Mike Conley Jr. returns to his home state of Indiana to play the Pacers tonight. Jeff Rabjohns of the Indianapolis Star covers Conley's homecoming and talks about him spending time with his former high school coach, Jack Keefer, in Memphis last weekend.
Mike Conley Jr. has purchased a house on a golf course, is driving a Range Rover and even has enough spare cash to take his former high school coach out to lunch.
"The bill came and I started to reach for it, and he said, 'Coach, let me take care of that,' " Keefer said. "I said, 'Since you're a millionaire, go ahead.' He sheepishly paid for it and said, 'I think that's the first time I bought a meal for anybody.'
Conley's famous former teammate, Greg Oden, is sidelined while recovering from knee surgery. This is Conley's first season since junior high without the 7-foot center as a teammate.
"I don't think people gave him his due as a high school player because they always saw Greg out there and all that," Keefer said. "I think he's gained respect from everybody, and people will enjoy seeing him come back."
Brian Cardinal, Janitor Memphis Grizzlies ($5,850,000): During one of the dark years I actually heard a fellow Warrior fan say that the Warriors need to build around Brian Cardinal. I'm worried adding him to the crew might result in some more delusional projections, so we'll pass.
Jason Williams, PG Miami Heat ($8,937,500): White chocolate used to be one of the most entertaining players in the league, but I'm a big fan of milk chocolate. I keep it brown.
Griz head coach Marc Iavaroni seems convinced, evoking "The Custodian" when talking about a goal the team should have while shaping its identity.
"We should be scrapping," Iavaroni said. "That's why I've liked Brian Cardinal. He's done a good job of getting us extra possessions and extra shots. So he'll be in the rotation again. He's a guy who makes other players better. He's a facilitator. He's just a really heady basketball player."
After the dream month Tarence Kinsey had last April, it's understandable why he wasn't in a hurry for the 2006-07 season to end, even though the rest of the Grizzlies were ready to put their 22-win season behind them.
''He's just got some good competition,'' Iavaroni said. ''He's been working very hard, though. Right now, it's finding a format so I can get everybody quality minutes so they can be evaluated. I've been pleased with his effort. And his defense has been a very strong suit.
"I think he's similar to most of the other twos in that they're settling into that style that I'm going to be running a lot and then shooting a jump shot. That takes a little getting used to, even though he did it pretty well last year.''