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Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley says he felt some guilt after the team fired coach David Fizdale this past season.
Conley only played in 12 games due to a left heel injury and, as a result, the Grizzlies endured one of their worst seasons in franchise history.
Fizdale had a rocky relationship with center Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies fired Fizdale at 7-12 and a day after he benched Gasol for the fourth quarter of an eighth straight loss.
“It was tough because I knew the reason we lost nine in a row is because I wasn’t out there, and wasn’t able to play and I really put him in a tough situation,” Conley told Yahoo Sports’ Michael Lee. “I said, ‘Man, I hate this happened. I feel like I’m a part of the reason this happened.’ He was like, ‘Aw, Mike, man, naw. It had nothing to do with you, you know that. Without you, we still should win games.’ I still felt some guilt for it. He assured me he’s good and that’s all that matters at the end of the day, being in New York now. So I’m thankful to have had him as a coach.”
Conley underwent surgery to smooth a small bone protrusion in his left heel in January and missed the rest of the 2017-18 season. The 30-year-old averaged 17.1 points and 4.1 assists while shooting 38.1 percent from the field and 31.2 percent from three in the 12 games he appeared in.
The Grizzlies went 50-51 in the 101 regular season games Fizdale was coach. They made the playoffs in 2017 and lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the first-round in six games.
Conley averaged a career-high 20.5 points per game in Fizdale’s first season as coach.
“Fiz was huge for me,” Conley said. “He unlocked a different part of my game that otherwise I hadn’t been able to showcase and show.”
Conley says he’s feeling good and on course to be ready for training camp in September.
“I’m doing really well,” Conley said. “I should be ready to go by training camp. I expect to be ready.”