Rumors surfaced over the last few days that Memphis Grizzlies shooting guard, O.J. Mayo, could possibly be traded to the Knicks. Josh Sage shares his thoughts:If you don’t know much about the 3rd pick in the 2008 draft, here are a few quick facts. Ovinton J’Anthony Mayo is a 6’4″, 23 year old, pure scorer. He’s averaged 17.2 ppg, on 44% shooting from the field for his young career, 38% from beyond the arc, which is better than all but three current Knicks. His rookie season he averaged 18.5 points, 3.2 assists, and 1.1 steals per game, causing many to question if he should have been taken ahead of Beasley as the 2nd pick that year. His career numbers have taken a slight dip this season, due to the mess of a coaching staff in Memphis who are only giving the kid 29 minutes a night.
While O.J. is not known for his defense, by all accounts he’s a hard working kid, so it’s possible he could grow as a defender under the right coach. Yeah, I know, we don’t have that kind of coach right now, but that could change in the future. In the meantime, Mike D’Antoni can do for Mayo what he did for David Lee and Wilson Chandler: help him refine his offensive game and turn him into an All-Star caliber player. Given his rookie season, or the 17.5 ppg he put up his sophomore year, it shouldn’t take much to turn this boy into an All-Star.
Almost a week ago, Chris Tomasson reported that O.J. Mayo felt his value (as a player heading into contract negotiations) could be hurt by his move to the bench. Memphis coach, Lionel Hollins, explains the move as necessary due to the team’s lack of depth, creating a need for bench scoring. Since becoming a member of the second unit, Mayo has averaged around 8.9 points per game, including a three game stretch where he averaged just 4 points per contest. The situation might have hit a boiling point as Hollins has grown tired of answering questions about Mayo’s decreased minutes and new role.
To make matters worse, the Grizzlies have $76.4 million dollars committed to the team this season. With Rudy Gay and Mike Conley Jr. signed to lucrative deals, do the Grizz really have enough money left to extend both Mayo and starting center Marc Gasol? Don’t forget that starting PF Zach Randolph is on the final year of his current deal and has been a vital part of this young Memphis team that looks to make the playoffs for the first time since Pau Gasol led them there during the 2004-2005 season. The blogosphere seems to agree with me as a report surfaced that a source close to Mayo’s family believes the 3rd year guard could be moved this week, with the Knicks being a potential landing spot.
Now many Knicks fans will see this news and whine about our salary cap for this coming off-season. Mayo is making $4.46 million this season and is set to make $5.6 million next year in the final year of his rookie deal. Don’t fret people, adding a talent like Mayo can only strengthen the Knicks’ position in their continuous trade talks with Denver about Carmelo Anthony. If New York trades for Mayo and if he pans out, then the Knicks would have a pool of Landry Fields, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov and Anthony Randolph to choose from in any potential deals with Denver for Carmelo [Editor's Note: although in that scenario we would have already traded at least one of those guys away to get Mayo. Separate concern: if Melo ends up not being traded and instead just becomes a free agent in the summer, we might not be able to offer him a max contract, depending on whom we would have given away for Mayo]. The loss of any one of those players would be overcome by the addition of Carmelo and Mayo, who could potentially transition seamlessly into the Knicks starting rotation.
For those Knicks fans that are reading this and complaining about Mayo’s current stat line … just how well was Michael Beasley playing last season? Look at Beasley now! I was looking for the Knicks to make the move to acquire Beasley this past off-season, because I saw his offensive talents, and because Miami was dumb enough to give him away for nothing. The Knicks made the mistake of not going after him and now the worst GM in the NBA is reaping the benefits from it [Ed's note: well, we don't know actually if the Knicks didn't go after Beas, only that we didn't end up getting him. Teams tend to prefer to trade potentially good players to the opposite conference. Add in the New York-Miami past, and I'd imagine that the Heat would've been particularly hesitant about giving away a talent to the Knicks who could come back to bite 'em in the butt four times a year]. All the Timberwolves had to give Miami for the services of Michael Beasley was two second-round draft picks. I highly doubt that’s what Memphis will be asking for in exchange for Mayo since they aren’t in any pressing need to shed salary right away like Miami was at the time. However, their asking price for Mayo shouldn’t be high at all given his recent poor play, the inability of the coaching staff to judge the talent on their roster and the history of failure of that front office, specifically their owner [Ed's note: I disagree that their asking price will be low. They know he's got talent, and with him still on a relatively reasonable rookie salary, there's no reason for them to give up on him unless they get some genuinely decent property in return. I think they more likely give up on Hollins. Teams don't normally (or easily) give up on a top 3 pick who averaged 17+ his first two years, even if he's been awful the first two months of his third season. Unless Memphis gets a nice haul, don't expect Mayo to be traded this season. Plus, the "source" that said they think Mayo will end up in New York is cited as being a close friend of the family. Often players don't realize they've been traded until they hear it in the news, so chances that a friend of the family would have legit promising knowledge seems slim.]
Mayo is a talented scorer, undersized for his position, but talented nonetheless. If Memphis makes the same mistake with Mayo that Miami made with Beasley, then Donnie would be twice the fool for letting another golden opportunity pass him by.
Let’s hope the Knicks can pull off a Pau here!