When BenD first mentioned O.J. Mayo’s name on Indy Cornrow’s Trade Deadline Open Thread at 3:00 p.m., the time of the trade deadline, it began a hurricane of confirmations, collapses, and a whole lot of "wait, what’s happening, really?"s, it settled an hour later with the Pacers making no moves at the trade deadline, a frenzy ultimately whipped up by the instant nature of the world we live.
The proposed deal, which began surfacing around 3 o’clock, was Indiana sending Josh McRoberts and a lottery protected first round pick to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for O.J. Mayo. While those were the preliminary basics of the deal, more would eventually have to be involved given the discrepancies in salaries between the two players. The rumor began gaining steam with every Twitter update; fans trying to grasp the move, rationalize it, looking for the yes or no in confirmation before Indy Star beat writer Mike Wells confirmed it around 3:30; the Pacers had indeed traded for O.J. Mayo.
As websites were updated and TV personalities began talking about the acquisition, it was a short five minutes later before something hit a snag…the trade had fallen through. Wait…what? The next twenty-five minutes were a flurry of "did they?!" "didn’t they!?" and conflicting reports as to the validity of the deal. JMV dismissed it, NBA TV and ESPN confirmed it, Chad Ford confirmed it and then cautiously unconfirmed it. What was happening? How could a simple trade deadline deal be holding so much confusion? While fans were looking for a yes or no, coming out were reasons the trade fell through. It was the teams missing the deadlines. The Grizzlies pulled out of the deal at the last second.
Eventually, the dust began to settle: the Pacers had not acquired O.J. Mayo. But what ended up being the reason? Was Mayo even a good fit for the team?
The first reason for the failure of the deal came that the teams had missed the deadline, something that seemed a little fishy as rumors began surfacing on the right side of 3:00. The next step was that the Grizzlies got cold feet on the deal, which then turned into Memphis’s owner Michael Heisley laying the blame on the front office of the Pacers for missing the deadline. There was even some speculation about the timing of the deal having to do with whether or not the Grizzlies’s other deal; the one involving Hasheem Thabeet and Shane Battier was finished before this one could be completed.
In the end, the call to the league was logged at 3:01 p.m., an issue actually born from involvement with the New Orleans Hornets, who themselves backed out of the deal which would’ve sent Brandon Rush to Louisiana. What took place was a perplexing, largely confusing, but exhilarating mess where all sides were blamed, all sides fell short, and all sides failed to deliver. Larry Bird refused to point a finger; he was just disappointed he couldn’t make a deal.
As for the deal itself, would it have been a good move for the Pacers? Without knowledge on the final pieces (outside of rumors involving Bird trying to land Darrell Arthur and Zach Randolph in addition to Mayo), it’s hard to really say. On one hand, the Pacers needed a more dynamic two guard capable of scoring down the stretch if they hope to be a competitive team in the final season's stretch, which Mayo provides. In addition, Mayo’s standing, especially if he were to perform well in Indianapolis, could’ve seen a solid trade return should the team feel comfortable with Paul George as a starter.
The X-Factor of how much time George will need to settle into being a starter in the NBA is the hardest measure when making a deal like this, but the team did need an upgrade until then. You can argue the depth of the wing set for Indiana, but none are quite the dynamic talent Mayo is. Essentially, Mayo would’ve been a swap for Rush, cutting back on the glut enough to make it a solid move.
Negatively, Mayo brings a bit of a history of troublemaking, one most recently accentuated by getting into fisticuffs with his teammates over gambling debts. In addition, he’s small for a two guard, really more of a combo, a pairing that could’ve created a bad sizing matchup for times he would share the court with Darren Collison. Furthermore, the trade as constituted would diminish the Indiana Pacers frontline, currently anchored by McRoberts, but also Roy Hibbert, Jeff Foster, and Tyler Hansbrough. Beyond that, bodies are scarce or largely not reliable. Whatever New Orleans’s role in the trade was, it could’ve sent a front court player (for example, 7’ forward Jason Smith) to the Pacers.
Ultimately, what failed to go through failed to go through, and now the Pacers have to move forward with the same roster they’ve had all season. Speculation on a possible T.J. Ford buyout loom, and confirmation on the severity of Mike Dunleavy’s thumb injury also remain on the table, but no new faces will be arriving in Indianapolis. Whether the team chemistry and hard work of McRoberts/Hansbrough can make up for the lack of dynamic talent at the guard position remains to be seen, but we’ll all get our chance to find out. What this does do is show what kind of view McRoberts may hold not only in Memphis, but around the league, a positive sign for the young forward, who has one of the most valuable per production contracts in basketball, nay, sports.
No one is going to jump ship following the failure to complete this transaction, and the Pacers will be letting their contracts expire; still putting them in great position for the offseason, one that could ultimately revisit the O.J. Mayo deal. It’s time to move forward and hope what Indiana has is enough to get them where they want to go for the season. What it does to Memphis will be hard to say, but it won’t have any bearings on how Josh McRoberts plays on the floor, and that’s at least a silver lining to the whirlwind that was the 2011 NBA Trade Deadline.
But who knows, maybe it's a sign. The Pacers have had deadline deals fall through each of the last three years. The common theme? Brandon Rush. Maybe we were all just meant for each other.