With the NBA world focused on the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets' dash to the Dwight Howard finish line, the Lakers have quietly expressed interest in bringing in free agent guard O.J. Mayo, according to Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears.
Unfortunately, after bringing in point guard Steve Nash via sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers only have their mini mid-level exception worth only $3 million per season.
Considering this is Mayo's first voyage into unrestricted free agency, it seems unlikely that he'd be willing to take that little money with the Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks all interested and able to offer more money to the former Memphis Grizzlies sixth man.
But what the Lakers cannot offer in salary, they can make up for in two factors—a chance to win an NBA championship and a return to Los Angeles, where he played college ball at USC for one season.
While Mayo only spent his freshman season as a Trojan, he seemed to bask in the L.A. spotlight and excelled on-court, scoring 20.7 points per game en route to leading USC to the NCAA tournament.
Coming to Los Angeles could also help reinvigorate Mayo's seemingly stalled career. After scoring 18.0 points per game while starting nearly every game in each of his first two seasons with the Grizzlies, Mayo got relegated to a sixth-man role for the past two years. As such, Mayo's scoring averaged dipped below 12 points per game, and he started 17 total games in his final years in Memphis.
Mayo may likely be relegated to a sixth-man role with the Lakers, but working with Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant could help instill the type of work ethic many have said the former Trojan lacks. Nash and Bryant are notorious workout fiends, and their presence could help Mayo reach the immense potential that made him the No. 3 pick.
For the Lakers, that's one overarching reason why they have interest in Mayo. But another is his glove-like fit for the Lakers' backcourt.
Mayo is the perfect type of scorer in the Leandro Barbosa mold to put with Nash on the wing.
The added bonus of having Mayo on the roster is that he's an adept enough ball handler that Lakers coach Mike Brown can even hand him the point guard reins and go with a tall backcourt of Mayo and Bryant.
And before you say anything about what this would do to the Lakers defensively, he can't be any worse than relying on the Derek Fisher turnstile for the better part of five seasons.
The only question comes with putting the theoretical Nash-Mayo-Bryant threesome on the court together.
The defensive shortcomings of the 38-year-old Nash are well-documented, but Mayo ranked among the NBA's worst defensive shooting guards this past season, allowing the opposition a PER of 19.6 against him.
And while Bryant is still an above-average defender at this point in his career, he's hardly ever tasked with defending a team's best player because of his offensive responsibilities.
Truth be told, Mayo coming to the Lakers could work. But it will only do so if Coach Brown uses his talents correctly and builds a consistent offensive rotation.
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