Timberwolves To Target O.J. Mayo

With Flip Saunders assuming control of the Timberwolves' basketball operations, the team's coming offseason figures to play out a little differently than past summers under GM David Kahn. Nonetheless, it sounds as if Saunders will be targeting at least one player that Kahn pursued in the past. Dan Barreiro of KFAN in Minneapolis tweets that he expects the T-Wolves to "go hard" after O.J. Mayo this summer.

Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities follows up on Barreiro's tweet, confirming his report and noting (via Twitter) that he has heard from multiple people that Saunders likes Mayo. Wolfson adds (via Twitter) that the Wolves figure to have plenty of other players on their wish list and that creating the necessary cap space for the free agent guard may be tricky, but that Mayo has been cited by multiple sources as a likely target for Minnesota.

Assuming Brandon Roy's and Greg Stiemsma's contracts for 2013/14 are fully non-guaranteed, the Wolves only have about $36MM in guaranteed salary on their books for next season. That would seem to give them plenty of room to make a run at Mayo, who I predicted would earn more than the mid-level. However, that total doesn't include Andrei Kirilenko's $10.22MM player option, and it also assumes the team won't bring back restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic. If Kirilenko opts in and Pekovic returns on a $10-12MM salary, the Wolves won't have much room left to make Mayo a lucrative offer.

A sign-and-trade deal with the Mavericks is also a possibility if Minnesota doesn't have the necessary cap space to sign Mayo outright. But taking on salary in a Mayo trade could compromise Dallas' other plans in free agency, so I'd expect the Mavs to be reluctant to work out a Mayo deal unless they were presented an offer they couldn't refuse.

It's also worth mentioning that, since Mayo has a $4.2MM player option for next season, he could still decide to exercise that option before June 30th, avoiding free agency. The 25-year-old is considered extremely likely to opt out and become a free agent though.

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