Take a guess at who got the most lucrative contract extension in NBA history -- by total dollars -- this offseason. It was Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley. Alas, now the Grizz are going to miss their leader for perhaps six weeks due to injury.
Conley was injured in the Grizzlies' 104-85 home loss to Charlotte on Monday when he received an inadvertent knee to the back. Conley had 14 points before leaving in the third quarter. On Tuesday, it was revealed that the former Ohio State star suffered a transverse process fracture in his vertebrae and is expected to miss six weeks.
I don't recommend backing Memphis too often on NBA odds without Conley, who got a five-year deal worth $153 million this offseason with the explosion of the salary cap. Conley is averaging a career-high 19.2 points to go with 5.7 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals while shooting 46.7 percent from 3-point range and 89.7 percent from the foul line. The Grizzlies are 11-7 and fifth in the Western Conference.
The Grizzlies were 9-21 last season, including the playoffs, when Conley was out injured. He had missed one game this year and it was ugly: a 116-80 Memphis loss in Minnesota. Rookie first-round pick Wade Baldwin started that game.
Memphis next visits Toronto on Wednesday and certainly will be an underdog on NBA picks for that one. There was no immediate opening line as the Grizzlies awaited word on Conley.