I view O.J. Mayo as one of the most overhyped prospects in the NBA. He was viewed as future NBA superstar in high school. He played well in his single season in college, and was drafted with the third overall pick in 2008. Due to a huge amount of minutes and possessions, he posted strong raw numbers his first two seasons in the NBA.
The a funny thing happened. Mayo lost his starting gig to the pedestrian Tony Allen, the Grizzlies got a crapload better, and while playing a more limited role, Mayo's efficiency numbers plummeted. While shooting around 15 times per game for a lousy team, he shot around 44.5% and and 38.4% from the three point line.
While shooting around 10.8 for a good team for two seasons, Mayo's percentages dropped to 40.8% and 36.4% from the field. What's odd about the decline is that the quality of his shots should have been expected to rise. Memphis had multiple quality low post scorers and multiple offensive threats on the wing.
When Mayo WAS the offense, more likely to get double teamed, and shoot more difficult shots, he actually thrived. As a role player with more open looks he struggled.
The O.J. Mayo challenge
If you think O.J. Mayo has star potential, I dare you to take the O.J. Mayo challenge. Find a player whom has played over 10,000 career minutes without posting a PER over 15 who went on to make an all-star game later in his career. O.J. has played 10398 career minutes between playoffs and the regular season and has a career high PER of 14.7.
Granted, PER isn't the be all end all of stats by any stretch, however, it's a stat that usually does a fairly good job at recognizing quality offensive players and fails to pick up the contributions of low volume offensive players or high quality defenders. Mayo's scoring numbers actually get it done, but he falls short virtually everywhere else.
In terms of assists, turnovers, and rebounds, he shares a tremendous amount of similarities with the Chicago version of Ben Gordon. His stats those categories are nearly identical, except a little less than a half rebound per 36 minute advantage. However, Gordon was shooting better from the field, much better from the free throw line, and scoring much more efficiently overall.
Now Ben Gordon is considered vastly overpaid on his present deal making where he averages around 11 million per season, but we're not looking at paying Mayo 11 million per season. We're talking about paying him a shade over five million on average most likely.
In short, the Bulls should go for it
I've been critical of people dying over Mayo, because I doubt he's the panacea that may fans make him out to be, that said, I agree with fans who think he adds much of what the Bulls need. Chicago needs a player who can create a ton of shots in the offense. Particularly with Rose out for half to three fourths of a season. They need a secondary ball handler and shot creator when Rose is back.
They need someone who can create and score in volume on the second unit. They'll like the fact that Mayo's an athletic defender who will likely thrive on that size of the ball with proper coaching. His weaknesses of needing the ball too much, not rebounding or passing particularly well may not surface a whole bunch on a Bulls team that basically needs a selfish scorer.
Include Memphis in the Atlanta trade
The Bulls best shot to get O.J. Mayo is to include Memphis in the Atlanta trade. The Bulls could push Korver to Atlanta, claim O.J. Mayo, and send a second rounder to Memphis to close the deal. Minnesota can likely still be involved to whatever extent they are now with perhaps their pick/player going to Memphis.
Rumor has it, that Memphis was interested in Wayne Ellington, a player that was supposedly involved in the Bulls deal with Atlanta. If that's the case, a four team trade makes some sense.
Minnesota: In: nothing Out: Ellington
Atlanta: In: Korver Out: Nothing
Memphis: In: Ellington Out: Mayo
Bulls: In: Mayo Out: Korver
This trade works under the cap and because it's a simultaneous trade, the Bulls could offer Mayo 6.35 million in starting salary which pushes the total Mayo offer up to 4/27.17 million rather than 4/21.35 million that they can offer using the trade exception in a separate transaction.
Mayo will (obviously) be looking to maximize his cash as his NBA earnings haven't been at the generational wealth level yet. Every player coming off their rookie deal chases the money, and the Bulls will potentially have to compete with a Phoenix team that has plenty of room to make a much larger offer under their salary cap.
This rumor also makes some sense in that the Korver to Atlanta trade has been delayed for several teams as they try to "finalize" it. The finalization process could be the Bulls discussing with Mayo the idea that they can offer the above, but they need to do it right now, otherwise they'll have less later.
However, not to throw too much cold water on you, but it also strikes me as unlikely that a trade sitting out there this long has a piece as big as O.J. Mayo involved without anyone reporting the involvement.
If not Mayo, then Lee/Rush
The Suns look like the only team out in the shooting guard market looking to spend over the MLE right now. If the Bulls fail to get O.J. Mayo than Brandon Rush and Courtney Lee are likely available on MLE like contracts. Lee was hoping to land a bigger deal, but it hasn't happened for him yet. The Celtics are pursing him at the MLE, but they need Dallas to do a S&T with Jason Terry for that to happen, and Dallas balked on not using their cap space.
As such, the Bulls are probably open to pursue Lee with their trade exception if the time things properly so that Houston has enough cap room to make things work. Brandon Rush is a restricted free agent whom Golden State promised to match reasonable offers on. Would they participate in a S&T? Who knows. Either way, if the Bulls are interested, it looks like if they miss out on Mayo that they'll have a couple solid back up plan options if they choose to pursue them.
Do the Bulls need to dump Rip?
One potential negative in adding any of the three above mentioned players is that the Bulls salary structure appears very tight. We don't yet know if they'll match on Omer Asik, but the latest rumors that the Bulls are looking to move Hamilton imply that they might only show strong interest in a new SG if they can dump Hamilton's salary.
My guess is that they won't be able to find a taker for Hamilton. It might make some sense for Memphis to take Hamilton on for a single season as they have little depth at SG with Mayo heading elsewhere. Hamilton would presumably be open to playing for a quality team like Memphis, and if he's healthy, they could use much of what he brings to the table.
Another possibility in an O.J. Trade is the Bulls moving Hamilton for Mayo in a S&T while sending three million in cash to offset a good chunk of Hamilton's salary. The Grizzlies would then cumulatively owe Hamilton just three million (2 this year, and 1 next year for his buyout), and Rip's not a bad risk at just three million dollars.
A similar transaction probably makes less sense for the Warriors and no sense for Houston whom wants the cap room instead. So if the Bulls need to ditch Rip to make this all happen, then it's probably Memphis or bust.
Cold water time
In the end, I'm betting the Bulls don't land any of the three and enter the season by adding a veteran minimum guard to the roster instead making their initial guard rotation: Hinrich, Teague, Hamilton, vet min guy until Derrick Rose returns. That rotation is still pretty solid at guard once Rose is back, but it'll be fairly weak until that point.