MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis Grizzlies signed Mike Conley to a five-year contract extension worth $40 million Tuesday after watching the 23-year-old point guard get off to the best start of his career.
They agreed to terms before a Monday night deadline and waited for the NBA to approve the contract Tuesday before announcing what the Grizzlies called only a multi-year deal.
"Mike has improved significantly during his brief time in the league, and we are optimistic that the best is yet to come for him," Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said in a statement. "With the signing of Rudy Gay last summer and now Mike, the organization has shown that it is serious about keeping the Grizzlies' core together into the future."
Conley, the fourth overall pick in 2007, becomes the latest player from that draft to receive such an extension, joining Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City, Al Horford of Atlanta, Joakim Noah of Chicago and now Jared Dudley of Phoenix.
The 6-foot-1 guard is off to the best start of his career, averaging career highs with 15 points, 5.7 rebounds and 8.3 assists. He is leading the NBA with 3.67 steals per game. Conley is one of only four NBA players averaging at least 15 points, eight assists and five rebounds this season. The others? Chris Paul of New Orleans, Chicago's Derrick Rose and Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings.
Mike Conley Sr., his father and agent, said the deal came together over the past three days including intensive work over the final hours to beat the deadline. He credited the Grizzlies with giving Conley a real chance this season to prove whether he could play.
"This is the first year if you think back that the Grizzlies have said, 'OK Mike. There's no Damon Stoudamire. There's no Kyle Lowry this year. There's no Allen Iverson this year. You're our guy. What can you do?' " Conley said. "I think that level of confidence he's not taking lightly, and he's performing at the highest possible level I think he can perform. That helps."
Conley Sr. credited coach Lionel Hollins specifically with wanting to see whether Conley Jr. could play or not.
"He gave Mike rope enough to do well. They gave him enough rope to hang himself. That's all you can ask for," Conley Sr. said.
And it seems to be working.
Conley tied a career-high with 11 assists and matched his franchise record with seven steals Oct. 30 in a win over Minnesota.
He ranked sixth in franchise history with 1,026 assists going into Tuesday night's game with the Lakers and eighth in 3-point percentage shooting at 38.3 percent.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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