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posted: 7/15/2012 7:30 PM

Dealing for Mayo would be tricky for Bulls

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  • Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo (32) heads to the basket as Denver Nuggets forward Al Harrington (7) defends in the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won in overtime 100-97.

      Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo (32) heads to the basket as Denver Nuggets forward Al Harrington (7) defends in the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won in overtime 100-97.

 
 

The new hot topic among Bulls fans is O.J. Mayo.

The Memphis Grizzlies shooting guard is an unrestricted free agent, and the Bulls have interest. The big question is what they have to offer.

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The main competition appears to be Phoenix, which has about $8 million-$9 million of salary-cap room after New Orleans matched the Suns' offer sheet to Eric Gordon.

Complete details of the Kirk Hinrich acquisition and Kyle Korver trade to Atlanta have yet to be revealed, but those transactions should help the Bulls in the Mayo chase.

If the Bulls get a second-round draft pick out of the Korver trade, they'll have a traded-player exception worth $5 million.

To use that on Mayo, they'd have to talk the Grizzlies into doing a sign-and-trade and send some sort of draft pick and/or cash in return.

Sign and trades are limited to four years in the new CBA. So if that happens, Memphis could sign Mayo to a four-year deal worth a total of $21.35 million and send him to the Bulls.

Another possibility is using the full midlevel exception of $5 million. The most the Bulls could get out of that is the same four-year offer to Mayo worth $21.35 million.

To use that option, the Bulls would have to decline to match Omer Asik's offer sheet from Houston. Otherwise, they'd be limited to the taxpayer midlevel of $3 million.

They'd also have to find another way to land Hinrich, either through a sign-and-trade with Atlanta or possibly even the biannual exception worth $1.9 million, which they could use if Asik walks.

There's also a chance the Bulls could negotiate an Asik trade before he signs the offer sheet, maybe something involving the Rockets and Grizzlies. That would be a challenge to work out, but it could be done.

Rumors were building Sunday that the New York Knicks will not match Houston's offer to guard Jeremy Lin, which is the same deal the Rockets plan to give Asik, worth $5, $5.2 and $14.9 million over three years.

Is Mayo worth the effort? He hasn't lived up to the hype of being drafted No. 3 in the 2008 draft, especially considering that Memphis traded Kevin Love to get him.

But during his first two years with the Grizzlies, when Mayo started every game, he averaged 18.5 and 17.5 points.

After that, Memphis started using Tony Allen at shooting guard and brought Mayo off the bench. The past two years, Mayo averaged 11.3 and 12.6 points, which isn't bad considering he played fewer minutes.

The positive side to all that was defensive-minded Allen helped turn the Grizzlies into a playoff contender. Mayo was able to learn from Allen's example and gain some valuable postseason experience.

For his career, Mayo has shot .433 overall, .375 from 3-point range and .817 at the foul line, with 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. At 6-feet-4 with long arms, he has the potential to be a strong defender.

Now if Phoenix jumps into the mix with a four-year, $36 million offer, the Bulls probably don't have much chance. Mayo is stepping away from the rookie pay scale for the first time, and financial security is a concern for any NBA player in that spot.

In Chicago, Mayo would have the chance to set up shop next to Derrick Rose long term and be part of a championship contender -- in theory.

The Suns are moving on without Steve Nash and have added Goran Dragic and Michael Beasley so far this summer.

So the Bulls can paint a rosy picture for Mayo, but this deal all depends on execution.

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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