O.J. Mayo Slips into Unrestricted Free Agency

Rob MahoneyNBA Lead WriterJune 29, 2012

MEMPHIS, TN - APRIL 21:  O.J. Mayo #32 of the  Memphis Grizzlies dribbles the ball against the Portland Trail Blazers during the NBA game at FedExForum on April 21, 2012 in Memphis, Tennessee. 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 Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

O.J. Mayo's time in Memphis has long appeared short, and yet it still came as a slight surprise to see that the Grizzlies opted not to extend Mayo a qualifying offer for next season, thus letting him shift from restricted free agency to the far more expansive unrestricted free agency.

As Royce Young mentioned at CBS Sports' Eye on Basketball, it's hard to blame the Grizz for not meeting the nearly $7.4 million qualifying offer for a nonessential reserve, particularly considering the luxury tax implications on top of Memphis' decision to tender offers to Darrell Arthur and Marreese Speights. Mayo is a nice player to have around—particularly for what he can offer a team defensively—but his lack of offensive growth ultimately made him expendable, and certainly made him so when the price inflated to over $7 million.

Considering how many trade rumors Mayo has been involved in over the last few seasons, it should be interesting to see how many teams step up to make him more formal offers. He's likely to find a deal somewhere near the mid-level exception, though depending on how much Mayo values the opportunity to join a contending team as opposed to one that could slot him for significant minutes, he could actually end up making a bit less than the full MLE.

Or maybe free agency could just go full guano when the Brooklyn Nets give Mayo Travis Outlaw money. These things happen, and though Mayo would certainly be a more deserving—and promising—prospect than many who have been overpaid before him. Something more comfortably within the confines of the MLE would suit Mayo nicely, without overextending the team that ends up signing him.