The second in ESPNDallas.com’s position-by-position series previewing the free agency market that opens July 1.
How much is O.J. Mayo worth to the Mavericks?
Probably not enough to get into a bidding war with the Minnesota Timberwolves and other teams who will pursue Mayo during the free-agency period.
Mayo was the Mavs’ best player before the All-Star break last season, looking like a bargain after signing a one-year, $4 million deal with a player option for next season that he declined to exercise. His 2012-13 numbers (15.3 points, 4.4 assists, 3.5 rebounds, .449 FG, .407 3s) look pretty good as a whole. But Mayo faded badly in the final quarter of the season, and his defensive issues, inconsistent intensity and mental lapses were sources of great frustration to the Mavs’ coaching staff and front office.
Coach Rick Carlisle is on record saying he’d like Mayo back in Dallas, but it will come down to money. If the offers for Mayo exceed $6 million per year, expect the Mavs to shop elsewhere for a shooting guard. They might need to look at other, less expensive alternatives anyway, depending on how the rest of their free agency shopping goes.
Some other shooting guard options on the market this summer:
J.J. Redick: You can make a strong case that Redick would be a better fit than Mayo for the Mavs, who are putting a high premium on basketball IQ.
Redick isn’t exactly an explosive athlete. (Remember Mayo’s “It’s just J.J. Redick” comment after his critical chase-down block keyed the Mavs’ home win over Orlando?) But the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Redick is a good shooter (.390 on 3s in his career) with great savvy. He doesn’t commit many turnovers, has a firm understanding of floor spacing and ball movement and is a solid team defender because he’s rarely out of position.
The market for Redick could be in the $6 million-per-year range.
Kevin Martin: He’d have to take a huge pay cut from the $12.4 million he made last season – like half of that, at least -- to fit into the Mavs’ plans. Of course, the same is probably true for Martin to stay in Oklahoma City.
The 30-year-old Martin remains a knockdown 3-point shooter, having hit 42.6 percent from long distance last season. Martin’s ability to draw fouls has been his best attributes over the years, but his free throws attempted have plummeted in the last two years (8.4 per game to 4.5 to 3.2), a trend that started when he was the Rockets’ primary scoring threat.
The 6-foot-7, 185-pound Martin has never been anything more than an average defender and passer.
J.R. Smith: I have it on high authority that the Mavs aren’t interested in the reigning Sixth Man of the Year no matter the price due to his knucklehead tendencies. So we’ll skip the analysis of how his athleticism, ability to create and long-range shooting could give the Mavs an offensive boost.
Tyreke Evans: The 6-foot-5 combo guard is expected to return to Sacramento after signing an offer sheet, allowing him to test the market as an unrestricted free agent next summer. We might re-visit this name as a potential midseason trade target.
Tony Allen: The NBA’s most dominant defensive shooting guard is such a part of the Grizzlies’ fabric that it’s extremely difficult to imagine Memphis management letting him get away. He’s very limited offensively, but his tenaciousness and toughness would certainly be appreciated by Rick Carlisle if for some unforeseen reason he doesn’t stay in Memphis.
Nick Young: The 6-foot-7 Young is a relatively intriguing talent at 28 years old, but he’s pretty much just be a shooter without a conscience so far in his career. Could Carlisle get more out of him? Maybe we’ll find out if he’s cheap enough ($3 million per?) to be an option for the Mavs.
Marco Belinelli: The 27-year-old Italian is a pretty good perimeter shooter (.387 career 3s) and ballhandler who made $1.957 million for the Bulls last season. He’s not a bad buy at that price, but he’ll likely return to the Bulls if he can’t get more money elsewhere.
Wesley Johnson: The 25-year-old Corsicana native was a major bust as the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft. (Picking him over guys like DeMarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe and Paul George is a pretty good way for a GM to get fired.) Could he be a Brandan Wright-type of minimum-salary reclamation project for the Mavs? It’d be worth a shot for a 6-foot-7, 215-pound athlete who can at least be a solid defender off the bench.
Gary Neal: If you’re looking for a bargain, it’s probably best not to go with a guy who had big games on the Finals stage. The Mavs could use Neal’s perimeter shooting, but he’ll either be overpaid or return to the Spurs.