UPDATE: After the Utah Jazz reportedly decided to replace point guard Mike Conley in the starting lineup with Royce O’Neale, it appears that team management has changed its mind.
The Athletic reports that the Jazz have now decided to remove Joe Ingles from the starting lineup instead and will keep Conley as a starter next to O’Neale. This decision arrived after the team told players that Conley was going to the bench, according to the report.
A recap of the original report is below.
The Utah Jazz haven’t publicly admitted that their July acquisition of Mike Conley isn’t working out as they’d hoped, but they’re acknowledging it through their actions. According to Shams Charania and Tony Jones of The Athletic, the Jazz are moving Conley out of the starting lineup immediately and replacing him with Royce O’Neale.
A change was necessary for the Jazz, who have lost 8 of their last 12 games and three straight since the All-Star Game. O’Neale’s prodigious talent as a perimeter defender is urgently needed in the starting lineup, and Conley has been underperforming and underwhelming overall.
When Utah traded for Conley during the offseason, it was regarded as a smart move. Conley is a two-way veteran who was seen as the perfect backcourt partner for Donovan Mitchell. However, he just hasn’t fit in with the rest of the starters, and his stats are far from what the Jazz had been hoping for. This season, Conley has averaged a thoroughly average 13.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game, and with a $32.5 million contract, he’s the highest-paid player on the Jazz.
Conley has been hampered by injuries this season, missing 19 games in December and January with a hamstring issue.
The Jazz have slid to fifth place in the Western Conference, and while that’s not any reason to panic, there is one on the horizon: the Oklahoma City Thunder are behind the Jazz by just a half-game. With the All-Star Game solidly in the rearview mirror, they couldn’t wait any longer for Conley to improve.
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