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O.J. Mayo is no longer a Memphis Grizzlies player. That is known.

What is not known is what effect that will have on the Grizzlies going forward.

It is also known that the Grizzlies relinquished their rights to match any offer for Mayo. That means that the team who traded the draft rights to Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins for Mayo, Adriana Lima’s husband Marko Jaric and Greg Buckner, have nothing remaining from that trade. Kevin Love is currently playing for the U.S. National team in London. Mike Miller was a pivotal bench player in the Miami Heat’s run to this year’s NBA Championship. Brian Cardinal was a contributor on last year’s NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks.

Greg Buckner left after one season in Memphis. Adriana Lima never even came to Memphis to watch Marko sit on the bench (still my saddest moment as a Grizzlies fan). And it seems the Grizzlies got nothing for Mayo leaving to play for a divisional rival.

On paper this looks like a really bad trade for the Grizzlies. Two NBA titles and a potential Gold Medal at the Olympics not to mention a super model snub for nothing? Ouch.

Of course that is a very simplistic view of what has happened during the Mayo era in Memphis. First, neither Miller nor Cardinal won titles in Minnesota who the Grizzlies traded for Mayo. Second, The Grizzlies fans came back with the acquisition of Mayo. Finally, the Grizzlies won a higher percentage of games over a 2 year time frame than any team in Memphis or Grizzlies history and the team finally tasted playoff success after going 0-12 their first 3 trips to the post-season. Mayo was a major factor in all of those things.

Mayo almost single-handedly turned the nation’s heads toward the Bluff City. He brought instant respectability to the franchise only a year earlier called a minor league farm club by reputable members of the media and had Gregg Popovich publicly questioning whether the team’s front office shouldn’t have some sort of executive committee reviewing their trade ideas.

(After watching the debacle that was the Chris Paul trade I doubt anyone one in the NBA wants the league signing off on trades anymore)

So what does it mean going forward? Will the franchise survive? The Grizzlies are attempting to replace Mayo with  Jerryd Bayless who will be playing for his 4th team in five NBA seasons. If Bayless can’t get the job done as the primary bench scorer, will the Grizzlies turn to Marreese Speights? Darrell Arthur? Josh Selby? Wayne Ellington?

I actually believe Wayne Ellington could fill Marko Jaric’s shoes with the team (see photo on the left) but O.J. Mayo’s? Mayo averaged 18 ppg his first two seasons in the league. While those numbers dropped once he moved to the bench, he still managed to be the leading scoring threat for a Grizzlies team that was a dominant NBA team the last two seasons.

The Grizzlies have some NBA talent coming off the bench this year but none of these players have shown the capacity to be a reliable bench scorer in the NBA. Which raises an interesting question.

Is it better to have one great bench scorer and the rest subpar role players or to have numerous solid role players but no great scorer?

The Grizzlies hope it’s the latter rather than the former.



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10 Responses to What Does Mayo Leaving Mean?

  1. AndyNo Gravatar says:

    Not to be that guy but I think you mixed yourself up in that last paragraph, Chip

  2. ChrisNo Gravatar says:

    Honestly — presuming everyone stays healthy — its probably better to have 1 great bench scorer. Unfortunately that was never OJ; he never fully embraced the 6th man and, really, never embraced the fact that he’s not a PG. He was very good. He was professional. But never consistently great.

    The fact that Memphis may be better off is a testament to Wallace.

    It is simultaneously maddening and truly impressive that the Griz managed to turn Kyle Lowry, the #3 pick in 2008, and the #2 pick in the #2009 draft into absolutely nothing (or in Thabeet’s case, less than nothing)and yet they are top-tier competitive with only one mildly-bad contract (Rudy). Infuriating and amazing.

    But what we’re left with is an entire team who (I think) knows and embraces their role, is highly-competitive, has a distinct identity, and appreciates the opportunity the organizatin has given them / wants to be in Memphis. There can’t be more than a half-dozen franchises in the NBA who can check all those boxes. Go Griz!

    • StevedNo Gravatar says:

      Agreed. It is truly impressive that an organisation that is so poor at drafting talent recently, despite fantastic picks, has developed into such a deep and formidable unit.

  3. AcehighNo Gravatar says:

    @Chris, very good points made there.

    Also don’t forget the first round pick that we traded for Ronnie Brewer, who suited up for all of a handful of games for us. That pick turned out to be Donatas Motiejunas (who it remains to be seen how he turns out), but could have been Kenneth Faried. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, and while it is frustrating that we have seen such solid pieces evaporate from our roster without adequate compensation, the team has been successful and exciting enough to make the fans if not forget about it, look the other way. Okay, maybe not Thabeet…

    However, this has taken a bit of luck and a lot of lightning in our bottle. I’m not saying this in any way to downplay the wonderful job that the front office has done, but who saw Hollins, Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, and to some extent Zach Randolph, panning out as brilliantly as they have for us? What I’m getting at, is you don’t always get as admirable results as we have enjoyed as of late when you roll the dice. In order to be a sustainable success story from this point forward as a franchise, we will likely have to be a bit more responsible and careful with our assets. Supported by a smaller market coupled with a new regime of ownership, this franchise likely lacks the grounding and financial backing to sustain another storm of down years that could result from a mismanagement of assets gone wrong. We’ve been very fortunate thus far, but don’t want to make a habit of relying on the winds of fortune to blow in our favor.

    Regarding the loss of Mayo, I’m hoping that out of Bayless, Selby, and Ellington, at least one will emerge as a key contributor for the team this season. And Wroten a year or two after that. Our reserve backcourt situation has a vast potential of possible outcomes ranging from the best the Grizzlies have ever had, to an absolute mess. Should be an exciting year, nonetheless.

    Go Grizz!

    • StevedNo Gravatar says:

      You could say the same about Arthur and Speights. Both have done better than expected with the Grizz. Perhaps the Grizz organisation is better than others at getting mid-talent players to perform well.

  4. AndyNo Gravatar says:

    We still have our amnesty cut, too! I’d hate to need it, but I’d still rather have it than be the Rockets with Asik and Lin’s megadeals on the books without a bailout.

  5. Lee Eric SmithNo Gravatar says:

    For all the so-called draft foibles, the main thing that has contributed to team success these recent years is CONSISTENCY IN THE FRONT OFFICE AND COACHING STAFF. Don’t forget we were changing coaches like underwear for a while there — like every 18 months, mid-season. Can’t establish continuity or an identity that way.

    With Chris Wallace working a long term plan, and Hollins installing a clear style of play, you don’t have players learning coaching systems from the new guy in January; you don’t have the coach trying to put square pegs in round holes (Imagine Zach & Marc trying to run in Mike D’Antoni’s high octane fast break offense. Sure they’d have SOME success, but that style of play wouldn’t maximize their talents).

    And guys know how to play with and off of each other. Now we’re filling in around the edges. I like it.

    To Chip’s questions: I LIKE our new look bench. Bayless should be solid, but I’m really interested in how Hollins will use the DA/Mo combo down low. Both those guys shoot that elbow jumper with ridiculous accuracy, and if Bayless, Selby, Ellington & QPon can just be league average from three, that second unit can be seriously potent with a different style of play.

    And, cross your fingers, hopefully this is the year we get a healthy starting five, with no serious injuries. Is this the year the bear roars?

  6. AndyNo Gravatar says:

    Steved, they’re megadeals exactly because they average around 8 million annually. That’s twice what they owed Luis Scola, who they just amnestied. The Rockets spent all summer cleansing their books to get Dwight, and giving Mike Conley-esque deals to a backup and a guy you cut 8 months ago is a huge step backwards.

    Don’t forget, they gave Lin a backloaded deal that pays him 14.5 million in the third year. That helps them absorb bad contracts that expire within the next 2 years, but if he doesn’t pan out, that salary will make him nearly impossible to move.

    No matter how you slice a bicycle, Daryl Morey is still genuinely insane.

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