When the Milwaukee Bucks signed O.J. Mayo to a three-year deal worth $24 million before the start of the 2013-14 season, it was with the thought that he would help the Bucks make it past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since the 2000-01 season. After stints with the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies, many felt that Mayo hadn’t shown what he was really capable of and that in Milwaukee, he’d finally have the breakout season that would make him one of the elite shooting guards in the NBA.
But as everyone knows, things didn’t work out that way.
Mayo had one of his worst seasons since being drafted in 2008, averaging a meager 11.7 points, 2.2 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game. He played in just 52 games in 2013-14 and of those, he started in only 23. Unfortunately for Mayo, this is what can happen when a rookie like Giannis Antetokounmpo arrives showing so much potential and the season’s over before it even really began.
After posting a dismal 15-67 record, the offseason saw new ownership come in and a much needed change of direction take hold. Larry Drew was out as coach, replaced by Jason Kidd, and the Bucks began the long process of rebuilding what was once a proud franchise. On draft night, Milwaukee took Jabari Parker with the second overall pick and, along with Antetokounmpo and Brandon Knight, the Bucks now have a young, energizing core to build around.
A core that probably won’t include Mayo.
Mayo is entering his seventh NBA season and is going to be 27 years old. With Antetokounmpo all but certain to be the team’s starting 2-guard and the Bucks having signed Jerryd Bayless this offseason, Mayo will be in a fight to get any minutes on the floor, which he is going to need if the Bucks want to unload him and his contract before the season starts or at the trade deadline.
The one thing Mayo has going for him is that he apparently has a fan in Jason Kidd. When talking with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Kidd was asked about Mayo and had nothing but positive things to say:
“I haven’t had any discussions yet with him, but we’re looking to talk in the next couple days. I think the big thing with O.J. — I’ve known him since he was in high school — and he’s a great kid, loves the game of basketball. I don’t know exactly what happened with him last year. But when you look at him playing in Memphis, playing in Dallas, he was playing at a very high level. That’s our job, is to get him back there. He can score the ball. He can shoot the ball as well as anybody in the league.”
It’s a shame that Mayo’s contract is so pricy, because he could be an invaluable bench player for a Bucks team filled with young, inexperienced kids that are going to need some guidance. But paying $8 million a year for two more years is an awful lot for someone to play mentor and watch games from the sidelines.
It’s safe to say that Mayo will not be on the roster when the Bucks make their return to the playoffs at some point. Much like the situation Ersan Ilyasova finds himself in, Mayo needs to start thinking about life after the Bucks and finding a situation where he can still be a productive player. If he can improve his game this year and put up some decent numbers, the Bucks should have no problem finding a team that wants him at the trade deadline.
Mayo still has the talent and potential to be a solid basketball player. It’s just not going to be with the Milwaukee Bucks.