Day 1 of NBA free agency on Friday was an unprecedented start to what will become the most lucrative offseason in the history of the sport.
The increase from $70M to $94M in team cap space has given owners the ability to offer substantial contracts to many players who would’ve never sniffed $20M per year under the previous salary cap.
Two of those beneficiaries are former Ohio State Buckeyes Mike Conley and Evan Turner. Conley re-signed with the Memphis Grizzlies for a five-year, $153 million deal. Turner etched a four-year, $75 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Conley’s deal marks the richest in NBA history, which could be surpassed by free agents LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
Conley is now bringing in more money per year than any other point guard in the NBA despite never being named an All-Star. Since being drafted at No. 4 overall in the 2007 NBA draft by the Grizzlies, Conley has widely been regarded as the league’s most underrated point guard.
He has averaged 15.7 points per game and 5.9 assists per game over the last four seasons with the Grizzlies. His season was cut short after 56 games because of an Achilles injury.
Conley played one season at OSU and averaged 11.3 ppg and 6.1 apg in 2006-07, leading the Buckeyes to their first NCAA final since 1962.
Turner played with the Celtics the last two seasons averaging 10.5 ppg, 4.4 apg, 4.9 rebounds per game in 2015-16 as Boston’s sixth man.
Portland will be Turner’s fourth team in the NBA since being selected No. 2 overall by Philadelphia in 2010.
Turner was AP Player of the Year in 2009-10 with OSU averaging 20.4 ppg, 6.0 apg and 9.2 rpg.