NBA Trade Rumors: Memphis Grizzlies Won't Deal Valuable O.J. Mayo

Tom FirmeAnalyst IIJanuary 27, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 18:  O.J. Mayo #32 of the Memphis Grizzlies shoots the ball around Chris Kaman #35 of the New Orleans Hornets at New Orleans Arena on January 18, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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Once again, trade rumors involving Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo have come and gone without any action. To some, it may mean the Grizzlies are sure to trade Mayo, but are simply feeling out offers until they get the right one. On the other hand, the greater meaning is that the Grizzlies appreciate Mayo as a player and won't trade him just for the sake of trading him.

Last week, the Grizzlies had discussed a couple of different trade scenarios with the New Jersey Nets. According to The Commercial Appeal, one scenario involved Anthony Morrow going to the Grizzlies for Mayo, while another had Jordan Farmar and a draft pick going to the Grizzlies for Mayo.

By the end of the week the talks had died, according to Yahoo Sports. Apparently, the Nets, who are looking to free up salary cap space in order to pursue Dwight Howard, couldn't come up with the right offer. 

This is only the latest in the line of several trade rumors involving Mayo that didn't turn into deals. Last year, Mayo was a candidate to be part of a three-way deal where the Denver Nuggets would deal away Carmelo Anthony. In December, Mayo was rumored to be headed to the Indiana Pacers for Josh McRoberts, but that fell through after Tony Allen spread false reports via Twitter.


The Efficacy of Trade Rumor-Mongering

Some may believe the recurring trade rumors involving Mayo signal that, sooner or later, Mayo will be dealt. The train of thought is that the more the possibility is posed, the more likely it's going to happen. The more the rumors, the more believable they seem. That's how the logic goes.

However, rumors feed on themselves. A thought hits the marketplace of ideas and then people start talking about it. As steam gathers, people begin to see the rumors as being as credible as the actual trade talk.

But if the trade doesn't come to fruition, then it's nothing. The writer may have egg on his or her face, depending on how hard he or she pushed the idea or whether, as is often the case, the rumors bat down the trade talks between general managers.

Now, it seems trade rumors have crossed the line to the point where Mayo has become their trade value. Mayo's been discussed almost exclusively in terms of talk of trade rumors and speculation, which dehumanizes the guy.

Trade rumors are easy to write about, since they're trendy topics, but it's unfair to players like Mayo without serious considerations to the player.

MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 13:  O.J. Mayo #32 of the Memphis Grizzlies battles for a loose ball against Kendrick Perkins #5 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on May 13, 2011 in Memp
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While this seems hypocritical, since sports are businesses and athletes are entertainers, I often wonder if I'm treating players fairly as people when writing about the business aspect of sports. After all, black athletes have a particularly sensitive ethos concerning their aspect as a labor piece (See Michael Jordan's indignant reaction when then-Bulls general manager Jerry Krause called him his property).

With that said, the Grizzlies handle Mayo's trade status delicately, to say the least.


Michael Heisley and Chris Wallace See O.J. Mayo as A Valuable Part of Grizzlies

The Grizzlies see Mayo as an integral part of the team. Mayo is the first player off the bench. While he is a bench player, Mayo, who has played in each game this season, is fifth on the team in minutes per game (24.7).

When he's on the court, Mayo gets a good amount of touches, as he holds a 21.7 percent usage rate.

While he went to the bench last season, his value to the team didn't change. His move to the bench wasn't a demotion since Tony Allen had been signed before the 2010-'11 season to provide a defensive boost. Mayo continued to be a scorer off the bench. He averaged 11.3 points per game and 15.5 per 36 minutes. That is only 1.1 less per 36 than the prior season.

PHOENIX - NOVEMBER 05:  O.J. Mayo #32 of the Memphis Grizzlies shoots a free throw shot during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on November 5, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, b
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

This season, Mayo doesn't seem like trade rumors surrounding him have fazed him. He has career highs in field-goal percentage (46.1), three-point field-goal percentage (42.9) and free-throw percentage. His 56 percent true-shooting mark is extraordinary for a guard.

Mayo was the lone bright spot in the Grizzlies' 97-84 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, scoring 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting.

Last season, the rumors might have eaten at him. He posted career lows in field-goal percentage (40.7), three-point field-goal percentage (36.4) and free-throw percentage (75.7). His player efficiency rating was a skittish 12.6.

Mayo expressed conflicted feelings about his professional career, tweeting that he wasn't sure if he wanted to continue in the NBA.

Fortunately for Mayo, he has an owner in Michael Heisley and a general manager in Chris Wallace who seem to care about him. Wallace has been even-keeled in trade negotiations, declining to take offers that might not be sensible, such as plugging him into the inevitable Carmelo Anthony trade.

Wallace has shown a curiously emotional side before in trades. He was disappointed in having to let go of Xavier Henry in the deal that brought Marreese Speights to the Grizzlies. Wallace told The Commercial Appeal, "In a perfect world, we didn't want to deal Henry. But we're not in a perfect world."

Wallace was more reserved when addressing the situation with Mayo. He told The Commercial Appeal, "I wouldn't say it's a lock that he'll be with us after this year and I wouldn't say he isn't. There's so much ground to be covered between now and July."

Heisley has been emphatic about his fondness for Mayo. He told The Commercial Appeal in an interview in early December that he loves Mayo's talent. He said, "Quite frankly, O.J. is better than what we have seen. O.J. might have a really good year this year. ... If he comes back with a purpose, he'll be a big contributor."

Heisley is serious about how much he values Mayo. He won't take any offers that might seem low, according to The Commercial Appeal. However, he's letting Wallace listen to offers.

The Grizzlies likely won't trade Mayo this season. Heisley recognizes how good Mayo is. Also, further deals, especially dealing Mayo for a big man, would complicate the makeup of the Grizzlies roster. Stability would be best for both Mayo and the Grizzlies for the rest of the season.