O.J. Mayo had been used as trade fodder by rumormongers for 15 months between January 2011 and April 2012.
The Memphis Grizzlies' guard periodically surfaced in trade talks. This inspired some fans to believe that he was sure to be traded. On Wednesday, Mayo showed the world why Michael Heisley and the Grizzlies wouldn't have allowed it.
Mayo shone in Game 2 after a disappointing showing in Game 1—one that he said caused him to lose sleep between games. Mayo scored 20 points on Wednesday, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter. He also made a nice showing on defense, picking up two steals and a block.
Mayo made key shots to keep the Grizzlies in control in the fourth quarter. With 9:39 left, Mayo hit a three-point shot coming out of a Clippers timeout, and then knocked down a jumper on the next possession to stretch the lead from four to nine.
With 7:35 left, Mayo answered a four-point play by Chris Paul by hitting another three-point shot to put the lead back to nine.
The Clippers never reduced the defecit again after that shot, as the Grizzlies pushed their lead to 13 at one point late in the game. Mayo and company definitely showed the Clippers they weren't welcome to do what they did in Game 1 in the FedEx Forum.
Mayo's name appeared repeatedly this season on the trade wire. He was rumored to go to the Indiana Pacers, but that deal was blown dead, per SI.com, after Tony Allen tweeted a false trade report. In January, his name was mentioned in a rumor from The Commercial Appeal connected with the New Jersey Nets, but that trade idea didn't have legs.
How much of a difference will O.J. Mayo make for the Grizzlies in the playoffs?
Mayo remains with the Grizzlies until he becomes a restricted free-agent after the season. Those who stood by the idea that he would certainly be traded have nothing left to say to that effect this season.
Besides, Mayo meant too much to the Grizzlies to trade him. He's the only real scoring threat off the bench for them, averaging 12.6 points per game. Also, he's the only effective ball handler on the bench who can supplant Mike Conley when he needs to rest.
Gilbert Arenas was signed in March to help in that regard, but he hasn't figured highly in the rotation. He only played 12.4 minutes per game in the regular season. He played just 10 minutes in Game 1 and didn't play in Game 2.
Mayo is also one of only three Grizzlies players, along with Arenas and Conley, who have been real three-point threats this season.
To think that the Grizzlies could have simply traded Mayo for another sixth man disregards what the Grizzlies are about—team chemistry. The players are tight. They practiced together during the lockout, and several of them participated in Impact Basketball in Las Vegas during the lockout.
They're committed to each other, and little drama spills out of the Grizzlies' locker room.
If they had traded for another sixth man, then that player might not have melded well with the team.
Mayo has served the Grizzlies well, and he'll continue to be a major player for them during the playoffs. Look for him to take big shots when the Grizzlies need him to. He'll also be very willing to make plays on defense.
Business will take care of itself during the offseason, but as long as he's under contract with the Grizzlies, he'll shine as a valued member of the team.