
The official shelving of Conley should close the book on the Grizzlies trying to salvage anything from this season. This is the final year before the NBA’s new draft lottery setup shifts the incentives, and the Grizzlies owe their 2019 draft pick to the Boston Celtics. Don’t be surprised if Conley’s status functions as the starting gun on a short-term tanking project in Memphis.