Tag Archives: O.J. Mayo

NBA Free Agency: Wolves Reach Out To OJ Mayo, Spurn Andrei Kirilenko

Will OJ Mayo be making treys in 'Sota next season?

Will OJ Mayo be making treys in ‘Sota next season?

Fresh off of the NBA Draft and the subsequent  Shabazz mania, NBA free agency is upon us. Here’s what we know so far:

OJ Mayo

The Wolves have already talked with OJ Mayo’s camp. Mayo, in fact was Flip’s first stop in his free-agent shopping.

Reading the tea leaves on stuff like this is never easy, but it appears that at the very least, there may be some “there” there to the earlier RUMINT about Flip & co.’s interest in Mayo. Like it or not, Mayo is a professional, starting-caliber shooting guard who would bring veteran experience to the position that a rookie whose upside might be higher lacks (cough, C.J. McCollum, cough).

Still, given that an unhealthy Brandon Roy played in only five games last season and was replaced the rest of the way by Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea–point guards masquerading as shooting guards–it’s really tough to project how Mayo or any other traditional SG would fit into Rick’s offense.

Given what else is out there in free agency, I like Mayo the best of a bunch of imperfect possibilities to fill this area of need.

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Alexey Shved: Happy in Minneapolis, Plus OJ Mayo and Anthony Bennett


Alexey loves the land of 10,000 (frozen) lakes. It’s like Moscow.

Alexey Shved: Minneapolis is Moscow and Moscow is Minneapolis and I like Moscow so therefore I like Minneapolis

Andy G: Amid all of the pre-draft Playoffs craze, we haven’t devoted nearly enough (any?) attention to our favorite Timberwolf, Alexey Shved.

For some background, in case anyone forgot, here is the best visual representation of how Shved met “The Rookie Wall”:

It was tough to watch, both as a fan of Shved the player, and the Timberwolves team. His off-season will be as important to the team as anything it does in the draft or free agency. The team needs help at shooting guard in a bad way, and Alexey has had/might continue to have the opportunity to make the job his. He just needs to get [a lot] stronger and more consistent with his jump shot.

He gave an interview in Russia recently, which was partially interpreted in a Canis Hoopus thread by commenter RussianBeesnyestEenterest.com (I love that moniker, btw.) Shved had this to say about his rookie season, and hitting the rookie wall:

“I was not able to sustain that level of play for the season – mainly because it was very tiring. Other players also warned me that could happen to me. Avoiding these slumps was not possible though. Playing 82 games in five and a half months – that’s quite a prize (ironic). It is, for example, possible to have 5 games in just 7 days! And if the coaching staff gives you 25 to 30 minutes of playing time it is very hard to give them good basketball until the end of such a stretch. At the end of the day I had very pleasing games and very unpleasing ones. It gave me experience. And for next season, I will know what to expect right from the start. Of course I will work to ensure that I will play much more consistently.”

Importantly, he goes on to say that he’s returning to Minnesota on June 25 to work individually with the team on his off-season program.

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Timberwolves vs. Mavericks: Making It Rain in Big D

Mark Cuban on making it rain: "That's dumb shit that people with real money dont do." He better hope Dirk and OJ didn't get the memo...

Mark Cuban on making it rain: “That’s dumb shit that people with real money dont do.” He better hope Dirk and OJ didn’t get the memo…

Mark Cuban can make it rain. But does he? (No, he says. Read here why.) Can the Wolves make it rain tonight in Dallas? What about Juice and Dirk? Am I mixing metaphors? Could you tell if I weren’t? (RHETORICAL!)

Okay, so the Wolves take on the Mavs in Dallas Monday evening after suffering an exhausting, frustrating loss last night in San Antonio. Dallas (15-23) recently fell to 10 games under .500 for the first time in 13 years last week. But Big D has since begun to pick up the slack. Dirk & co picked up a 117-112 overtime win at Sacramento, and followed it up by destroying Western Conference Contender Memphis Grizzlies 104-83 on Saturday. Dirk is coming back to form, just as the Wolves are settling into a Love-less reality.

Which Mavs team will show up tonight? Who knows? But it does look like the Wolves are catching Dallas on an upswing, not the downswing they were on a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, the Wolves are in the midst of a fairly horrible downswing of their own. So, for the sake of argument, let’s say that “momentum” – whatever that is – is in Dallas’ favor.

What’s wrong with the Wolves? Injuries, coaching, and shooting, for starters. More below the fold.

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Half & Half: A 2-Part Game Wrap (Wolves 90, MAVERICKS 82)

In the interest of getting some much-needed, early-in-the-week sleep, I’m doing this wrap in two parts–first and second half splits.  So the first half is being written at halftime.

1st Half Notes

The first half–and especially the first quarter–was dominated by the Wolves two best healthy players: Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic. [Eds note: In hindsight, I should not have phrased that sentence that way. More on that in the 2nd Half.]  Pek showed off a move that he’s clearly been working on with Coach Billy Bayno, the standard jump hook.  He buried three of these with his right hand in the opening quarter and finished the half with an impressive 13 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists.  It’s hard to understate the importance of this new skill, because as defenders become forced to defend it honestly it will open up his go-to favorite, the drop step.  We’ve seen Pek taking a hard right-hand dribble into the paint when defenders cheat to his right (baseline side/left block) shoulder and try jump hooks.  He makes them sometimes.  What we saw in the first half tonight was on the right block–more of a standard post hook.  Pek improves at things.  That’s mostly a credit to him but also to Rick Adelman’s coaching staff.

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Wolves vs. Mavericks Preview

The Wolves take on former Timberwolf OJ Mayo tonight in Dallas

Tonight it’s Mayo versus Shved. Mano-a-mano. Like a bullfight in which two matadors duel for an audience’s admiration, it’s OJ against Alexey no matter how much better it might be if it were a young Jet against a healthy Roy.

There’s no Budinger, either, and that has implications for how the Wolves are likely to play.

Still Mayo is averaging 21.9 ppg and Shved has been making a difference for the Wolves, too.

In fact, most of the main attractions will either be wearing a suit, or watching from somewhere in Minnesota. 

No Dirk Nowitzki for the Mavs. No K-Love or Ricky Rubio (again) for the Timberwolves. J.J. Barea is out too. 

Still both teams have winning records, so there are signs of life for the depleted Mavs and reasons for hope for the aspiring Wolves. In and of itself, this is surprising given that neither team’s All-Star power forward has played a minute this season.

Deets below the fold…

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INBOX: Target Practice, the Pau and Monta Edition


RUMINT has it that the Lakers would throw in Pau's Ed Hardy shirt for a conditional second-rounder, which Kahn demanded as a part of any trade

Patrick J: With all rumors swirling around Pau Gasol, the only thing for a hard-up blogger to do is fire up the good ol’ trade machine.

Wolves get:
Pau Gasol
Darius Morris

Lakers get:
Michael Beasley
Derrick Williams
Wes Johnson
Luke Ridnour

In this two-team trade, the Wolves’ lineup would look something like:

PG – Rubio
SG – Barea
SF – Webster
PF – Love/Randolph/Tolliver
C – Gasol/Pekovic
6th man: Pekovic

The Wolves end up with a Pau, Ricky, K-Love core. Barea and Webster are arguably upgrades over Johnson and Ridnour as starters at the 2 & 3. Pek is a matchup nightmare against opposing teams’ second units. We still have one high-upside enigma with Anthony Randolph. (One’s enough, right?)

An elephant in the room common sense question is whether the Wolves would be competitive in a Pau Sweepstakes.

John Hollinger’s (Insider) column suggests the answer may be no:

“It’s not hard coming up with dance partners, that’s for sure. Send him to Houston for Luis Scola,Goran Dragic, Marcus Morris and Chase Budinger, and the Lakers suddenly fill four rotation spots with one deal while saving several million on luxury tax; deal him to Indiana for David West,George Hill and Dahntay Jones and you accomplish a similar feat. These aren’t the only possibilities; one can build similar trades with several other teams, ones that don’t bring back a talent on Gasol’s level but plug so many gaps that it may be worth it anyway.”

Can a Williams/Beasley/Ridnour/Johnson package compete with Scola/Dragic/Morris/Budinger or West/Hill/Jones? We know the Rockets really want Gasol, and that’d be a pretty strong offer. What do you think?

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INBOX: ’08ers Being Frozen Out? (The Conspiracy Theory Edition)

Andy G: We wrote some about the awesome 2008 Draft class, yesterday. With Michael Beasley losing minutes to Wesley Johnson, and AR15 racking up DNP-CD’s the way J.J. Barea racks up wild turnovers, is it possible that these restricted free agents are being frozen out of bigger pay days?

I mean, there’s more-than-plausible deniability here; each guy has his own weaknesses and hardly COMMANDS big minutes. Beasley gets lost on defense and scores inefficiently more often than not, and AR15 has bouts of losing all control of his emotions and play. But Mike provides needed shot creation and AR15 racks up production in short minutes at reasonable efficiency… next summer, they’ll be taking their talents around the league, looking for long-term contracts. Might it be that Adelman or (more likely) KAHN are scheming to limit those contracts, perhaps planning to re-sign at least one of them at a bargain bin rate?

Patrick J: I like where you’re going with this, but I’ll disagree anyway. These guys are pretty much the basketball equivalent of that hot girl you always see at the bar whenever you go out for a drink: lots of potential on the outside, but deep down you know she wouldn’t be there if she weren’t deeply flawed on the inside. Randolph’s problems show up less in the stats than on the court. He just can’t control his body or emotions. (Sort of like that girl.) Beasley’s unfocused disengagement gets more troubling by the game. Both look like reconcilables, but they’d need the right situation, coaching, teammates, role, etc, and I think we’ll be lucky if either turns it around here. So I’ll give Adelman and Kahn the benefit of the doubt on this one–you know they want to exploit that talent more than anyone.

AG: Okay, I like the analogy, and you are probably right. How about tihs: Let’s assume that ONE of these two guys is getting the Isaiah Thomas Freeze-Out from some combination of Kahn, various Adelmans, and (just for fun) Rob Moor.

Which guy do you think the team would intentionally withhold an opportunity to, in hopes of retaining him at a discount?

PJ: I guess if we think through the implications of the theory, the answer would be Randolph–the reason being that he appears to be permanently benched DESPITE putting up solid numbers and being on the floor during many of the team’s better early-season runs, which often came during 2nd-half comebacks. In contrast, Beasley keeps getting fairly consistent, if limited, minutes. It’s weird to think about this since Randolph doesn’t seem like he’d be that expensive regardless, but he’s got the raw athleticism, length, and basketball IQ of DeAndre Jordan, and Jordan got paid (relatively speaking) after just one decent season, so it isn’t inconceivable that the same could happen to Randolph if he got enough showcase this year.

AG: I would also bet on Randolph, if forced to choose. I’ve been kicking around Derrick Williams trade ideas like it’s my job (even though I still like D-Thrill as a budding power forward prospect) and I’d guess R.J. Adelman spends much of his day doing the same. If the team can get wing value for D-Thrill (like Mayo, or Redick, or Kevin Martin, or Monta Ellis, or…) then all of a sudden AR15 means more to the team as a long-term backup big man. By freezing him out of minutes this year, they’re positioning themselves to be able to match what promises to be a reasonable offer, if he gets one. Problem is, he might just take his qualifying offer (if we extend it) and wait for UFA status. Hard to say, but I enjoy NBA conspiracy theories.

PJ: Here’s a question regarding another ’08er: Would you trade Derrick Williams for O.J. Mayo? Would Kahn? Would Chris Wallace?? With Z-Bo out, Memphis needs a PF and the Wolves need a SG, so the basic logic seems sound. But it hurts my brain to try to work through Kahn’s and Wallace’s potential thought processes. Who says no?

AG: D-Thrill for O.J.? I’m not sure that either team does it. Williams isn’t good enough (yet) to be relied upon by a team that hopes to contend for a championship. O.J. isn’t good enough for the Wolves to trade the most-recent #2 pick in the draft for. The trade would have to be adjusted somehow in our favor. Anyway, that’s probably enough speculation about the ’08ers for now. Until next time.

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INBOX: The Trade Speculation Edition

An impossible dream?


Q: How about this: Derrick Williams and Nikola Pekovic for Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza? The Wolves need a shooting guard. Pek is playing out of his mind. Williams still has the reputation value of a #2 pick. Gordon is pissed about being traded to New Orleans and has only played 2 games this year, with a “knee contusion” that wasn’t really a contusion. He’s probably not even injured. Trade machine says it’d be legal. Why don’t both teams help themselves and do this deal?

– Andy G

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Memphis Buzzkill (Grizzlies 90 WOLVES 86)

The Zach Randolph-less but playoff-tested Memphis Grizzlies came out and punched the Wolves in the collective mouth, tonight.  Without their best offensive weapon, Memphis locked in a defensive effort that held the Wolves starters to 3 points in the first 8 minutes of Wednesday’s game.  The 18-3 early deficit was not only thanks to the Grizzly defense, but also careless dribbling by Michael Beasley, whose 5-turnover, 5-16 shooting night marked a solid regression from Monday’s seeming snap-out-of-it effort.

Despite the lethargic and carefree effort against the reigning Western Conference Semi-Finalist, the Wolves found themselves ahead 68-63 with 7 minutes to go in the 4th Quarter.  I was pleasantly surprised to see this young-and-flashy crew surviving a dogfight of a game with the tone clearly-set by the dogged defensive effort of the veteran Grizzlies.  The game bore resemblance to the recent loss to Milwaukee, where a half court, physical battle was not to the Wolves liking.  Particularly with respect to young Rubio (12 points, 10 assists, 4 turnovers) tonight showed an ability to respond proactively to elite pressure defense.

But alas, the game fell apart down the stretch.  Spearheaded by former Timberwolf draftee, O.J. Mayo, the Grizz ripped off a 13-0 4th Quarter run that was more reminiscent of last season than anything us excited fans have witnessed, thus far in the Adelman Era.  Along with defensive struggles against the versatile Memphis swingmen, the Wolves (specifically, Ricky Rubio and Michael Beasley) missed 4 of 4 free throw attempts during this ugly and extended sequence.  In fact, Minnesota shot a pitiful 13-24 from the charity stripe; a lousy 54 percent that, more than anything, cost them this otherwise-winnable contest.

Thanks to desperation three’s sunk by Rubio and Love, the game went further than expected.  But the final was 90-86 in favor of the Grizz, leaving Minnesota 2-4 after this most-difficult stretch to open the shortened season.

A few more jottings to wrap this one up:

* Kevin Love, as always, filled the stat sheet with 27 points and 14 rebounds.  This was not even close to his finest effort, however.  He started the game almost as sluggishly as Beasley did, turning the ball over a total of 3 times with 0 assists.  Love was a team-worst (-11) tonight.

* Anthony Tolliver–typically my go-to-guy for identifying the embrace of Rubio-led catch-and-shoot basketball–made the fatal mistake of passing up an open trey to put the ball on the floor.  With one minute to go, down by 2, AT drove and jumped to pass to a Grizzly player who gladly accepted the charity layup to seal the deal on this night.  AT is a smart and aggressive player who will certainly remember next time to catch the ball and shoot it.

* Wes Johnson reverted to his old self after an outlierish 6 for 6 against the Spurs.  Tonight’s 0-5 in 16 minutes is more reflective of his NBA worth.

* Derrick Williams probably earned more playing time in this game than he received.  In just 16 minutes he put together a 6-point, 2-rebound, 1-assist, 0-turnover stat sheet and the team was (+5) with D-Thrill on the court.  As usual, he threw down an emphatic Rubioop with authority.  The rookie is making strides.

* Although Darko rebounded better than usual (8 rebounds, 3 offensive, in 22 minutes) he struggled in parts of this game against the savvy Marc Gasol.  The Spaniard big man is one of the few true centers the NBA has left, and Adelman–perhaps wisely–left Darko on the floor to counter this mammoth interior presence.  In any case, Darko had a (-7) tonight and shot only 1-6.

The Timberwolves cannot relax, BUT– the schedule will now ease up a bit.  We now dip into the extremely-weak bottom half of the Eastern Conference, with Cleveland coming to Target Center on Friday Night.  After that is a short road trip against the atrocious Washington Wi-ZARDS and then the improving-but-beatable Toronto Raptors.  If I had to bet, it would be that the Wolves will win 2 of 3.  However, a clean sweep of these bottom feeders would show a strong resurgence after blowing this one against the depleted Grizzlies of Memphis.

Season Record: 2-4


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