O.J. Mayo

O.J. Mayo Signs In Puerto Rico, Eyes NBA Comeback

O.J. Mayo, whose two-year ban from the NBA expires this summer, has reached an agreement to play in Puerto Rico, tweets NBA agent Christian Santaella.

Mayo’s suspension was related to abuse of a prescription pain medication, which violated the league’s anti-drug program. It was a second offense for Mayo, who was suspended for 10 games in 2011 after testing positive for a banned steroid. He will be eligible to apply for reinstatement on July 1.

The third player taken in the 2008 draft, Mayo played four seasons in Memphis before signing with Dallas as a free agent in 2012. A year later, he signed with Milwaukee and spent three seasons there before the suspension.

As we relayed in August, Mayo, now 30, has been working with a personal coach and trainer in hopes of getting an opportunity to play overseas. He expressed interest in returning to the Bucks to pick up his career where it left off, although the close relationship he cited with coach Jason Kidd won’t be a factor now that Kidd has been replaced.

Mayo will have to get the approval of both the NBA and the players union before being cleared to return.

And-Ones: G League Expansion, Mayo, Van Gundy

The G League held its expansion draft to accommodate for the association’s four new franchises and Chris Reichert of 2 Ways, 10 Days has broken down the results, recapping the nuances of the developmental league’s various processes.

As Reichert lays out, teams made their bids for each player’s returning rights for a period of two seasons. What that means is that the G League clubs will effectively reserve those players should they ever find themselves back in the league. Many currently ply their trade either for NBA squads or for teams overseas.

The current NBA crop selected in the G League expansion draft is headlined by Sean Kilpatrick and Okaro White. The big league rotation players, however, are unlikely to return to the G League, at least in 2017/18, rendering them ineffective selections.

There’s more from around the NBA:

  • Speaking of G League peculiarities, the Oklahoma City Blue (the G League affiliate of the Thunder) made a trade with the SLC Stars (Jazz affiliate) for the rights to Marcus Paige but, as Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer explains, Paige will actually suit up for the Greensboro Swarm (Hornets affiliate). Earlier this month the Hornets signed Paige to a two-way deal and that supersedes whichever team owns his G League rights.
  • With one more year left on his suspension, former Bucks guard O.J. Mayo could consider a gig in the G League, Adam Johnson of 2 Ways, 10 Days opines. There is, however, no guarantee that he would be permitted to do so.
  • It’s been a decade since he coached the Rockets, which makes Jeff Van Gundy‘s return to the bench with Team USA all that much more exciting. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN recently spoke with Van Gundy about his role with the USA Basketball World Cup qualifying team.

And-Ones: M. Robinson, Mayo, Eurobasket

Five-star recruit Mitchell Robinson, who initially enrolled at Western Kentucky, has left the program and is not expected to play college ball in 2017/18, according to Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports. Jon Rothstein of FanRagSports had reported several days ago that Robinson was considering sitting out the season in order to prepare for the 2018 NBA draft.

Robinson, a seven-footer who is considered a likely first-round pick next summer, had been considering transferring to Kansas or another school, but would probably have had to sit out the 2017/18 season anyway in that scenario, Forde notes. Robinson could opt to go the Terrance Ferguson route and play in another professional league for one year, but a high-level European club is unlikely to rent the young center for a single season, tweets ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla.

As we wait to see what the future holds for Robinson, let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world…

  • As we detailed earlier in the week, O.J. Mayo‘s two-year ban from the NBA ensures that he’ll sit out at least one more season. However, that ban doesn’t preclude him from playing in the G League. Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days looks into whether it makes sense for Mayo to suit up for a G League club this season in an effort to rehabilitate his image and stay on the radar of NBA teams.
  • This week’s Kyrie Irving mega-deal is the latest signal that the NBA is becoming a year-round league, Sam Amick writes in an interesting piece for USA Today. As Amick observes, the non-stop drama of the NBA offseason is good news for commissioner Adam Silver, who has expressed a desire to rival the NFL in terms of popularity.
  • With the 2017 Eurobasket tournament around the corner, several teams are finalizing and announcing their rosters. Via Sportando, here are the 12-man squads for Spain and Lithuania, each of which feature multiple NBA players.
  • After playing Summer League ball for the Knicks, undrafted rookie Canyon Barry will begin his professional career in Finland. The son of Rick Barry spoke to Ian Begley of ESPN.com about his father’s influence on his game, including his free-throw shooting style.

O.J. Mayo Has Interest In Playing Overseas

Former third overall pick O.J. Mayo has now been out of the NBA for a full season, having been banned for two years for violating the terms of the league’s anti-drug program. However, as Ben Golliver of SI.com details in an in-depth look at Mayo’s current situation, the veteran shooting guard received FIBA clearance last November and has interest in playing for a team in China, Spain, or Israel.

Despite that interest, Mayo has not yet fielded offers from teams in those countries and leagues. In the meantime, the 29-year-old has been working with skills and development coach Chris Johnson and strength and fitness trainer Travelle Gaines in the hopes of getting back into game shape. If no international opportunities materialize, Mayo is expected to continue his training program with Johnson and Gaines in Minnesota, where the duo will work with Jimmy Butler.

Mayo, who acknowledged that abuse of a prescription pain medication triggered his two-year ban from the NBA, said that not being able to play basketball last season was “probably the closest thing to jail that I’ll get to,” adding that it was the low point of his life.

“The shellshock of not being in the NBA,” Mayo said. “All my peers are playing and I’m not because of boneheaded mistakes. Take the ball away, what is there to do?”

Mayo will be eligible to apply for reinstatement to the NBA on July 1, 2018, and his return must be approved by both the league and the players’ union. As Golliver notes, a number of factors will go into that decision, and Mayo will have to show that he hasn’t failed any marijuana or drug tests for a year prior to his reinstatement. If he does get the chance to play in the NBA again, the former Buck suggests he might like another chance to prove his worth in Milwaukee.

“I want to go back to what I left [in Milwaukee],” Mayo told Golliver when asked about his dream destination. “I was real close with [head coach] Jason Kidd. That was the best relationship I had with a coach besides [AAU coach Dwaine Barnes]. I had great relationships with Giannis [Antetokounmpo] and Khris Middleton. I was comfortable there. I felt like I let them down, cheated them for two years. They paid me $8 million to be, in my eyes, a subpar player. They invested millions of dollars for me to be on top of my s–t, and when you’re not on top of your s–t, it shows. I’ll be 30 next summer. If they just give me the chance, I can make it up. I owe them.”

Bucks Notes: James, Maker, Dellavedova, Mayo

The Bucks may be close to signing point guard Ra’shad James, according to Gery Woelfel of Woelfel’s Press Box. James has never played in the NBA, but he seems to be attracting attention after a long list of stops in the D-League and overseas. “We’ve had interest in the Bucks and they have had interest in Ra’shad,’’ James’ agent, Bill Neff, told Woelfel. “Nothing is finalized; there’s still some paperwork to do. But both sides want to do it.’’ A product of Iona, the 6’1″ James spent the end of last season with the Westchester Knicks in the D-League and averaged 16.5 points in 15 games. He averaged 14.2 points in five games with Milwaukee’s summer league team in Las Vegas. The Bucks have an opening for James, Woelfel notes, as they have 13 players under contract and are expected to re-sign Steve Novak.

There’s more news out of Milwaukee:

  • Bucks management understands the need to be patient with first-round pick Thon Maker, GM John Hammond said in a video interview with Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Milwaukee took the 19-year-old 10th overall with the understanding that he would need to develop strength and grow into his 7’1″ frame. Hammond said the Bucks would like to see Maker eventually add about 20 pounds. He noted that Maker played very well at the start of summer league, but wore down quickly.
  • Matthew Dellavedova‘s feisty attitude and physical defense are just what the Bucks have been lacking, writes Gary D’Amato of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Milwaukee acquired the Australian point guard in a sign-and-trade with the Cavaliers after reaching a four-year, $38MM agreement with him. “I’ll go from being a younger guy on a veteran team to more of an older veteran on a younger team,” he said. “So I’m looking forward to that opportunity. They’ve got a lot of young guys with potential and length, obviously. Playing against them, I know they’ve got a lot of potential there.”
  • Despite a two-year ban for violating the league’s drug policy, O.J. Mayo insists his NBA career isn’t over. In a video on TMZ, Mayo said he has already filed an appeal of the ruling. Mayo averaged 7.8 points in 41 games with the Bucks last season.

O.J. Mayo Dismissed From NBA

The NBA has dismissed and disqualified O.J. Mayo from the league for violating the terms of its anti-drug program, Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated reports (via Twitter). The shooting guard will be eligible to apply for reinstatement in two years, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today tweets. It’s unclear exactly what drugs Mayo allegedly had in his system to prompt such a response from the league, though early indications are that it was a “drug of abuse,” and not PEDs or marijuana.

The timing could not have been worse for Mayo, who is an unrestricted free agent, given the magnitude of the contracts reportedly agreed upon thus far. But financial concerns aside, one hopes that this will act as a wake-up call for the player and he will be able to get his life and career back on track. It’s unclear if the NBPA with file an appeal on his behalf at this time. The guard previously tested positive back in 2011 for dehydroepiandrosterone, an over-the-counter steroid precursor, Ken Berger of CBSSports notes (on Twitter).

Mayo, 28, appeared in 41 games for Milwaukee this season and averaged 7.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 26.6 minutes per outing. His shooting line was .371/.321/.775.

Eastern Notes: Lin, Novak, Mayo, Vasquez, Jefferson

Jeremy Lin was convinced he would sign with the Mavericks for the room exception this past summer, as he told Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk, but Dallas turned away when DeAndre Jordan reneged on his commitment to the Mavs, leading the point guard to turn to the Hornets instead. “Charlotte came out of nowhere,” Lin said. “Had I known it was going to go down the way it went down, I would’ve definitely planned things a little differently.” 

Lin enjoys his Hornets teammates, but no guarantee exists that he’ll be back with them next season, since he can opt out of his contract. No team gave a higher percentage of its minutes after the trade deadline to players who can hit free agency this summer, Feldman points out, but Charlotte has been successful because of an unusual bond between the players, as Feldman details. Al Jefferson conceded that he probably wouldn’t have accepted a reduced role during a contract year if he were younger but said he’s never been on a team quite like this one in Charlotte.

See more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Steve Novak wants to re-sign with the Bucks after a brief, injury-shortened time in Milwaukee this season, and coach Jason Kidd indicated that the feeling is mutual as the team seeks to improve its shooting, notes Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Novak is a guy we thought was going to help in that [shooting] department,” Kidd said. “Hopefully we can re-sign him. We liked what he did briefly on the floor, but we also enjoyed what he did for us off the floor, even being hurt. That’s what a vet does. We would all love to have him back. That kind of threat is what we need as a team to have any kind of success.”
  • Gardner suggests in the same piece that the Bucks want to move on from O.J. Mayo and Greivis Vasquez but have better regard for Jerryd Bayless. All three will hit free agency in July.
  • Richard Jefferson‘s contribution in Game 1 was subtle but important and showed the value of his signing this past offseason for the Cavaliers, observe Michael Beaven 
and George Thomas of the Akron Beacon Journal.

Bucks Notes: Howard, Antetokounmpo, Knight

If the Bucks are looking to make a splash in free agency for the second straight summer, Dwight Howard could be the player to target, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. The Rockets’ center has expressed his intention to turn down a player option for next season worth $23.282MM and seek a maximum contract starting at about $30MM. Milwaukee was among the teams that expressed interest in acquiring him before last month’s trade deadline, and Howard said he was intrigued by the possibility. Bontemps believes Howard would be the kind of defensive anchor that Greg Monroe failed to become after he signed with the Bucks last offseason. Depending where the salary cap is set, Milwaukee could have more than $20MM to spend if it doesn’t re-sign Jerryd Bayless, Greivis Vasquez and O.J. Mayo.

There’s more news out of Milwaukee:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo could be in line for a maximum contract extension over the summer, Bontemps writes in the same piece. Coach Jason Kidd recently anointed Antetokounmpo as the Bucks’ starting point guard for next season, and the franchise could reward him with a max deal. At age 21, the third-year pro has blossomed in Milwaukee, averaging 18.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.9 blocks per game since the All-Star break.
  • The Bucks had to make a choice last season between giving a long-term contract to Khris Middleton or Brandon Knight, according to Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Milwaukee shipped Knight to Phoenix in a three-team trade in February of 2015 and re-signed Middleton at $70MM over five years. “We had a good time while we played,” said Knight, who on Wednesday returned to Milwaukee for his first game there since the deal. “I think we [the Bucks] were just scratching the surface. Who knows where we could have went to?”
  • Wednesday marked the first game for Vasquez since November 27th, Gardner notes in a separate story. The backup point guard had surgery on his right ankle in December and was sidelined for 58 games. “You miss that many games, and the coach gives you an opportunity to play the game that you love, it means a lot to me,” Vasquez said. “It also shows what a class act this franchise is, because they’ve been with me the whole time.” Vasquez is headed toward free agency after earning $6.6MM this season.

Eastern Notes: Mayo, Millsap, Jackson

The Bucks have suffered a rash of injuries this season and the team is currently down to just 10 healthy bodies, though center John Henson is getting closer to making his return from back woes. Despite his team being depleted, coach Jason Kidd indicated that Milwaukee has no immediate plans to add a player via hardship allowance, Charles F. Gardner of The Journal-Sentinel relays. “We’re going to play with the group we have,” Kidd said. “We have plenty of guys still; we’re not down to eight.” The Bucks are without O.J. Mayo, Michael Carter-Williams and Steve Novak, who are lost for the season, and Greivis Vasquez is out until at least March 25th with an ankle injury.

Kidd also noted that Mayo went to the doctor on Wednesday, the day prior to the announcement that he broke his right ankle walking down a flight of stairs at his home, because he we sick, Gardner relays. While the timing may raise eyebrows, Kidd indicated that the organization was taking the veteran shooting guard at his word, Gardner adds. “Anytime someone is sick, unless you’re going to play, we keep you home,” Kidd said. “Then the next day we get the call that he tripped and hurt himself, that he was going to the hospital. There are going to be stories. Everyone is going to have their opinion. But we can only go on what O.J. told us, and that’s what he told us.

Here’s more from the East….

  • Knicks team president Phil Jackson downplayed the notion that he would leave the team prior to the expiration of his five-year deal, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News writes. “I’m still in it,” Jackson said. “I’m in it to win it.” Jackson didn’t deny his fondness for the West Coast, but noted his job in New York isn’t complete yet, Medina adds. “The energy that I have is directed toward turning this team around,” Jackson continued. “That’s taken my full effort.
  • Returning to Utah this week brought back memories for Paul Millsap, who spent his first seven seasons in the league with the Jazz, Jody Genessy of The Deseret News relays. Millsap said he had fond regards for his time in Utah, while Atlanta coach/executive Mike Budenholzer said he’s thrilled the talented big man is a member of the Hawks organization, telling Genessy, “He means so much. He fits us well. He’s a great teammate. He plays both ends of the court at a high level. He’s very unique in how talented he is with some of the things he does. I’m just very thankful that he’s with us.

O.J. Mayo Breaks Ankle, Out For Season

3:50pm: Mayo suffered a broken right ankle after he tripped descending the stairs at his home, the team relayed in its official announcement. Milwaukee’s statement also confirms that Mayo is indeed out for the remainder of the season.

3:04pm: O.J. Mayo has a broken leg and will miss the rest of the season, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The 28-year-old is on an expiring contract, so he’s poised to enter free agency this summer. The injury took place this week, according to Charania, though it’s unclear from the report which leg is broken.

The shooting guard’s injury is just the latest in a string that the Bucks have been struck with. Both Michael Carter-Williams and Steve Novak are lost for the season, Greivis Vasquez is out until at least March 25th with an ankle injury and John Henson is expected to miss at least another week with back woes. The Bucks have the regular season maximum of 15 players on their roster, but with four players expected to miss two weeks or more the team will be eligible to apply to the league for a hardship allowance, which would grant them a 16th roster spot if approved.

Mayo, who is earning $8MM in the final season of his current deal, appeared in 41 games this season and was averaging 7.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 26.6 minutes per night. His scoring average for 2015/16 is by far the lowest in his eight seasons in the league, with his shooting line on the season an anemic .371/.321/.775.