|O.J. Mayo: ‘Would’ve been an honor to play’ for Celtics||12.13.12 at 1:14 am ET|
This past April, Celtics analyst Donny Marshall claimed O.J. Mayo‘s refusal to play for the Celtics led to the collapse of a deal with the Grizzlies that would have brought him to Boston last season in exchange for Ray Allen and a draft pick. “Mayo basically said, ‘I don’t care about banners,’” announced Marshall.
After losing to the Celtics in double overtime on Wednesday, the current Mavericks guard denied that accusation, referencing his lack of veto power without a no-trade clause and affirming he would’ve welcomed the deal to Boston.
“I was in a good situation in Memphis at the time,” said Mayo. “Obviously, Boston is a big-time organization as well. Great players. It would’ve been an honor to play with KG [Kevin Garnett], [Paul] Pierce and [Rajon] Rondo. It would’ve been great to play with those guys and with [Celtics coach] Doc [Rivers].”
Instead, Mayo blamed the deal’s failure on an internal debate between C’s players and the front office over Allen’s future.
“I was pretty much set to come here and something fell through at the very last second,” said Mayo, who collected 24 points (10-19 FG), six rebounds, three assists and two steals in Wednesday night’s loss to the Celtics. “A couple of the guys wanted to keep Ray, and management wanted to make the trade.
|Celtics scouting report: Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo||12.12.12 at 12:31 pm ET|
If Celtics coach Doc Rivers is really “the Bill Belichick of basketball,” as Jason Terry claimed, then he’s planning to stop every opponent’s most dangerous weapon. Against the Mavericks on Wednesday night, that’s O.J. Mayo.
The fifth-year guard has averaged career highs across the board, including 20.8 points (48.7 FG%, 50.3 3P%), 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 34.9 minutes per game, leading Dirk Nowitzki-less Dallas to a surprising 11-10 start.
“O.J. Mayo’s playing off the charts,” said Rivers. “He’s shooting above 50 from the 3. What’s impressive with him, they’re running a lot of isos, and he’s guarded taking 3’s. That’s scary when you say a guy is guarded taking 3’s and he’s making over 50 percent of them. And he’s really their catalyst.”
After the NCAA vacated his brief USC career over improper benefits, Mayo played his first four NBA seasons for the Grizzlies. That roller-coaster ride began with a runner-up finish to Derrick Rose in the 2008-09 Rookie of the Year voting and ended with a sprinkling of votes for last season’s Sixth Man of the Year honor, but also featured an in-flight fight with Tony Allen over a gambling debt and a 10-game suspension for using a banned substance.
“His work ethic has definitely changed,” said Celtics guard Jason Terry. “If you hear coming out of their locker room what he’s done differently, he’s brought better work habits. He’s been there at night, and he’s coming early before the games, so I think that’s carrying over for him. He’s always been a great talent, but there’s been questions about his work ethic. Obviously, this year he’s put the work in, and it’s starting to show.”
|Grizzlies to make O.J. Mayo an unrestricted free agent||06.29.12 at 2:32 pm ET|
The Grizzlies seem to be undergoing a little bit of a transition as the reality for the contracts due to Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay are beginning to come into focus. Between them, that’s about $48 million tied up in three players for each of the next two years.
Add in Mike Conley‘s more modest but still long-term deal, and the Grizzlies are bumping up against the salary cap before they even get started, and that’s also getting into luxury tax territory.
In that context, their decision to not extend a $7.3 million qualifying offer to O.J. Mayo makes sense. The decision means that on July 1, Mayo will be an unrestricted free agent and able to sign with any team without the Grizzlies being able to match.
Mayo immediately becomes a target for the Celtics, who are looking to add some scoring punch to a bench that was one of the worst offensive units in the league. The C’s expressed their interest in Mayo at the trade deadline in a deal involving Ray Allen, but they weren’t able to complete the trade.
He will be among a group of five unrestricted free agent scoring guards that includes Ray Allen Jason Terry, Lou Williams and Jamal Crawford.
Mayo will turn 25 in November and is the youngest player in the group. Terry, Allen and Crawford are all defined players, but even after four years in the league, Mayo still appears to have untapped potential.
A starter his first two years in Memphis, Mayo averaged 18 points a game and shot 45 percent from the floor and 38 percent from 3-point range. He moved to a reserve role in his third year and his numbers dropped to 40 percent from the floor and 36 percent from 3-point range. He’s settled into a perimeter-oriented role that may have been a function of Memphis’ offensive design as much as anything.
Mayo also is intriguing to the Celtics because he offers a dimension they’ve lacked over the years: the ability to create his own shot. He ranked seventh among shooting guards who played more than 25 minutes in Usage Rate, per Hoop Data, while remaining a decent playmaker. He’s also a good defensive rebounder for his position.
As it stands, Mayo is a solid NBA player who can help a team. But what if there’s more?
Here’s the tough part for the Celtics. If Kevin Garnett comes back, they will be looking to re-sign their other free agents using their Bird rights. That will take them over the cap and into interesting territory.
One of the main provisions of the new collective bargaining agreement is a stiffer penalty for teams that go over the luxury tax, estimated to be around $70 million. Not only will teams be charged more money (See Larry Coon’s invaluable Salary Cap FAQ for a chart), they also are subject to lesser exceptions than teams that are over the cap but under the tax line.
In plainer language, teams that are under the tax line can offer the full mid-level exception: a four-year deal worth starting at $5 million annually. Teams that are over the tax line can only offer a three-year deal starting at $3 million. The difference in total is around $11 million.
There’s no guarantee that the mid-level would even be enough for Mayo or that he’d want to come to Boston, where he’d likely come off the bench behind Avery Bradley. (It would, however, be an interesting combination, and the starter designation may not ultimately matter if it ever happened.)
Regardless, if the C’s are going to get into the running for players like Mayo they’ll have to be creative. First, by making sure the price tag on their free agents keeps them under the tax, and second, with the possibility of a sign-and-trade. Unless, of course, Garnett doesn’t come back, and that’s a whole other story.
Either way, the free agent class just got a little more interesting.
|2012-13 Celtics free agent options at shooting guard||06.26.12 at 5:38 pm ET|
Two-thirds of the Celtics roster that came within a game of reaching a third NBA finals in five years joins NBA free agency on July 1. Anyone from Kevin Garnett to Keyon Dooling can leave Boston on July 11 once the league’s audit determines the salary cap, expected to approach the 2011-12 number of $58 million. We’re examining the C’s free agent options at each position. Now starting: Shooting guards (Also see: Centers).
The Celtics began last season with Ray Allen and a prayer at the two. Avery Bradley answered that prayer, making Allen expendable if the asking price is too high. Or if he takes his talents to South Beach for the taxpayer’s midlevel exception, accepting a $7 million paycut to sit behind Dwyane Wade and fill the 3-point specialist role already played by Mike Miller, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers and James Jones, as one rumor suggests.
While Dooling, Mickael Pietrus, Sasha Pavlovic and Marquis Daniels all played somewhat out of position to eat shooting guard minutes as the result of injuries to both Allen and Bradley — and all four remain possibilities as free agents themselves — the C’s need one or two guys who can play the two alongside Bradley.
The Celtics have four players under guaranteed contracts in 2012-13 for a combined $34.5 million (Paul Pierce, $16.8M; Rajon Rondo, $11.0M; Bradley, $1.6M; JaJuan Johnson, $1.1M). Pending decisions on or by Garnett, Allen, Pietrus, Dooling, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox, Greg Stiemsma and Ryan Hollins, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will have anywhere from $0-33 million to spend in free agency.
As a result, expect the C’s to be linked to just about any and every free agent on the market. Nobody is out of their league. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at shooting guard, separating the current free agent players into four categories.
|Irish Coffee: The rise of Avery Bradley’s offense||04.18.12 at 12:02 pm ET|
Lost in the rubble of a 3-point barrage that left a 118-110 loss to the Knicks in its dust lay another stellar offensive performance from newest Celtics starter Avery Bradley.
By now, everyone knows of Bradley’s defensive exploits, but his shooting of late has been downright Ray Allen-esque. That’s not to say Bradley is a clone of the man he’s replaced in the starting lineup, but his 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting against the Knicks — including 5-of-6 from long distance — can’t be ignored.
In 15 games since joining Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett in the first five on March 25 (with the exception of an 87-86 loss to the Spurs), Bradley is averaging 14.2 points while shooting 53.1 percent from the field (86-162 FG), 56.7 percent from beyond the arc (17-30 3P) and 85.7 percent from the line (24-28 FT). He’s reached double figures in 11 of those 15 games, including the last four.
|Glen Davis to join Zach Randolph, Stephen Jackson and other NBA players in Baton Rouge Pro-Am Classic||09.07.11 at 1:48 pm ET|
While plenty of hype appropriately surrounds the two-week Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series — which includes Celtics Jermaine O’Neal and Avery Bradley among 40 NBA players already committed — free agent forward Glen Davis will be competing against some stellar competition of his own, at a more unlikely location.
Big Baby will join Louisiana State University alumni Marcus Thornton (a restricted free agent), Anthony Randolph (Timberwolves) and Ronald Dupree (D-League’s Utah Flash) as well as a host of other NBA talents in the Baton Rouge Pro-Am Classic on Saturday and Sunday.
Grizzlies O.J. Mayo and Zach Randolph, Bucks swingman Stephen Jackson and retired four-time NBA All-Star Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway are also expected to participate in the tournament, scheduled to tip off at 9 a.m. on the Baton Rouge Community College campus. Proceeds from the $5 to $15 tickets will benefit the BRCC men’s and women’s basketball programs.
Of course, Davis is among many other Celtics who have trained with Impact Basketball over the years — including Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. That “Lockout League” is scheduled to begin on Sept. 12, so Davis would be available to play in Las Vegas, too. Perhaps he could catch a ride with Randolph and Jackson, who like O’Neal and Bradley are among the 40 players already committed.
Pierce is slated to play alongside fellow University of Kansas alumni in the now sold out Legends of the Phog exhibition on Sept. 24, the day after the Lockout League’s scheduled championship game. Likewise, Rondo is committed to appear at Red Bull’s King of the Rock 1-on-1 basketball tournament on Alcatraz Sept. 24 — so he and Pierce may also be available to participate in Las Vegas.