Chicago Bulls face the one who got away

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.


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  • doug, you forget to mention that the griz refuse to deal with us. any potential deal is thus a non-starter.

  • In reply to jumpmanjay:

    They wanted Asik for Mayo, so they would have been willing to make a deal.

    Also, in the offseason when they sinew they were letting him I go, they needed a backup PG and Shooter which was why they signed Bayless and Traded for Ellington.

    I truly believe a Korver+Watson package could have yielded Mayo, who MEM was letting walk anyways

  • In reply to jumpmanjay:

    All the reports at the time were that the Grizzlies wanted Asik included in any deal. That's not a non-starter. That's a very reasonable offer when you're trying to trade for a starting shooting guard for your roster. Of course, the Bulls couldn't do that. Asik was just too important to the team and to the culture. So they let him walk in free agency instead. Chicago Bulls basketball forever!

  • I agree Doug I expect to see the Bulls come out aggressive after that loss. If not then we are in trouble.

  • In reply to Chad:

    Like the Bulls, the Mavericks on average team.

    This game will be 50-50, it'll be close and then will come down to score in the end.

    If the Bulls arent on in the fourth quarter, the Mavericks have Kaman, Mayo, and Collison to score

  • Like to see thibodeau with a more set rotation with the second unit coming in late in the 1st and playing the first 5 minutes of the second and playing late in the 3rd and the first 3 minutes of the 4th. Our bench stinks but the starters need some rest and this is one of the reasons they blew the game against the bucks.

    I haven't heard any talk about the 14th spot? Are they waiting for an injury? My guess is they are torn between getting another big like Kenyon Martin or another wing that can defend and shoot 3s like Quentin Richardson.

    I think in some ways what we are seeing now is good for the team to evaluate what they want to do in the future as they try to build a contender around Rose. Do they really want to pay Deng 12 million per 4 years because thats what his market will be and of course do they really want to stay chained to Boozer's cap hit for another 3 years? Right now our supercore is Rose-Noah-Deng which isn't bad but clearly outgunned against other supercore teams like the the thunder's Durant-Westbrook-Ibaka and of course the Miami Heat with James-Wade-Bosh. Our supercore can be said to be balanced with filling in the critical point guard-center positions but it lacks scoring firepower to surround it and this is where Garpax are miserably failing the Bulls. They need to recognize the problem and get that scoring support our supercore needs from the shooting guard to 6th man roles. The Clippers who also have a cheap owner are doing all the right things while we look completely lost, getting bad pieces that don't match our needs.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Bulls aren't Going to sign a 14th bench player...they would rather save the money.

    Regarding the second unit, if Thibs is going to play Deng with the second unit, he has to pull Deng out early in the first quarter (around 4-5min mark) and bring in Butler. And THEN bring Deng back in at the start of the 2nd QT with the 2nd unit. This way, Deng isn't ran into the ground.

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    Our 'Big 3' for the 2014 season, should be:
    D Rose
    OJ Mayo
    K Love

    But obviously 2014 is a long way a way

  • In reply to Daniel Sodera:

    After this season, Mayo is going to opt out and sign a long contract this year, so he's off the board.

    MINN has Love under contract until 2015, so he's off the board.

    2014 is a failed plan. They will have enough cap space to fail to sign an of the top FAs, and will come crawling back to Deng and overpaying him...again

  • Imagine Thibodeau if the Bulls lose 10 in a row. How does one look after his head explodes?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    He would just have shown the rest of the world that he is not a top-5 coach as many delusional homer fans hoped.

    He is no better than Collins or Skiles. If Collins had Rose on PHI or Skiles had Rose in MIL, they would e playing in the ECF too.

    In fact, they'd probably be in the finals and winning it because their front office isn't the Bulls' front office.

  • Mayo has had a couple games where he's played so-so to not very good. If Rip is going to guard him, I expect this to be a bounce back game. It's that game we never had last year where MarShon Brooks was going to drop 30 but he got hurt instead of playing. Speaking of which, Brooks is barely hanging on to a rotation spot in Brooklyn with Joe Johnson around, and the kid, like many of us said, still has great potential. I know the Bulls aren't interesting. They could have had him and Mirotic with a quick deal if they'd really cared at the 2011 draft.

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