Who’s to blame?
Who is responsible for the no-go on a trade that would have sent Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for forward Josh McRoberts and Indiana’s first-round pick?
Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley blamed the Pacers, reportedly saying they took too much time trying to organize a concurrent deal that would have sent guard Brandon Rush to the New Orleans Hornets.
The Pacers argued that Memphis pulled out of the deal at the last minute.
Whoever is at fault, the deal didn’t get done.
By Drew Allen
Indiana now must take its current roster — including its once-useful expiring contracts in Mike Dunleavy, Jeff Foster and T.J. Ford — down the stretch run and possibly into the playoffs.
Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Honestly, I don’t really know.
Acquiring Mayo for McRoberts and a first-rounder (which quite possibly could have been a mid-first, non-lottery pick if the Pacers made the playoffs) could have been a steal. Mayo showed incredible promise as a rookie in 2008-09, averaging 18.49 points per game for the Grizzlies after being selected third overall in the previous summer’s NBA draft.
One could argue that a logjam on the perimeter in Memphis has contributed to Mayo’s diminished playing time and scoring; the Grizzlies also had Rudy Gay, Tony Allen, Sam Young and Xavier Henry attempting to do much of their damage from beyond the arc.
In Mayo, the Pacers could have obtained a true “two-guard” and a proven scorer to slide in where Dunleavy and Rush have normally started amid injuries and inconsistency. The former USC standout would have eliminated some of the cap space Indiana would have had in summer 2011, but would there be any free agency with the labor uncertainty, and if so, would many difference-making free agents be interested in joining the Pacers?
Darren Collison, Mayo, Danny Granger, Tyler Hansbrough and Roy Hibbert starting with Paul George coming off the bench? That sounds like a nice young nucleus to me.
But on the flip side, could Mayo have been more trouble than he’s worth?
As recently as this season, the 23-year-old has raised red flags to an already troubling career. He tested positive for DHEA in late January and was suspended for 10 games. The Pacers already have dealt with a drug suspension this season with Rush (not to mention they still have the Lance Stephenson charges looming), but Mayo has a much more colored past than his 2008 NBA draft mate. Anyone remember Tim Floyd?
Another question: Do the Pacers need to make trades right now, future plans aside? Since the dismissal of former coach Jim O’Brien, Indiana has gone 9-3. Interim coach Frank Vogel has implemented as consistent a rotation as he could with Dunleavy being sidelined indefinitely, and the players have bought into his style; this is evidenced in the Pacers’ beating inferior opponents to whom they might have lost under O’Brien.
In addition, all signs have indicated that Rush has flourished under Vogel since returning from injury, regaining his spot in the starting lineup. Given Rush’s history, that might not last, but then a new voice might beckon the third-year player to finally add consistency to his immense talent.
In closing, I am not sure whether the trade for O.J. Mayo would have worked out for Indiana. One thing I do know, though, is that if the Pacers wanted to make this trade and indeed missed the deadline as Heisley accused them of doing, that puts a huge amount of pressure on team president Larry Bird.
If this failed trade was Indiana’s fault, the team has to make the playoffs this year — which they very well might — or there won’t be any way to justify re-signing Bird after the season.Follow paulmbanks