Tag: OJ Mayo


The tangled web of Chris Paul, David Stern, and the blockbuster trade that wasn’t


Last Friday, David Stern — acting as some amalgam of both owner of the New Orleans Hornets and commissioner of the NBA — put the kibosh on a trade that would’ve sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, brought Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, and Lamar Odom to the Hornets, and shipped Pau Gasol to the Rockets. Those players would have significantly altered the futures of all three franchises involved in the deal, but thanks to Stern’s controversial decision, things have developed along a different timeline.

The ripple effects of Stern’s veto have been incredibly far-reaching, and upset the delicate balance of an already furious free agency period. Behold: an attempt to capture the 10-team, 28-player insanity that has resulted from Stern’s decision to block the Chris Paul blockbuster:


Chart made by Rob Mahoney.

See a full-size version of the image here.

Last season had O.J. Mayo questioning if he still wanted to play

O. J. Mayo, Kevin Durant
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The first half of last season, O.J. Mayo became marginalized in Memphis. His role with the team was fading, he was coming off the bench and he was shopped around then almost traded to the Pacers.

That all changed after Rudy Gay suffered a shoulder injury, the team had to lean on Mayo again and he responded. In the playoffs Mayo played a key part of Memphis’ run.

Looking back, he said the first part of last season had him questioning his commitment to basketball. Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated has the quote in a tweet.

OJ Mayo on last season: “It was the most [difficult] thing ever. At one point I was like, ‘man do I still want to play?’”


It’s hard to know exactly how seriously to take this quote. But if getting benched because you’re not playing well leads you to question if you still want to play, if he were on my team that would concern me. I want guys who see that loss of time as a challenge, not a threat. But Mayo is feeling confident now, and that will be good for the Grizzlies next season.

Memphis’ Sam Young had a bad day


The Memphis Grizzlies did not have a great Sunday, with their fun run of a season coming to an end.

But no Griz player had a worse Friday than Sam Young.

First, for Game 6 Young lost his starting job to O.J. Mayo. Coach Lionel Hollins had seen the Thunder adjust and slow Zach Randolph, and he needed to find more scoring, so in went Mayo. (It worked, the spacing Mayo helped create was key to the Grizzlies Game 6 win.)

Then there was this, according to WMC television in Memphis (via Ball Don’t Lie):

According to a Memphis Police report, Young’s Chevy Camaro was stolen while he visited a walk-up ATM at South Main and Peabody Place. Witnesses saw a man with dreads drive away.

Police say the car thief might not have “scored” if Young had not left his car running.

Fortunately for Young, GM vehicles like his come equipped with the On-Star communications and security system. Police used it to track Young’s Camaro to the 1400 block of Breedlove in North Memphis. It was found unoccupied before being returned to the basketball star.

Lost his starting job and had his car stolen on the same day — Friday the 13th.

Young is owed some luck soon. Karma will balance out.

NBA Playoffs: Does Durant dominate Game 7 for Thunder?

Oklahoma City Thunder v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Six
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Kevin Durant has played on big stages before. Just this past summer he led Team USA to gold in the World Championships for example.

But his first ever NBA Game 7 is maybe his biggest stage yet, and if the Thunder are going to advance they need more out of him.

With Tony Allen and Shane Battier hounding him, Durant is shooting 43.2 percent, both down from his 27.7 points per game on 46.2 percent during the season. He shot 35 percent from thee in the regular season, 30.2 percent this series. He was 3-of-13 in Game 6. In the regular season he dished out nearly 3 assists per game, in this series he has eight total through six games.

Every time he has shot this series, it has seemed a hand was in his face. Russell Westbrook has taken heat for his shooting too much and not passing enough (with some good reason at times), but the fact is Durant has not been open like he has been in the past. The Thunder need to get Durant better looks, create some room for him to catch-and-shoot or at least put the ball on the floor and get into the lane.

Look for the Thunder to find matchup ways to get Durant the ball where he wants it. That could involve more Nick Collison rather than Kendrick Perkins (Collison draws Marc Gasol out of the paint because you have to respect Collison’s midrange shot). Maybe we see some Durant as the four. Maybe a lot of things, but the Thunder need to get him going.

Memphis is going to stick with what worked in Game 6 — O.J. Mayo will start, providing some floor spacing to give Zach Randolph more room. Serge Ibaka (and at times Perkins) have to take that space away. They did from games two through five and Randolph was held in check. He dominated Game 6, especially late. The Thunder must double, deny and generally make sure someone else beats them.

That someone may be Mike Conley, who will be key for the Grizzlies as he runs the point.

Game 7s can make young players nervous, the pressure can lead to cautious and ugly basketball. The team that breaks through that hesitation first will have a huge advantage. If that is Westbrook attack and shooting too much, so be it. Somebody needs to grab hold of this game and just take it over. Both teams have a few guys who can do that, but the Thunder are at home and have the better wing athletes. This should be their time. If they are ready for it.

NBA Playoffs: Thunder try to avoid another breakdown

Oklahoma City Thunder v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Three
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Oklahoma City was in control. They had Game 3. Russell Westbrook was dishing (he had 12 assists) and the Thunder were rolling. They were controlling the Grizzlies in the paint enough to get the win.

But when Westbrook starts to do his Derrick Rose impression, the Thunder’s offensive balance falls apart. Memphis upped its defensive pressure and he seemed to try and dribble the clock out to eat up game time, but the Thunder’s shots ended up being contested jumpers. When Kevin Durant did get the ball he was out by the arc with the time running down. Westbrook and the entire Thunder team stopped attacking.

Meanwhile the Grizzlies got the ball inside and made shots. It’s what they do. They executed better than they had for the first three quarters. They played smart and hit shots.

And they sent it to overtime, where the Grizzlies won.

In this game, the Grizzlies know they need to play 48 minutes like they did for the final 10 minutes, but they will be able to approach that with more confidence. They need to again get some offensive balance from O.J. Mayo (he made OKC pay for its attention on Zach Randolph), and Randolph and Marc Gasol need to again have good games. Mayo had a good defensive stint against Westbrook in the fourth, that would be a big help if he can duplicate it.

Memphis cannot have just one good quarter, it needs a good game.

And all of that might not matter if the Thunder are playing up to their potential. This is a team learning how to be champions, and that comes with some hard lessons. Like not going away from your offense at the end of games, keeping your foot on the gas. The Grizzlies cannot stop Durant if he gets the ball in good position (although Tony Allen has done a solid job), they cannot stop Westbrook when he is attacking but also is willing to set up teammates. The Thunder can stop themselves.

If the Thunder can limit turnovers and attack the basket, they may be able to even this series. But it will not be easy. You become a champion by having to get better with every test. If that’s where the Thunder see themselves, there are lessons they need to learn from this series. And they need to start applying them now.