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.