Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas is reporting that Dallas Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo will opt out of his current deal and enter free agency for the second straight year, and the New York Knicks are a team that should be paying attention.
At this point, I think I know what some of you are thinking.
But wait a minute, Josh. The Knicks already have a fine shooting guard and sixth man in J.R. Smith! Why on earth would team management consider ditching him in favor of a pure shooter in Mayo??
Well, I’m glad you asked!
The fact is that while Smith did have a great year coming off the bench in New York, posting a career best 18.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, not to mention shoot 42 percent from the field and 36 percent from long range. In terms of sixth men, those numbers are mind-blowing.
But the reality is that when free agency begins in July, Smith is going to be due a raise. Given the contracts that New York already has on the books, not to mention Smith’s preference to start, bringing him back to the Knicks would mean GM Glen Grunwald convincing him to take a major hometown discount. Knowing Smith and the mentality of most free agents after a great season, that’s just not going to happen.
Enter Mayo, a pure shooter who did a fine job as Dallas’ starting shooting guard this season. He averaged 15.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, and also shot 45 percent from the floor and 41 percent from long range.
Now, in hindsight, Mayo is a downgrade over Smith. He is not as strong an athlete, nor is his offensive attack as versatile. He either shoots threes or drives to the basket, very rarely creating off the dribble.
But the fact of the matter is that financially, Mayo makes sense for the Knicks. He may not get a chance to start, depending on what’s in the cards for future star Iman Shumpert, but he can still provide instant offense for a team that could potentially lose one of its key weapons in Smith, who could very well depart for a larger contract.
This is all speculation at this point, but it’s going to be hard to ignore come the summer. With Smith’s price tag rising with each passing game, New York may not have a choice but to give Mayo a call at some point.