The injury-plagued Memphis Grizzlies announced star-guard Mike Conley will likely miss three to four weeks due to Achilles tendinitis. This is yet another in a punishing strain of maladies to beset the Western Conference’s current fifth seed.
Conley, who has been absent the previous three games with foot soreness, had additional tests run on March 11, which revealed Achilles tendinitis.
According to NBC Sports, Conley will have his ailing left foot re-evaluated in three to four weeks’ time. Until then, Memphis is having to rely on a makeshift roster — especially at the point guard position — in light of recent major injuries to key players Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Chris Andersen, and Mario Chalmers.
Chalmers, Memphis’ former invaluable backup point guard, was recently waved by the Grizzlies after sustaining a season-ending Achilles tendon rupture against the Boston Celtics on March 9. The Grizzlies organization stated that waving Chalmers was a tough but necessary move to free up an extra roster spot necessitated by the spate of injuries to the team’s core.
With Conley now likely out for the remainder of the regular season, losing Chalmers burns the aching Grizzlies doubly so. Concerning Chalmers’ untimely injury, Memphis General Manager Chris Wallace had this to say to the NBA website.
“Mario did an incredible job for us since coming to Memphis.
“Right from the start, he embraced his change of scenery and endeared himself to his teammates and coaches on the court and the Memphis community off of it.
“He has been an important part of our success this season, both coming off the bench and when called upon as a starter.
“But with Mario’s season-ending injury and our already depleted roster, it became necessary to free up a roster spot.”
As so much of Memphis’ talent is presently sidelined, the Grizzlies have been fastidiously working the NBA’s waiver wire of late, signing players such as Briante Weber, Alex Stepheson, and Ray McCallum to 10-day contracts. Weber and McCallum, along with trade-deadline acquisition Lance Stephenson, will comprise Memphis’ temporary corps of point guards.
Before injury, Conley had been experiencing nagging foot soreness all season. Nonetheless, for the year, the 28-year-old Conley has appeared in 56 games, averaging 15.3 points, 6.1 assists, and 1.2 steals per contest. The stand-out eight-year veteran also posted a respectable shooting line of 42/36/83, while raising his PER to a near-career best of 19.5.
Long heralded as one of the NBA’s blatantly underrated back-court talents, Mike Conley’s absence couldn’t have come at a worse time for Memphis. Currently 39-26, and winners of seven of their last ten outings, the Grizzlies are mired in a dog fight for all important final playoff positioning.
To further compound matters, Conley had been playing exceptionally well recently, averaging 18.6 points, 5.8 assists, and 1.1 steals, while producing an outstanding shooting line of 49/43/80 during that 11-game span. Most importantly, in the wake of former Defensive Player Of The Year Marc Gasol’s season-ending foot injury, Conley stepped up as the team’s all-around leader.
Now the Grizzlies are searching for an identity, as three-fifths of the squad’s usual starting five is on the shelf.
Tonight, Memphis’ patch-work unit looks to hold down the fort, as the team visits the Atlanta Hawks. The Grizzlies have faltered against the Hawks of late. Memphis was defeated 116-101 in the teams’ last meeting on Nov. 27 of this season.
Since that time, however, the Grizzlies have gone 30-18 to become one of the league’s top units. Much of that success is due to the overall strong play of Mike Conley. It remains to be seen just how well the Grizzlies fare without their floor general.
With the rash of other major injuries to befall Memphis this season, it appears as if Mike Conley’s absence has the potential to be the most meaningful of all.
[Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images]