NEW YORK -- Will Mike Conley find his way to the Big Apple this summer?
The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets might seem to be in disarray now, but don't count out the possibility that one of those two teams lands Conley in free agency. A source close to Conley believes the Memphis Grizzlies point guard will be more receptive to playing for the Knicks and Nets than most think.
Conley, who should be able to command a max contract wherever he goes -- or if he decides to stay in Memphis -- essentially backed that assertion prior to his team's game against the Nets on Wednesday at Barclays Center.
When asked if the Knicks' firing of Derek Fisher as coach would impact his thought process, Conley said, "I don't think it will. At the end of the day, I'll give everybody the same attention, regardless of the situation, and just hear everything out."
Even so, Conley came into his own under Lionel Hollins, whom the Nets fired Jan. 11 in Memphis.
"It's tough," Conley said. "But at the same time, like I said, I'll give everybody their fair shot. With Lionel being here, obviously, it was a big reason to look [at the Nets]. But still, at the same time, with him gone, I'll give everybody the same look."
Conley, 28, is averaging 14.8 points and 6.1 assists per game for the Grizzlies (30-22). He is going to have to step up with Marc Gasol out indefinitely due to a broken foot.
"I want to win," Conley said when asked about the most important going into free agency. "That's what I want to do at the end of the day, wherever that may be. So hopefully, when that time comes, I'll have a better vision on what I want and what I want going forward in the summer, but right now, I'm all about winning, and I want to be somewhere that's committed to doing that."
The Nets got off to a 10-27 start this season before firing Hollins and replacing him on an interim basis with Tony Brown. Part of the reasoning behind Brooklyn's coaching change was that players often clashed with Hollins, whose tough, no-nonsense style did not have the same impact that it had in Memphis.
"I'm not going to say I liked him when we first picked him up," Conley said of Hollins. "He's a very hard coach [to play for]. He definitely gets on each and every person, and I think what our team took away more so than anything was he kept everybody accountable. It didn't matter if you were a star or the last guy on the bench, he treated everybody the same, and that's why he earned the respect from us."
Like Conley, Tony Allen improved under Hollins with the Grizzlies, who advanced to the Western Conference finals in 2013 before electing to in another direction at coach.
"It was all his groundwork. It was all his guys just buying into his system," Allen said. "Not only that, he was one of those guys that was tough-nosed and wouldn't mind calling you out in practice. He wouldn't mind getting in my face, Mike's face, Marc's face, Zach [Randolph]'s face, and they can all vouch for that. Guys didn't take it as offensive, guys took it as, ‘You know what, I'm gonna respond and show him,' and that's why we were able to get better each and every day.
"He came here and tried those same tactics, and I don't think those guys [in Brooklyn] bought into that. I don't think they were tough-minded enough to understand where he was coming from. No knock to those guys, but you can't coach like that with everybody because everybody doesn't embrace that the same way, so I thought that's what happened here."
Allen also see that perspective.
"I know he didn't change, and I know he could rub off on people a certain way because at one point it did [with] me," he said. "But I didn't take it as he was trying to play me. I took it as he was trying to get the best out of me. A lot of players can't take that, a lot of players might shut down, a lot of players might do things or try to act like they aren't happy because of him.
"But in reality, he's a tough-nosed coach, and he stands for something, and he's not going to fall for anything. He didn't re-sign back with Memphis, and that spoke a lot of volumes too. And then the next year, he sat out and got a lucrative deal with the Nets, and it just shows he's a tough-minded guy."