There's been no shortage of words for my belief that the Bulls should have pursued O.J. Mayo. While at times he looked like the second coming of Larry Hughes [the bad one], he possesses the athleticism, scoring instincts and all around game the Bulls desperately need long term at the shooting guard position.
The Bulls get a dose of that tonight when the Dirk Nowitzki-less Mavericks invade the United Center tonight. The pedestrian Mavericks team is led by none other than O.J. Mayo, the frustrating two guard with all the potential that never quite panned out on a Memphis team that played better when he was off the floor than on it.
Could the Bulls have really had Mayo?
I still have my doubts that O.J. Mayo is worth the 10+ million a year I thought he would make in the NBA this summer, but what I never had any doubts about was whether he was worth a one year deal the size that Kirk Hinrich had or a three year deal at just over the MLE. Some of these issues are timing, but in an ideal Bulls off-season, they trade Kyle Korver to Atlanta and take O.J. Mayo from Memphis in a sign and trade back.
Of course Mayo would have had to agree to a 3/19 deal vs the 2/8 with the second year being a player option that he did. Assuming he feels he'll get 10 million a year next season, he could ultimately have upside of 3/24 over the first three years instead of 3/19, of course his downside is 2/8 vs 3/19, so it would have been a pretty solid move for him to take the 3/19.
The Bulls could have sent John Lucas to Memphis as well in a sign and trade for the minimum with cash to cover his salary with an agreement in place that the Grizzlies waive him [though then Lucas would have the prospect of some other team waiver claiming his deal, so those details would need to work out] in order to raise the offer to Mayo up to 3/23 which would effectively give him as much upside as what he's likely to achieve on his short one year deal while guaranteeing him more money.
In short, it could have worked out, and the Bulls could have kept Mayo long term if they signed him using the S&T. If they signed him to the one year + player option deal Dallas did the upside is much smaller. Still better than what we did, but we wouldn't be able to retain him long term.
The Bulls would have had to have kept C.J. Watson to start free agency rather than having waived him, but after watching Kirk Hinrich so far, that sure seems like it would have been a good idea anyway [which I also thought in the summer before and after free agency started].
Of course, this fantasy Bulls team would have three to four million in higher payroll, so we have all the answers right there on why this never happened.
Anyway, that's the last "we should have gotten O.J. Mayo" rant for awhile.
What do we expect out of the Bulls?
Luol Deng said it best in the post-game interview yesterday when asked if a loss like this would linger. "We'll see by how we play the next three games". The Mavericks look fairly similar to the Bulls to me. They're missing their superstar and have a bunch of complementary pieces around them trying to hold it together with middling success.
They don't have a ton of athleticism, they have a bunch of veterans, but overall, they have more shot creators while the Bulls bring more defense. That said, the Mavs present plenty of matchup challenges for Chicago. Chris Kaman is the big physical, moderately skilled offensive center that sometimes gives Noah fits because he will pull Noah away from his strengths (help defense) and force him into his weaknesses (low post man defense).
The decrepit Elton Brand lacks the athleticism to do much to anyone, but he's skilled and savvy enough to score plenty if Boozer's lazy on defense, and that's as constant as a broken clock.
However, I think the game is really won or lost by Chicago based on how they defend the two perimeter threats in O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison. O.J. Mayo looks like he'll tear Rip Hamilton to shreds for every second Hamilton guards him, so this might be an opportunity for Jimmy Butler to steal some minutes while Collison may be too quick for Hinrich to adequately defend.
If the Bulls can hold their own with those perimeter guys and then find a way to generate some offense of their own then I like their chances. After an absolutely humiliating loss, I expect Chicago to come out and win this game. There are some teams that will fold in the face of negative pressure, but I don't believe this Bulls team is one of those teams even without Derrick Rose at the helm.
Tonight, I expect their best, and I expect a win even against a Mavs team that's likely a bit better than they are.