Selected 4th in the 2007 NBA Draft, Mike Conley has been a member of the Memphis Grizzlies for his entire career. He's had a productive nine seasons, making NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2013 and helping lead the Grizzlies to the playoffs every year since 2011. While he's certainly a solid player, he's never made an All-Star team, and just about every "Top 5 Point Guards" list would exclude him.
But for now, Conley has one thing no other player in the league does: the richest contract in NBA history.
The Grizzlies re-signed Conley to a five-year, $153 million deal to keep him in Memphis, which is a higher dollar amount in total value than any other player has ever received. It's also the first contract in NBA history to be over $100 million in total value with an annual salary average of at least $30 million.
If Kevin Durant returns to the Oklahoma City this offseason on a five-year deal, he can match what Conley just got, but this record will likely hold until the following offseason, when the salary cap balloons once again.
Only two players prior to Conley have made $30 million in a season: Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. Between them, they have 11 NBA championships, six MVPs, eight Finals MVPs, and 12 scoring titles. Aside from the one All-Defensive Second Team appearance, Conley's only other professional accolades are winning the NBA Sportsmanship Award twice, in 2014 and again this past season.
However, these enormous contracts will soon become the standard in the NBA. The salary cap rose from $70 million to $94 million in just one year, and it's set to increase to somewhere around $107 million. Then again, at this time last year, the projections were that the salary cap would rise to somewhere in the $87-$89 million range. What actually happened blew that out of the water, so we could very likely see the same thing happen next offseason.
Players earn a percentage of the salary cap, with the max fluctuating based on tenure in the league. Conley, who has played nine seasons, signed a deal worth 30 percent of the cap, with 7.5 percent annual raises.
By comparison, Chandler Parsons, whom Conley heavily helped recruit to the Grizzlies, just signed his own max deal, inking a four-year, $94 million contract. Alongside Marc Gasol, who signed a five-year, $110 million deal last offseason, the Grizzlies have a talented, if oft-injured core.
The trio of Conley, Gasol and Randolph have led a Memphis team that has always been a pesky out in the playoffs, defeating the Spurs as an 8-seed in 2011, knocking off the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder en route to the Western Conference Finals in 2013, and giving the eventual champion Golden State Warriors fits in a tough six-game series in 2015.
Will an extremely well-paid Conley and Parsons be enough to get the Grizzlies over the hump in the loaded Western Conference? That remains to be seen, but Memphis snagging two highly-sought free agents – even if one of them was already a member of their team – is a huge win for a small market.