Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley is not expected to return from his Achilles injury even if Memphis can reach the playoffs, according to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal.
Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger was asked if he expected to see four injured Grizzlies players (Conley, Jordan Adams, Brandan Wright and P.J. Hairston) return this season. He responded that he thought Hairston would return but didn't mention the others. Tillery independently confirmed that Conley will not return until next season "barring a miraculous recovery by the time the postseason begins."
Conley was originally ruled out for 3-4 weeks back in mid-March with Achilles tendinitis, which would have put him on track to return for the playoffs. However, his condition has not improved significantly and the organization fears he will suffer a much more serious Achilles injury like backup Mario Chalmers did a few days later. Memphis must therefore finish the season with only Jordan Farmar, Xavier Munford and Ray McCallum at the position.
The Grizzlies are still in fifth place in the Western Conference with a 41-36 record, but have been sinking quickly thanks to numerous injuries to key stars. Franchise center Marc Gasol remains out after breaking his foot and Chalmers has already been waived after his season-ending injury.
The Grizzlies are three games ahead of ninth-place Houston with only five contests left to play, but have a difficult closing schedule that includes two against Golden State, a road contest against the Clippers and crucial games against the Mavericks and Bulls, who are both fighting for their own playoff lives. Memphis is an underdog in all five of those games, and the Rockets, Jazz, Mavericks and Blazers (all within three games of Memphis) have significantly easier run-ins.
Conley is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, where he'll be the top point guard on the market. All signs point to him returning to Memphis, but stranger things have happened.