It is well known news that the Indiana Pacers attempted to rush a deal through the wire with the Memphis Grizzles just minutes before the league's trading deadline this past season.
O.J. Mayo was nearly a Pacer and while the proposed deal did fall apart in the end for unknown reasons, I believe that the Indiana Pacers should and just may make another serious run at O.J. Mayo now that he is an unrestricted free agent.
The Pacers need more depth at the 2-guard spot, and Mayo's ability to create his own shot is a talent that the Pacers surely can utilize and work into a lineup already with a dense core in sharpshooter Danny Granger, rejuvenated big man David West and a newly re-signed big man who is just about to crack into his prime years in Roy Hibbert.
Indiana now needs a player who has the ability to consistently create his own shot while playing against good defense, and they need someone who can do all this night in and night out from a bench role.
While Mayo's numbers significantly dropped after he was relegated to a bench role in Memphis for the better part of the last two seasons, he still has the talent as a pure shooting specialist to put together an all-star caliber season—-and he could be exactly the guy the Pacers are searching for.
The team's guard pickup of last season in George Hill was a good one regardless of the costly mistakes down the stretch that ultimately assisted in Indiana's losing to the eventual champion Miami Heat.
Yet the Pacers have still entrusted Hill with the responsibility of a role in the backcourt for years to come, and make no mistake about it, the former IUPUI star will deliver.
The Pacers reportedly have agreed to terms with Hill through the next five years, thus taking him through his prime with the team and paying him accordingly for his services.
An interesting piece over at RealGm.com grades the deal for us, giving it an A- overall rating for the Pacers, as they locked up a lanky point guard (6'9" wingspan) who has meshed very well with starter Darren Collision, for many years.
This past season Hill recorded a career-best 18.8 percent assist percentage, and with O.J. being assisted on 51.3 percent of his baskets last year, it seems as though this is combination that could blossom into a match made in heaven.
Being that Mayo excels at finding his own shot, he could find a comfortable role as the leader of the bench unit, similar to what guard Lou Williams was able to accomplish as the captain of the Philadelphia 76ers second unit.
But with current Pacers like Paul George seemingly stuck in deer-in-the-headlights mode adjusting to playoff basketball as a rookie (and crumbling under the pressure) bringing in a guy like Mayo would boost the competition and force guys like George to adjust if they want to continue receiving starter minutes.
O.J. would fit in nicely to a Pacers squad that has at least five or six guys who could go off on a rampage on any single night and take over the game.
Whether or not he would be willing to accept a role off the bench remains to be seen, however, I would peg him as a significant upgrade over guys like Hill and George, who fizzled in the playoffs.
The way I see it, Mayo is certainly a risk, probably a medium-level one as he is demanding (according to the Boston Herald) a contract substantially greater than the mid-level exception, but there could be great reward should Mayo find his form.
He comes with some well-documented issues however, both on and off the court, including a feud with teammate Tony Allen that culminated in a physical conflict between the two.
The final straw for Mayo with Lionel Hollins and the Grizzles may have come with the violation of the NBA's drug policy with a positive test for the performance enhancing steroid, dehydroepiandrosterone.
Mayo claims to have bought an energy drink, which unbeknownst to him, contained the steroid and led to a 10-game suspension this past January.
The Grizzles already seem to have moved on and found a replacement for Mayo in the talented young guard Jerryd Bayless who wasn't even supposed to be on the market this summer. The Raptors renounced his rights in order to make sure they had to cap space to peruse their target in Houston guard Kyle Lowry.
A lack of maturity and perhaps a lapse in judgement for the 24-year-old Mayo (a guy who played just a single year of college ball) may have been the real cause of these off the court issues, but the rocky relationship with head coach Lionel Hollins was certainly a combination of both on and off the court problems.
There is a currently good vibe rushing through Conseco Fieldhouse after the positives of the team's youthful core were highlighted by a successful 2011-12 campaign and bringing in a risk like Mayo could upset the balance should he not fit in.
But Pacers head coach Frank Vogel has an overwhelmingly positive attitude to him, which differs from the old-school approach of Hollins that Mayo so frequently bumped heads with.
He has the talent to succeed and was derailed from his quest in what looked to be a vault to super-stardom with the Grizzles, but he is still young enough to start over fresh somewhere new and Indiana is in need of a guy like Mayo who they can depend on for reliable bench scoring.
All the monetary talks aside, the fact of the matter is that O.J. Mayo needs desperately to start over with some fresh scenery, a new coaching system and of course new teammates who could help right him on the course back to becoming a big-name player.
This could all become a reality should he agree to a deal to move up to Indiana to play in Indianapolis.
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