Utah Jazz starting point guard Mike Conley Jr. left the NBA campus for the birth of his son and will miss at least the first two games of the first-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets.
The team said Conley left the Orlando area on Sunday for Columbus, Ohio.
This was not unexpected. Conley and Jazz coach Quin Snyder addressed the topic on conference calls with reporters in early July.
“Let me say, first of all, that I hope we’re without him for as long as he needs to be (away) to prioritize something that is a gift,” Snyder said on July 5. “I’m glad he’s going to be there. I don’t think it’s even a hope to be there. I think he needs to be there, and he knows that, and he agrees.”
Mike Conley and the Jazz face the Denver Nuggets in the NBA playoffs. (Photo: Kevin C. Cox, USA TODAY Sports)
Conley’s wife, Mary, was due to give birth on Aug. 27, and Conley had been making plans to be with her knowing he would miss games.
“Ultimately, my wife understands how much this game means and how much just being able to participate and play for championship means,” Conley told reporters. “And we have an understanding that I’ll be able to see her and I’ll be able to, at some point, hopefully be able to be back for the baby and all that stuff. So as long as all that was answered, and the Ts are crossed and Is are dotted on that situation, I was more and more comfortable going, knowing that I’d be able to be back with them at some point.”
The NBA has specific protocols for players who leave the campus for an excused event, such as a funeral, illness or birth of a child.
If a player leaves campus for an approved reason, undergoes daily COVID-19 testing and returns negative tests, the quarantine period is just four days.
Game 1 of Jazz-Nuggets is Monday, Game 2 is Wednesday and Game 3 is Friday. If Conley returned to the Disney campus on Monday, he could be back for Friday’s game. But there’s a chance he also misses Game 3.
The Jazz acquired Conley in the offseason to improve their offense and make a deeper run in the playoffs. However, because COVID-19 suspended the season and altered the NBA schedule, the Jazz will be without him for the start of the series.
Conley has averaged 18 points and five assists during the restart in the bubble.
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