Ahead of his first NBA playoff experience with the Utah Jazz, veteran point guard Mike Conley left the Orlando bubble Sunday morning to return to Columbus, Ohio, for the birth of his son, the team announced.
A source told ESPN that Conley plans to rejoin the Jazz at some point in the playoffs.
For approved departures from the NBA bubble, if a player leaves for fewer than seven days and tests negative on each day that he is not inside the bubble, he would have to quarantine for four days upon returning.
The Jazz face the Denver Nuggets in the first round, with Game 1 set for 1:30 p.m. ET Monday (ESPN).
“My first reaction is my best wishes to Mike Conley and his family. I hope everything goes well,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “… If Mike Conley is not available for Game 1, whatever it is, I am sure other guys will step up. We were able to go into Utah this year and win with seven guys. I don’t buy into that too much. If Mike Conley is not available, that means more Donovan Mitchell, who is an all-NBA-caliber player.”
Conley posted a photo of the newborn, named Elijah Michael Conley, on social media Sunday.
A post shared by MIKE CONLEY (@mac10) on Aug 16, 2020 at 3:59pm PDT
Since the restart, Conley has averaged 18 points and five assists per game after struggling earlier in the season with his shooting.
Utah is also playing without second-leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic, who underwent surgery on his right wrist.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder said Conley, who spent his first 12 seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, was just starting to feel comfortable in his new situation after the league suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Any time you go through change at whatever capacity in life, there are challenges,” Snyder said after Saturday’s practice. “And Mike probably went through as much change over the course of this offseason than certainly anyone I’ve ever coached. Playing with new personnel, playing in a new city, having been in Memphis for his whole career, which was a long, great career there, and not starting over, but trying to process all of the things that were new.”
ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk contributed to this report.