Celtics fans got a good look last night at O.J. Mayo’s talents (24 points, 10-19 FG, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and 9 TOs). That box score is something that we could have seen in a Celtics jersey.
It’s no secret that Mayo’s name has been linked to the Celtics over the past couple of seasons, mostly in trade talks and failed deals. This past April, Celtics analyst Donny Marshall claimed that it was Mayo‘s refusal to play for Boston that led to the collapse of a deal with the Grizzlies that would have shipped out Ray Allen and a draft pick.
“Mayo basically said, ‘I don’t care about banners,'” announced Marshall. Apparently he never said such a thing.
“It would’ve been an honor to play with KG [Kevin Garnett], [Paul] Pierce and [Rajon] Rondo,” said Mayo. “It would’ve been great to play with those guys and with [Celtics coach] Doc [Rivers].”
“I was pretty much set to come here and something fell through at the very last second,” said Mayo. “A couple of the guys wanted to keep Ray, and management wanted to make the trade.”
Obviously hindsight is 20/20. It’s clear to say now, with Allen leaving town to join the Miami Heat, that the deal should’ve been done, but not exactly at the time. Mayo was coming off the bench for the Memphis Grizzlies, averaging 12.9 points per game and not exactly having the best shooting season of his career. Boston was still in the title hunt and maybe they thought they shouldn’t risk breaking up the core with the possibility of a championship in sight.
With that said, the deal should’ve been done. At the time, would you rather have kept a 36 year-old shooter with ankle issues or have a 24 year-old shooting guard who has the capabilities of scoring, as shown by his first two seasons in the league when he averaged 18 points a game over that span? Give me the younger guy. Honing his offensive skills under the guidance of Pierce, working on defensive strategy with Garnett and catching no-look passes from Rondo would have been a treat.
Let’s not even get into the fact that Dallas got Mayo for $4 million over the off-season, while the Celtics are on the hook for Jason Terry and Courtney Lee for a combined $10 million. Getting a guy who can create for himself would ease the burden on Rondo in the offensive and gives him a running mate for the possible future.
Some people will say that he’s a great talent but doesn’t work hard enough. Maybe that has been the case in the past, but not this year. Just see what Terry had to say about Mayo.
“[Mayo's] work ethic has definitely changed,” Terry said. “If you hear coming out of their locker room what he’s done differently, he’s brought better work habits. He’s been there at night, and he’s coming early before the games, so I think that’s carrying over for him. He’s always been a great talent, but there’s been questions about his work ethic. Obviously, this year he’s put the work in, and it’s starting to show.”
Did the Celtics make the right move when they decided to hold the Mayo?