Golden State Warriors v Utah Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 13: Mike Conley #10 of the Utah Jazz looks on during a game against the Golden State Warriors on December 13, 2019 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Utah Jazz point guard Mike Conley could return from hamstring injury this week

by Aaron Falk

When Mike Conley strained his hamstring earlier this month, the veteran point guard didn’t think the injury would be serious. And, frankly, if Conley had had his way, he might have put on his Utah Jazz jersey and played in the very next game.

Instead, Conley has had to patiently wait for his chance to get back on the court—a wait that could end as early as Tuesday's game against the Orlando Magic.

“It’s doing great,” Conley said after going through practice on Sunday in Salt Lake City. “Doing a lot better. We’re doing more and more every day. Just the relationship between me and the training staff, we’re putting our heads together. I’m being patient. We’re preparing for trying to play as soon as possible. So hopefully Tuesday, but we’ll see.”

Conley has battled through plenty of injuries during his 12-year NBA career. But the veteran guard has had to keep the big picture in mind as he’s sat out his team’s last five games.

“Everybody is saying be patient, be patient, don’t push it,” Conley said. “It’s been tough. You just have to trust the training staff and the team. They’re doing what’s right for you. I even had the conversation before the season that they’re going to have to save me from myself sometimes because I’ll play through anything.”

Conley has averaged 13.9 points and 4.6 assists per game during his first season with the Jazz, and his presence on the floor has been missed.

“Of course, we miss his ability to create for himself and others,” center Rudy Gobert said. “But more importantly, I would say it’s his presence on the court. His leadership, his poise.”

“We miss him a lot,” forward Jeff Green added. “But we want him to be healthy at the end of the day. We don’t want anything lingering.”

Even as he’s rehabbed, Conley has tried to provide leadership for his team.

“I’m in every huddle during games,” he said. “I’m learning, asking questions. I’m talking about plays with Coach. Suggestions I’m making during games. During practices, I’m still in there, vocal, being around and working on the side as well.”

And watching from the bench has helped give Conley a new perspective.

“I’m really learning the team,” he said. “I actually think it’s a blessing kind of being able to sit back and look at it from a different lens. I think it will help me when I come back and hopefully help the team.”

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