All-Star Weekend has come and gone, which means that the trade winds that constantly swirl around the NBA are beginning to grow in intensity as the trade deadline draws ever closer. March 15 is only two weeks away, after all.
While the rumor mill is churning out names like Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Rajon Rondo, and Steve Nash, fans in Memphis want to know what the Grizzlies are likely to do. And I think we all know that it won’t have much to do with those big names, unless it is to act as a facilitator.
The big name for Grizz fans is, of course, Ovinton J’Anthony Mayo. (That’s O.J. to you.) His name has been in trade rumors for the last two seasons, and was allegedly almost shipped out to the Pacers — not once, but twice. So, will Mayo still be on the team come March 16?
Do you trade him, not expecting him to re-sign in the summer? Do you trade him simply to get another long-term piece that might fit in better? Do you keep him and re-sign him? All good questions — and I don’t have any better answers than anyone else at this time.
Here are my thoughts on Mayo: He’s a very talented player who has struggled to be consistent, still hasn’t fully accepted his role as a 6th man or as a shooting guard only, and because of all of that, I don’t know that the team can justify paying him more than $6-7 million per year for him to continue to play that role. A quick look at his game log tells the story. His minutes don’t vary nearly as much as his scoring output does — and he’s being paid to score.
I think that it is likely that Mayo will continue to be in Beale Street Blue for the remainder of the season. I don’t know if he’ll still be here next fall, but that’s the conundrum, isn’t it? However, what would be fair value for him if he is dealt and what should Memphis look to get in return for him? And what else are they willing to give up in addition to Mayo?
The needs of this team are well-known: 3-point shooting (which O.J. provides) and a capable backup PG (which he doesn’t). The untouchables (given that we aren’t talking about acquiring a bona fide superstar, we can use that term loosely here) are Gasol, Randolph, Gay, and Conley. The team won’t look to take on any big money, long-term deals unless it’s a player capable of being a good fit going forward. Small market teams don’t have the luxury of carrying bad contracts, after all.
So, who makes the best fit? Who will be looking to deal? Golden State is reportedly talking to anyone who will pick up the phone, but they don’t have much to offer the Grizzlies in terms of palatable contracts — and Chris Wallace would likely rather deal Mayo to the Eastern Conference anyways. The Pacers are willing to make a deal to improve their team, but don’t have anything other than George Hill to offer, which isn’t quite enough. I only see two real possibilities that make sense: Orlando and New Jersey. Coincidentally, these two teams are motivated to make moves for the same reason: Dwight Howard. One wants him, and the other wants to keep him, so they’re going to try and do something to affect that outcome.
A deal with the Magic would have to include J.J. Redick, since the long-range sniper would obviously fill a need. With two years remaining on his deal, the 27-year old’s contract isn’t a big issue. I’d like to see Chris Duhon’s steady, veteran hand come back in the deal, too. To make the numbers work, I think that the Grizzlies would need to send Mayo, the somewhat forgotten Sam Young, and the currently injured (and soon-to-be free agent) Darrell Arthur. This trade works and would seem to solve the two issues the Grizzlies are currently dealing with. A comparison of Mayo and Redick on Basketball-Reference.com for those that want to claim one is far superior to the other.
A trade with the Nets is a little more iffy, but probably more likely, too. The Grizzlies could send the same three players to New Jersey for Anthony Morrow and Jordan Farmar, as well as a 2nd round pick (because I like for Chris Wallace to have draft picks to play with whenever possible). Morrow is a good perimeter shooting threat, and Farmar is a solid backup PG. Both players are under contract through the 2012-13 season. Their 2nd round pick should be early in the round as well, so that’s another bonus.
I’m sure plenty of people will balk at including DA in a deal as something of a “throw-in”, but he’s coming off an Achilles heel injury, which means that no one knows exactly how he will perform next season. For a player that relies on explosiveness and athleticism for so much, this is a legitimate concern. Given the choice between him and Speights this offseason, most GMs would choose Speights solely based on the issue of health. That’s how it works in the NBA.
Neither of the deals above are world-class, but both potentially fill holes that could help the Grizzlies moving forward. I wouldn’t have a problem with Chris Wallace pulling the trigger on either of them. Chime in with your own trade ideas in the comments section.