It is clear that the Bulls need an upgrade at the shooting guard position. Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and Keith Bogans have not been getting the job done. A commonly mentioned trade target is 23-year-old swingman O.J. Mayo of the Memphis Grizzlies. A high first-round draft pick in 2008, he has been playing reduced minutes this season, but would fit in perfectly with the Chicago Bulls.
Here are 10 reasons why the Bulls need to pull the trigger on this deal
O.J. Mayo can score, that much is clear. Ever since he rose to the national spotlight while in high school, he has been producing.
This year, however, he has not putting up the gaudy numbers he did as a younger player in the NBA. Don’t read too much into that because he has been averaging less minutes per game. If given his minutes, O.J. will fill up the stat sheet.
As the Bulls clearly need some fire power from the SG position and O.J. needs a change of scenery, this could be a match made in heaven. The nearly 17 points per game he averaged last season, when he played significant minutes, are exactly what the Bulls need.
This season, O.J. tested positive for a substance known as DHEA, a steroid, and was subsequently suspended for 10 games. Such a ruling obviously is embarrassing to a player, but more so to an organization.
Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley said they were completely behind him. However, it is hard to look at a player in the same light after such an occurrence. Add in the fact that the Grizzlies went 8-2 during his suspension, it should be clear to management that they could do without him.
Even though the Grizzlies are currently dealing with injuries that make O.J. Mayo more important to the team, the asking price for him will not be too high.
Remember, the Grizzlies spent their first-round draft pick on a SG the Bulls were rumored to be interested in, Xavier Henry. If a team invests such a high pick on a player, the incumbent is potentially on his way out. And even though Henry has not played well this season, he is only rookie and will continue to be given the chance to play, leaving Mayo with less minutes.
On the ESPN.com feature NBA Trade Machine, the Bulls could acquire Mayo for Keith Bogans and James Johnson—a perfect situation for the Bulls, not so good for the Grizzlies.
What about a straight-up trade with Ronnie Brewer for O.J.? Both trades would work out money-wise, and the Bulls would do either in a heart beat...the Grizzlies would not.
What about Bogans, JJ and the first-round draft pick, either the Bulls’ or the Charlotte pick? Again, this trade would work out salary-wise, and the Grizzlies would be more inclined to make the trade because of a future draft pick.
Derrick Rose is an incredible player and will become MVP, either this season or in the future, so it is easy to forget that he is only 22. O.J. Mayo is 23. Both players have many, many years ahead of them as NBA stars and will only get better, especially if both play under an extremely knowledgeable coach in Tom Thibodeau.
Trading for O.J. this season sets the Bulls up to be championship contenders for at least five years. Hypothetically, the Bulls’ starting line up in that period could be:
Center: Joakim Noah
Power Forward: Carlos Boozer
Small Forward: Luol Deng
Shooting Guard: O.J. Mayo
Point Guard: Derrick Rose
Although dependant on the Bulls extending both Rose's and Mayo's contracts, this is a championship-quality lineup that would only continue to improve.
As silly as it sounds, the Bulls need to protect their superstar. Night in and night out, Rose carries this team. He is young and has fresh legs. But he played all summer with Team USA and now has to almost single-handedly win the game each night.
Rose has an aggressive style of play that can shorten careers and suffers from terrible tendinitis in his knees. And, if he had landed at a slightly different angle after one of his collisions with Dwight Howard, his career could have been over.
O.J. Mayo would shoulder some of the scoring burden, keeping Rose healthy and away from big boys like Howard.
And speaking of Derrick Rose, he and O.J. are supposed to be friends—it is known that they work out together during the offseason. If they already play together in the summer, the transition period would be much shorter and no chemistry problems would arise.
As mentioned earlier, the Bulls could make this trade for Keith Bogans, JJ and a first-round draft pick. Although the Grizzlies might not take this deal, the team could simply throw in another draft pick. With the exception of the Charlotte pick, the Bulls look as if they will be a high playoff seed each year, and therefore their draft pick will be at the end of the first round each year. As a result, it would not be a huge loss to trade at least one pick away.
The bench, however, stays intact.
The Bulls lose Bogans, who they could obviously do without, and insert O.J. into the starting lineup with Korver and Brewer behind him. C.J. Watson will continue to backup Rose, and the low post is the same with Thomas, Gibson and Asik. The Bulls would then have a starting lineup that could contend with any team in the league, and a deep bench to match.
With Mayo in the lineup, the Bulls could contend with anyone. With a bona fide star in D-Rose, a top center in the league, a low-post scorer and a do-everything SF, Chicago could be in the finals this season if they had some fire power from the shooting guard position. Throw in likely Coach of the year Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls will have their best lineup since MJ and Phil Jackson were in the United Center.
Mayo is a quality shooter but does not need the ball consistently in his hands to score. A career 44 percent shooter from the field and almost 38 percent from downtown, he will be able to make the majority of the spot-up shots he gets.
Rose will still be taking the last shot at the end of the half and will be given the ball in the fourth quarter to take over the game, as he did in Chicago's victory over San Antonio.
The offense will still be based on the pick-and-roll between Rose and Boozer. No significant changes will be made if the Bulls acquire Mayo...leaving the ball rightly in Derrick Rose’s hand.
Tom Thibodeau consistently praises the defensive ability of Bogans and points to this as the reason he still starts. Bogans does not have the lockdown ability that he's continually credited with. But, he does not even have to be an outstanding perimeter defender—and neither does O.J. because Ronnie Brewer was signed to be that player.
Additionally, Kyle Korver plays consistently in the fourth quarter and is considered the worst defender on the team. If the Bulls do acquire Mayo, he would play those minutes and certainly would not be as bad as Korver.
Finally, everything circles back to Tom Thibodeau. He is an outstanding coach and has improved Derrick Rose’s defensive ability in a little more than half a season. O.J. is only a little older than Rose and although not as good of an athlete, he has the potential to become a terrific defender. If Thibs has the chance to work on Mayo’s defense, he could become a talented defender and the scorer the team needs.
As mentioned earlier in the slide titled “He Won’t Take the Ball From Derrick Rose,” O.J. is a quality shooter. He could make every open shot opportunity he gets. And on the Bulls he will get plenty of those opportunities.
Every team the Bulls play collapses the lane to protect against D-Rose’s driving abilities, leaving the drive and kick open. This has been apparent throughout the season, and has been open. If O.J. is the one catching and shooting the three instead of Bogans, look for the team’s scoring average, and winning percentage to rise.
Another tactic that teams have tried against the Bulls, especially the Bobcats, has been trapping Rose at half court. If that happens in the future, Rose could simply pass the ball off to O.J. who could then create, or simply shoot on the spot.
Finally, O.J. is mistakenly described as a “slasher." But in reality he can’t drive effectively. Throw in his short stature at 6’4" and poor free-throw shooting, it becomes clear O.J. Mayo is no Derrick Rose. Therefore, he is not a “slasher” but rather is a “shooter” which is perfect for the Bulls' need. And this would become all the more apparent if O.J. Mayo is paired alongside Derrick Rose.