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Mike Conley knows people forgot about him, says Grizzlies primed for rebound year: 'I got that edge back'

Mike Conley knows people forgot about him, says Grizzlies primed for rebound year: 'I got that edge back'
Published On: Tue, Oct 16
Apr 24, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) receives the Joe Dumars Trophy for sportsmanship before the game against the San Antonio Spurs in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Conley didn't always know he'd be a Memphis Grizzlies icon. On more than one occasion early in his career, Conley had a feeling he was about to be traded. In January of his second season, it was more than a feeling: Conley came off the bench and played 11 minutes in Toronto, then was pulled out of the game and told to go to the locker room. He showered, changed and mentally prepared himself for the next chapter of his career in Milwaukee. The next day, the trade -- which reportedly would have sent Joe Alexander and Ramon Sessions to the Grizzlies -- fell through.

Conley, 31, is now entering his 12th season in Memphis. He knows from experience how quickly things change in the NBA and how close we were to living in a world where the grit-and-grind Grizzlies, as we knew them, never even existed.

"They'd always draft a point guard or draft somebody in that position and I'd have to compete," Conley told CBS Sports. "Every year, I was competing for a position. Nothing was ever really solidified until later in my career. Not until maybe my fifth or sixth year did I feel like oh, I'll be here, this is where I'll be, we've found something with this team and this organization and it was a match-made-in-heaven kind of deal. Up until that point, I just didn't know."

Last season, it was a left heel injury that changed everything. Conley played just 12 games, then could do nothing but watch as coach David Fizdale got fired and the team stumbled toward a 22-60 record, their worst season since Conley was a rookie. This was a dark time, but Conley has emerged energized.A 

"From my perspective, man, I would say that this year is a rebound year for us," he said. "We feel like we let one year slip away because of injuries and the circumstances of last season. This season is an opportunity to bounce back and get back into the conversation as a playoff team and competing again."

On the phone, Conley discussed Memphis' offseason, the talent of rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. and how he handled what he has called the worst year of his life and career. This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity and flow.

Read the complete news article here...

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