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O J Mayo is an exceptionally talented player. I am not implying, suggesting or hinting that he is anything but that.

However, is that enough of a reason to trade him this season?

Mayo is not expected to resign with Memphis this offseason. His qualifying offer for next season is in the neighborhood of $7.4 million. That’s over $200,000 more than Mike Conley’s contract pays him next season. With Gasol, Gay and Randolph all making close to maximum pay the idea of paying Mayo more than the team’s starting PG seems unlikely. The Grizzlies also have RFA’s in Darrell Arthur, Sam Young and Marreese Speights that need to be addressed in the off-season. The Grizzlies will likely want to resign at least one of these players.  The summer of 2013 will see Tony Allen as a restricted free agent as well.

This leaves very few options for the Grizzlies.

1)     Move Mayo Before the Trade Deadline -
By trading Mayo the team will get something of value back and put the risk of not resigning him on the receiving team’s shoulders. This is the most common move of teams in similar situations. New Orleans did this very thing with Chris Paul this past off-season when they traded him to Los Angeles for Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and draft picks for Paul. It is rumored that with Orlando’s troubles this season they will do the same with Dwight Howard.

For the Grizzlies, the issue in this situation is what value to place on Mayo. He doesn’t have the NBA resume of Chris Paul or Dwight Howard. Mayo started his career hot but has faded noticeably of late including being suspended for taking reported Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) and losing his starters role on the team. Last season the Grizzlies looked to move Mayo for Josh McRoberts and a draft pick. Rumors were that the Grizzlies had entertained thoughts of trading Mayo for Anthony Morrow or Jordan Farmar this season (possibly with a draft pick included). These are not haughty demands for a player taken with the 3rd pick in the draft.

The problem is that trading Mayo, since the Grizzlies are over the cap, involves receiving some sort of salary in return. The Grizzlies want to free up finances this summer not restrict more money. This reason alone makes it difficult to deal with the Grizzlies for Mayo. A team would need to offer a player that fills a need and/or has an expiring contract. For New Jersey this was a problem since they want Mayo’s contract to expire to free up cap space to make a run at Dwight Howard this summer. They didn’t want to let go of expiring contracts for Mayo.

Another issue with trading Mayo mid-season is the need to work another new player into the rotation. Mayo is capable of producing every game at any time. A new player will need to learn the Grizzlies defensive and offensive sets, learn how the team ticks and build chemistry with his new teammates. That doesn’t always happen right away.

2)     Trade Mayo This Summer
This act, called a  sign and trade deal, involves Mayo finding a contract with another team, then signing with the Grizzlies anticipating a trade to the true team he wants to play for in exchange for assets.

The problem here is similar to the previous option. The Grizzlies don’t want to take on more salary. They are trying to eliminate salary to resign other players. The Grizzlies have their starting lineup locked up for the 2012-13 season. They need flexibility to fill out the reserves for next season. If Mayo is destined to be moved the sign and trade must include a lower cost player who will fill the need for a scorer with range coming off the bench.

3)     Extend the Qualifying Offer
By extending Mayo the Qualifying Offer they are taking a risk that he accepts it immediately but that isn’t the usual situation for free agents. Any injury during the next season could ruin his ability to get a long term deal. More likely Mayo would prefer to see what his talents can garner in the open market.

For the Grizzlies, Mayo is a luxury. The Grizzlies have Sam Young, Quincy Pondexter and even Josh Selby who could fill in as backup SGs next season (assuming Young re-signs) and all are paid far less than Mayo for the opportunity.

None of the players are as talented as Mayo offensively but they all are serviceable. Signing Mayo to a contract that exceeds Conley makes little sense but Mayo probably believes he can command that much in the open market. It would take a great sales job to convince Mayo to accept less than his qualifying offer to remain with the team next season, especially in a backup role.

4)     Fail to Extend the Qualifying Offer
If the Grizzlies simply admit that Mayo is not part of their future plans they can simply refuse to make the Qualifying Offer or pull the qualifying offer if it has already been made making him an unrestricted free agent.

This would likely be a terrible public relations move. Mayo has a lot of support among Memphis fans and simply allowing him to walk could upset them. Then again, getting anything for Mayo likely will upset his fans who believe his value is greater than the team can receive in compensation. The decision to not offer Mayo the Qualifying Offer would likely revolve around the team’s first round draft pick situation. A lottery pick, especially a top 3 pick, could make Mayo expendable with nothing received in return.

The real issue is can the Grizzlies afford to not let Mayo walk? By freeing up the cap hold the Grizzlies would still be above the salary cap but far more likely to be able to resign other team free agents such as Sam Young, Marreese Speights and/or Darrell Arthur. The Grizzlies could let all those players contracts expire but in doing so would likely be over the salary cap anyway. That restricts the team to only using a mid-level exception to sign one free agent. Anyone else signed would need to be done at the league minimum.

What the team is more concerned about is the luxury tax. Mayo resigning at the qualifying offer level would put the Grizzlies over the luxury tax threshold. This coming season it is a simple dollar for dollar penalty but the following season that rises to higher penalties depending on how far above the cap you are. It was reported recently that the Grizzlies were the 2nd least profitable team in the league last season. Can the team afford to incur even more expenses for a role player off the bench?

Of course, this all assumes Mayo is unable to regain his starting role or is viewed as a starter despite coming off the bench. That is a serious question. Last season Allen was the team’s defensive force but at 30 how many more years does he have? He already is losing minutes to Mayo. That trend likely will continue next season and beyond.

 

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16 Responses to O J Mayo: What is the True Value to the Grizzlies?

  1. choppasizzNo Gravatar says:

    After last night it is obvious that OJ provides MORE value than MC JR. Paying Mayo is the ONLY option if the Grizz want to succeed. They made a mistake by not extending him before the deadline IMO. This team was ready to implode if that three doesn’t drop at the end of OT,

    • Chip CrainNo Gravatar says:

      And Mayo doesn’t get that shot if not for Tony Allen and Mike ,inlet grabbing offensive rebounds and MC Jr making the pass to Mayo.

      It’s a team game. All five guys on the court and everyone who played contributed but is was a sweet shot by Mayo

    • Grizz2202No Gravatar says:

      I’m not sure what you’ve been watching for the past two years, but have you seen what the team looks like when MC Jr is not on the floor? I’d say monkeys humping a football, but that’d be an insult to monkeys. And footballs.

      What Mike doesn’t provide in scoring or OT 3′s, he more than makes up for in court vision, leadership, and the ability to run the offense. I love OJ, I really do. But keeping him over Mike is pure lunacy.

      • choppasizzNo Gravatar says:

        I never said keep MC over OJ. All I said was paying him upwards of 8 mil is not a dumb move by any means. If we have to pay the luxury tax, so be it, If Heisley wants to compete long term paying Juice is the ONLY option.

        BTW since we botched the Vasquez trade, is J Will available?

  2. TonyNo Gravatar says:

    If you do end up trading Mayo, you better get a backup PG … He played better in the role last night than Pargo and Selby have except for an anomaly of a game or two from either one

  3. NgmNo Gravatar says:

    There is another option. If Mayo doesn’t play more than 24 minutes per game this year he will get a lower qualifying offer (~ 4 M, not 7 M). That’s a bargain for a player like Mayo, and it gives you more time to make a decision.

  4. KD LegendNo Gravatar says:

    If Memphis moves Mayo, they better get bench help and outside shooting. Why trade our only good outside shooter? He has proven that he can be big in big games. To be honest, I might would rather him get traded to a team who appreciates what he can bring to the game. Hollins has him on a leash, particularly with playing time. Rudy gets about twice as many shots on a nightly basis, why doesn’t OJ get many of those shots? OJ has also proven to me he can be a team player, constantly making plays setting people up and moving the ball around. I still hold my belief that Mayo and Randolph should be our center pieces, and I like the way Conley has come on the past couple of years. But the big contracts have already been given to the so called “core” but its not a core that will win a championship in my eyes.

    • WC HoopsNo Gravatar says:

      I agree completely. There was a power struggle between Rudy and O.J. in the second year with OJ. I do believe that Hollins chose the wrong player. Rudy is a good player but not a franchise player. I don’t want to loose him but he might be the only answer with the way the money is divided up. Rudy @ 15 mil or OJ @ 7.5 mil. The way things are looking I get as much as i can for Rudy. Trade for a back up C & SF. Try to sign Wilson Chandler (with some of that Rudy money) when he returns.

  5. ReginaldNo Gravatar says:

    The Mayo contract is a tough issue. I mean TOUGH! He’s in a perfect role as a 6th man. He’s not the quickest guy and can’t really create his own shot but he’s a scorer/shooter that produces and has accepted his role. We NEED 12-18 points off the bench each night but unless we pay the tax, we can’t afford him. I think DA and Speights would be better long term options but to let OJ just walk?! That’s a bitter pill to swallow.
    And to the guy that says sign OJ over Conley, can’t agree with ya. Conley is the pass first guy/creator that a team with 3 scorers in the starting lineup need. IF OJ could have developed into a PG, then we wouldn’t be having this discussion. He would be the starting PG and Conley would have been traded instead of Lowry.

  6. Lee Eric SmithNo Gravatar says:

    Can’t tell if it was clearly addressed, but I think the obvious move by the Grizzlies is the one they’ve chosen year after year: Don’t make a decision before you have to. And they don’t have to make a decision before summer.

    OJ is indeed talented, but it’s not like there’s a shortage of capable shooting guards out there. The Grizzlies Standard Operating Procedure is to see what the market will offer for a player and decide then. By which time, we’ll hopefully have seen O.J. in the playoffs again, how the team performs with or without him, etc.

    But I don’t think it should be a forgone conclusion that O.J. is history in Memphis. He’s capable, he’s a fan favorite and a better defender. He likes the city and the squad, and they like him. Don’t look for a trade until this summer — if at all.

  7. KurtNo Gravatar says:

    I think its simple. Find a trade option for Rudy, extend OJ, Speights, and Arthur, cut Sam, and use our draft picks to build a deeper bench.

  8. presidentjoeNo Gravatar says:

    I believe that Grizz management made the decision to trade Mayo back when they extended Conley and Rudy. If the Grizz do not make the playoffs this year, they might want to rethink their current strategy.
    Conley is an average point guard at best. Problem is that they signed him for such a long contract it makes moving him really tough. I always thought that the best plan was to move Rudy before they signed him long term because I didn’t think he would ever be the franchise guy they wanted. OJ is more of a complete player even if he is not as athletic as Rudy. All of this would have been great if they had only drafted a pg in that draft 3 years ago and not that super albatross in Thabeet. I’m sure Hollins didn’t want to give up on Conley. Now that is done I would rather see them trade Rudy then trade Mayo.

  9. DGNo Gravatar says:

    It will be interesting to see it all unfold. I have been an OJ guy since I first saw him in his first season. However, he has his weaknesses, as well as Rudy. However, if you have OJ 37 minutes and 20 shots per night like Rudy gets then there is no way he doesn’t put up numbers at least better than Rudy’s. The problem though is that even if the Grizzies decided to trade Rudy, it will be a tough task. What team will pay $17 mil per year on Rudy now that they’ve seen he isn’t going to be that franchise team leader that everyone has hoped he would be?

  10. AlexNo Gravatar says:

    Yeah going to break my heart as a fan to watch OJ in another uniform, but he’s not better than Rudy or Mike. Rudy isn’t a guy you can build a team around, but I still believe he’ll be an excellent compliment to our twin towers when we get healthy. I love OJ, but it makes no sense financially to keep him around unless we can make it into the playoffs at full strength with a chance to make it to the WCC.

  11. andy watersNo Gravatar says:

    The people that want management to trade Rudy want to keep OJ as our franchise player? What? Sure, he’s a supreme scorer, but he doesn’t have a leadership bone in his body. Not only is he too expensive, he doesn’t fit our style of play! He has no grind! He expects to make every shot, which is fine, but he externalizes his problems. Whether it’s the refs or the boogeyman, someone is always there to take Ovinton J’Anthony off the hook. Then where do his offensive frustrations go? The defensive end, where his distracted play lets opposing twos blow buy him with ease. When he’s scoring, he locks in and plays unbelievably, but it’s too easy for pestering defensive players (Russ Westbrook, Monta Ellis, etc.) to get in his head and turn him into Dr. Hyde. In case you can’t tell, I personally want to see us trade him, preferably to the Cavs for a wing and Daniel Gibson, but I know the Griz will take the time-honored wait and see approach. My main point is that OJ will never figure prominently on a championship team until he learns to play above the defense, let the refs do their job, and PLAY DEFENSE.

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