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A Quick Q & A on O.J. Mayo's Trade Status

Earlier today,  Oceanary from our SBNation Timberwovles Blog Canis Hoopus sent me an e-mail asking me about O.J. Mayo. He had a couple of questions regard his trade status as his name had been linked to Minnesota as someone David Kahn has been targeting.

Here are his questions and the answers I had for him.

First off, is Mayo available?

As far as availability, I''d say that he is, though the organization has gone with the usual "we're not looking to deal" prose, he's their best trade piece and they are about a move or two away from becoming a consistent playoff team. 
What's the asking price for him?
If Memphis was to deal him, I'd say the asking price has been lowered significantly than it was last year. I think they still would want two "good" players back for him but last year the talk was more like "one or two good players and give us a pick, too." If Minnesota was the team, perhaps Wesley Johnson, Jonny Flynn and one of your centers (Darko Milicic, Kosta Koufos, Nikola Pekovic or Anthony Tolliver) would be on the wish list. 

Corey Brewer, I think, doesn't have much value to Memphis because he still hasn't found a shot and Sam Young does some of the same things. Johnson, despite his advanced rookie age, has a bit more more room to grow and he's already a pretty good shooter (36% from three as opposed to 27% for Brewer).

Flynn is a point guard and I'm sure you know those don't grow on tree's in Memphis, a team that has seen Allen Iverson and Marcus Williams run point over the past few seasons, which caused them to give Mike Conley a ridiculous sum of cash - and his play has been so bad, they recently signed Jason Williams to a contract.

And one of your centers would be nice because, despite the awesome Gasol-Randolph combo, Darrel Arthur is not good enough to play Lamar Odom to their Pau/Bynum, so Memphis has no back-up center. Of course, Memphis would be taking one of your centers and be forcing you to take Hasheem Thabeet and his 2nd overall pick contract, which is the Mayo-tax at this point.
What's the deal with his demotion to the bench this season?
His demotion was made because he wasn't fitting in well with the first team, which has been an issue since he was drafted, and because the bench was one of the worst in the league because of their lack of a shot creator. Mayo has said all of the right things, but obviously going to the bench is not something any player would be happy about, at least one that's 23-years old.

It's been a rough year for O.J. overall. First, he was asked to go to Summer League (very odd for a third year player that was clearly the best player in Las Vegas other than John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins) as the team wanted him to learn how to play point guard again like he did in high school. He played two games and collected six assists. He was cut from Team USA in favor of Eric Gordon or Stephen Curry while his teammate Rudy Gay made the squad, which had to sting, given their subtle battle in Memphis over supremacy in Memphis' backcourt (in which case, Gay's max contract must have hurt, too). Then he gets benched in favor of Sam Young and then he gets suspended for testing positive for DHEA. 
Your thoughts on Mayo overall?
Mayo is a young player and one that can play a lot better than he has this season but most people have given up on the notion that he's got room to grow his game. He's been largely the same player for the past three years. You can argue that he's flatlined because he's got three superior teammates that take touches on his team and that he could do better with a bigger responsibility within the offense but you can say that he's shown no sign of turning himself into something a lot better just as easily with the same amount of information to back-up your claim. 

I'm on Mayo's side in terms of whether or not he can grow. I've been a firm believer that he'd go to Los Angeles to take Kobe's spot in a couple of years (though the team would obviously feature Bynum as the number one option) and I think he can be a 20 points per game scorer on a playoff team. In Minnesota, he should fit well if a deal is made. Most people likely think of the T'Wolves as the Kevin Love rebounding show and the Michael Beasley ISO party in late games with little to no perimeter help to speak of. Mayo is a threat and he can get his own shot off the dribble decently. At the least, he's clearly an upgrade over Corey Brewer and he's fairly cheap at $4.5 million. 
Mayo has been a frequent topic of discussion for us this season and as the trade deadline nears, we'll get some insight as to what the front office thinks about his future with the team.

My question to Bryan: Can the Grizzlies have Rubio? A Rubio for Mayo/Thabeet swap would be a nice way to make up for the 58 players better than Thabeet that Memphis passed on to take him second overall. And his buddy Marc from Spain is here to make him happy. Who am I kidding, he'd never come to Memphis, but we can dream, can't we?