At the trade deadline in 2011, Indiana almost had a huge deal in their hands: Memphis Grizzlies shooting guard OJ Mayo in exchange for Josh McRoberts. Imagine where the Pacers could have been this year if they had Mayo? Maybe they could have beaten the Miami Heat?
However, the deal reportedly fell apart when the third team needed for cap purposes (New Orleans) backed out. Another deal was seemingly close to completion this past December, but reportedly fizzled after David Morway tried forcing Brandon Rush into the trade.
Regardless, the Pacers have clearly demonstrated their interest in Mayo specifically. And as they enter this year’s off-season, they are reportedly looking for solid role players. Mayo, who is a restricted free agent this summr, could be one. He is a solid shooter, can create his own shot off the dribble, and has shown an ability to play pretty good defense at time.
As such, he is likely to draw multiple suitors. Will the Pacers try to land him again?
In my opinion, I believe they should. There are really not a lot of guys on Indiana’s roster now who can create their own shot. Mayo is one of those guys. He can hit three. He’s learned to hit the big shots since he first stepped foot on an NBA court. The want is obvious. The big question is how much money they would want to spend on him.
Mayo isn’t a superstar by any means. However, many teams are looking to get their hands on him and lure him away from Memphis. The Chicago Bulls, for example, reportedly have been interested and there are likely other teams that may be willing to overpay him. Meanwhile, you can bet on the fact the Grizzlies won’t overpay and just let him walk.
How much, then, is Mayo worth? I would probably say between $7 to $10 million per year. Would Indiana even take the chance? They’ll likely have to pay Roy Hibbert around a $12 million annual salary. They may have enough cap space to also add Mayo, but is it worth it? Especially with George Hill’s free agency also pending this summer.
And that is where the questions of trades come up. Darren Collison has been involved of speculation of being traded on draft day. Adding to the fact of Kevin Pritchard being the new GM, and his past of making trades, there’s a good chance he is at least considering moving up.
However, would it be ideal to trade Danny Granger? We all know Granger was a bit overpaid when the Pacers re-signed after his career-season in the 2008-09 season. He’s been involved into trade scenarios since then, but Larry Bird has kept him out of it. However, if Indiana would want to get a guy like Mayo and pay him well, it seems like Granger could be the odd man out.
With that, Mayo would be slotted into the two-guard while Paul George moves back to his natural position of small forward. Personally, I think there is a problem with that. I still think George isn’t quite ready yet, and it showed during the Miami series. Indiana still needs Granger, no doubt, so it looks like we can keep those trades out of the way.
So really, if the Pacers do try signing Mayo, they may not have enough cap room to get anyone else after that. He would be huge help, but the question is how much would Indiana pay to get him.