Utah Jazz point guard Mike Conley thought he was heading to the Los Angeles Clippers as part of Utah's offseason overhaul that featured the departures of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
Conley told Tony Jones of The Athletic on Monday he received a message from a "person he trusted" suggesting a move to the Clippers, a team that has interested him in recent years, could be on the horizon. Instead, the Clips opted to sign free agent John Wall.
"We tried to handle it as well as it could be handled," Conley told Jones about himself and his wife, Mary. "It was tough because there weren't really many answers to the questions that we had. We didn't know who was staying or going. We had no clue what to expect. It felt like every day I was being traded somewhere else."
The 2021 All-Star ultimately stayed in Utah, and he's played a key role in the team's red-hot 9-3 start to the 2022-23 season.
After the offseason whirlwind of moves, it seemed like the Jazz might struggle to reach .500, let alone sit atop the Western Conference standings as they do now. It's still a small sample size, but they're on track to far exceed expectations.
Conley has averaged 12.5 points, 7.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals through 11 appearances. He's also knocking down 2.4 threes per game at a 42.6 percent clip.
"This was tough at first because I'm 35 and I'm so used to having championship aspirations," Conley told Jones. "I came to the Jazz to play for championships. So I was wondering what would end up happening. But once we got a new coach (Will Hardy) in here and he started laying things out, I knew that I wanted to be here. We are building and developing."
The Ohio State product added he's "loved every second" of playing for the rebuilt Jazz.
Depending on how Utah plays over the next few months, it's still possible Conley ends up on the trade block ahead of the deadline. His three-year, $68 million contract includes a partially guaranteed salary for next season, per Spotrac.
For now, the three-time winner of the NBA Sportsmanship Award said he's focused on the present.
"Honestly, these young guys are keeping me in the moment," Conley told Jones. "Everyone is constantly asking questions and constantly wanting to watch film. I kind of feel like a coach now. I love playing this game and I'm enjoying it."
The Jazz are back on the floor Wednesday night when they visit State Farm Arena to take on the 7-3 Atlanta Hawks.