O.J. Mayo signs with Dallas, Courtney Lee the next option?


Even before New Orleans officially matched the Suns’ offer sheet to Eric Gordon, the Suns set their sights on O.J. Mayo by bringing the free-agent shooting guard in for a visit on Friday.

Now it’s time to go to a Plan C after both Mayo himself and Mavs owner Mark Cuban tweeted that the former Grizzly has become a Maverick. ESPNDallas’s Jeff Caplan corroborated those tweets by reporting that Mayo and the Mavs have agreed on a multi-year deal, citing a source with knowledge of the negotiations.

I have not spent much time analyzing Dallas’ cap situation, but Caplan reported the Mavs had $4 mil of cap space to offer. Even if this ends up being a sign-and-trade with Memphis to get Mayo more money, this move is surprising considering Dallas’ widely known desire to sign one-year deals to keep their books as clear as possible for another run at a superstar free agent next summer.

Gambo had reported that Mayo wanted at least $8 million from the Suns so it certainly feels like this must be more than a straight signing into cap space if Caplan’s figures are correct. The Suns were very wise to pass on Mayo at that $8 mil price as I have been worried about a deal for him clogging the Suns’ cap with no true star players.

With Mayo off the board, I assume the Suns will be spending some time Tuesday speaking with Courtney Lee’s agent. Although the Suns would become Houston Rockets West with such a signing, Lee is the best young shooting guard available by far.

The 26-year-old is known as a quality defender and he has hit 40 percent of his treys in three of his four NBA seasons.

Obviously Lee is more role player than star, but he would be a real nice fit for this Suns team if the contract numbers are right, especially since he is already used to playing with the team’s new point guard and power forward.

It’s kind of funny that Lee is the Suns’ best option at this point because the Rockets renounced his restricted rights largely to free up as much cap space as possible for a major move but also because they drafted shooting guard Jeremy Lamb. If Houston had not moved one spot ahead of the Suns to take Lamb, perhaps he would be providing wing depth for Phoenix and the Suns would have no need for Lee.

As things stand now, the Suns only have one natural wing on their roster in Jared Dudley. Surely Michael Beasley will be a small forward on this team considering the team’s glut of power forwards, but they really need to sign at least one and probably two wings to round out the roster.

By my math, the Suns have about $44.5 million in committed salaries and thus another $13.5 million left to spend on the free agent market after the Scola/Childress swap. Now this number could be a bit off depending on whether Scola’s contract will start at $4.1 million and whether Dragic and Beasley start where I project them to, but in any case the Suns have a nice helping of change left to spend.

The past few days, I have been a proponent of front loading a deal for a shooting guard to preserve future cap space, but after reading up on Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ I realized this isn’t really possible to a degree that would make it useful. The Suns could offer the same 4.5 percent decrease that they can offer as an increase to their other free agents, but even then starting Lee at say $9 million would result in paying him $8.6 million a season over three years, which means that the high first-year salary would only lead to slightly lower but still way too high second- and third-year salaries.

You may remember that crazy Nick Collison deal from a few years back in which OKC frontloaded his extension to save future cap space, but not only was that done under the old CBA it was also an extension for a player already on the roster and it was done in the form of a signing bonus involving room the Thunder had to spare under the cap. I do not believe the Suns could do a deal like that in unrestricted free agency, but in any case it seems extremely unlikely that it would actually happen.

In an ideal world I would like the Suns to keep as much of that approximately $13.5 mil of cap space dry for next summer when combined with Hakim Warrick’s team option that will be declined and Bassy Telfair’s expiring deal, they can once again be major players on the open market.

Since they so desperately need a wing who can play major minutes this season it makes tons of sense to offer Lee more money than anybody else will pay on a one-year deal (like $8 or 9 mil) and then try to get Lopez to sign for the qualifying offer of $4 mil. Then the Suns could sign another wing like Michael Redd for the $2.575 room mid-level exception.

Or if Lopez finds a better offer, perhaps pay another wing his aforementioned salary slot and find a backup center for the room mid-level.

If Lee is Plan C for the Suns, then apparently Shannon Brown is Plan D, as it has been reported that the team is still talking to him. I prefer Redd to Brown and I vastly prefer Lee to either if that’s the choice, but if the Suns do go for Redd or Brown it’s essential they only sign them for only one year (Brown wants a multi-year deal).

The Suns are almost too deep at power forward and point guard, fine at center with Marcin Gortat likely to play heavy minutes and Channing Frye lurking as a backup even if Lopez doesn’t return but terribly thin at the wings.

It’s obvious where the Suns must spend their remaining free-agent dollars, so now we will see whether they can reach common ground with Lee or circle back around to their former wings, Brown and Redd.

As much as I prefer Lee, it does not make sense to tie up too many future assets on him if he won’t take a one-year deal.

How Lee played with his former Rockets teammates

According to the NBA’s stats tool, the Rockets outscored opponents by 3.0 points per 100 possessions with both Scola and Lee on the floor compared to 0.6 with Scola but no Lee. Similarly, the Rockets with Dragic and Lee outscored the opposition by 2.9 per 100 (including a solid 101.8 defensive rating) and were 0.9 per 100 better with just Dragic but no Lee. Overall the Rockets outscored opponents by 0.6 points per 100 on the season.

Both Scola (46.5 percent compared to 51.4) and Dragic (44.9 percent compared to 49.2) shot much worse with Lee on the floor than when he sat, which is strange since he is a floor-spacing three-point shooter.

Tags: Courtney Lee O.J. Mayo

  • Zack B.

    If you don’t know much of T-Will, don’t be so quick to judge based on his Resume! At LEAST watch the videos on that Facebook page to get a better idea of what we’re dealing with.

  • Greg

    @ Zach B, i got my statements from FACT. lol check his stats, he has played 20 mins a game with 3 different teams, for 80 games, 20 games, and 12 games. Stats dont lie. and 25 is not considered that young in the NBA for potential purposes. His potential is role player off the bench, or could start on a really bad team. he is a versatile point forward that averages nearly 2 turnovers per 20 mins (his career average in minutes, which you claim ‘not even”), thats bad. and he has shot 40%. also. bad.

  • Zack B.

    Okay some valid points have been made, Greg. Marshall and Dudley aren’t even close to the value of a Tyreke Evans and Terrence Williams that play to their potential. I like Dudley, but he’s not the type of player that can just take over a game. Marshall could have a bright future, as he is already an NBA-ready passer. But if we could have that deal, I’d take it in a heartbeat. Btw, Evans doesn’t play PG anymore, he’s been logging most of his minutes at SG and SF since the arrival of Jimmer and Isaiah Thomas. And take into account that Rubio had years of experience and preparation overseas before coming to the league.

  • Greg

    lol watch videos? what his highlights? you can take any NBA scrub thats been in the league 3 or 4 years and put together a highlight tape. if you are such a knowledgble kings fan why are you on the suns message board?

  • FAR

    Why you guys want that much t-will If BRANDON RUSH have the best number for SG and the Laker want him a lot hi is 6.6 Tall 225 Lbs and blocks shots a lot for a SG.

    http://www.nba.com/playerfile/brandon_rush/career_stats.html

  • Zack B.

    Yes, he’s rough around the edges, but I rather a player with edges you can smooth out, then none at all. His turnover rate is the main knock on him. True, but a 20 and 12 game season means nothing to me, it is surely hard to be thrusted into a team’s rotation in the middle of the season. His rookie year was decent, and he got to show what he can do a little more. His potential is more than a role player or player that will start on a bad team, I disagree. His career average in minutes is dominated by his time with New Jersey, stats lie by omission.

  • Greg

    I am not saying Marshall is going to be dynamite right away, itll take time. I agree that Evans played less PG this year but what about the other two years? I agree Tyreke Evans is a potential that cant be missed, but he isnt a good fit for the suns. he cant shoot, he plays iso ball, and he isnt a good defender because his effort lacks on that end big time. and just to put an end to the t-will arguement from my standpoint, i was trying to be nice and agree, but he isnt good and will never amount to anything more then a 10 ppg 4 rebound 3 assist type guy. average at best.

  • Zack B.

    Lmao, dude I’m a diehard Suns, Knicks, and Grizzlies fan, but I am a basketball fan above all. I watch all teams, but focus on mine. Not just highlights, interviews, his Youtube series: Poor, Hungry, Driven. I’m just saying bro, learn more about em.

  • Greg

    he played 22 mins per game in new jersey….and 18 games @ 20 mins with the kings is a justifiable sample. look at jeremy lin and goran dragic? they turn 1 or 2 months into big time money. His last month of the season was good i will give you that, 9 points 4 rebounds 3 assist in 21 mins….nothing to write home about

  • Greg

    lmao you cant be a diehard fan of 3 teams. thats not a defintion of “die-hard”

  • Zack B.

    Yeah Marshall will be a project. Evans can change though, this is what you’re missing. Players change and develop, the same way we’re hoping Beasley has! Wow, that’s a pretty stern statement about T-Will, it’s your opinion, but either of us could be right. I’m sure we will both be on this website throughout the season, so I’ll keep you updated on his progress, wherever he goes.

  • Zack B.

    Why’s that? I represent all three of them equally, have been with them during horrible seasons and great seasons, and won’t ever change my teams…maybe you have a different definition of die-hard.

  • JDUB

    I say we trade Robin Lopez for in that 3 way deal with POR/MINN and get back Wes Johnson. We need a shooter and he can shine on our team and is still young

    Dragic / Marshall
    Brown / Johnson
    Beasley / Dudley
    Scola / Morris
    Gortat / Frye

  • Zack B.

    That’s an amazing idea @JDub…Frye would play backup C and we would get an athletic guy that can defend and shoot. I endorse that move 100%.

  • frenchysunsfan

    Lee would be a good addition. He’s a defensive-minded player and also a great 3s shooter. Moreover he would be much cheaper than Mayo or Gordon.
    Now I just hope that a team will make a big offer for Lopez and the Suns won’t match it, Frye could be a very good center back-up, just like he did in 2009-2010 when he played alongside with Stoudemire and it was his best year.
    Re-signing Redd would also be a good move if Gomes does not come with Hill’s sign and trade.
    Concerning Brown, he played much better at the end of the season, he did not make the Suns win many games, but we must remember that last year’s training camp was very short and he may need a bit more time.

  • http://Yahoo.com Edward

    WE DO NOT WANT SHANNON BROWN FOR 1 WEEK. NOT EVEN A TEN DAY CONTRACT.
    Shannon Brown is not good. I’d rather Barbosa come back. I’d rather Redd come back. I’d rather we sign some guy off a summer league squad. I’d rather Mark Price at 67 years of age. Anybody but Brown.

  • http://Yahoo.com Edward

    I say we trade Robin Lopez for in that 3 way deal with POR/MINN and get back Wes Johnson. We need a shooter and he can shine on our team and is still young
    Dragic / Marshall
    Brown / Johnson
    Beasley / Dudley
    Scola / Morris
    Gortat / Frye

    Read more: http://valleyofthesuns.com/2012/07/16/o-j-mayo-signs-dallas-wing-options-thinning/#ixzz20v09AXPb

  • http://Yahoo.com Edward

    44ShockTop // Today at 8:12 am (6 hours ago)

    We have ten players on the team right now.
    Starters:
    Dragic 1
    Dudley 2
    Beasley 3
    Scola 4
    Gortat 5

    Bench:
    Frye 4/5
    Morris 4/5
    Marshall 1
    Telfair 1
    Warrick 3/4

    We need a 5 and a 2 to get fouls and shoot 3s off the bench, respectively. Sounds like Lopez will want too much money for what we need him for (about 3 fouls and 8 minutes, at most, since Frye, Scola, and Morris can handle the block when Gortat rests for 10-15 minutes per game). Lee wants to be a starter, but I think Dudley can handle that as I foresee him being co-captain with Gortat. Brown wants more than one year, and if Redd does, too, then save the money for a potential Eric Gordon trade in January or add someone that gets released at the trade deadline.
    I’d prefer two D-leaguers to fill out the 12-man roster.

    Read more: http://valleyofthesuns.com/2012/07/16/o-j-mayo-signs-dallas-wing-options-thinning/#ixzz20v1OPDUH

  • cha cha cha

    if they get Lee, they should start him at sg, with Dudley at sf; Beasley should be the prototypical 6th man/top scorer off the bench, a la Harden (or the Barbosa of old). otherwise, bench scoring will be anemic.

  • Zack B.

    No way in the world Beasley comes off the bench.

  • cha cha cha

    well, Lee shared backcourt duties with Dragic for most of March and April, so there’s no learning curve for those two getting acclimated to one another. and i’d guess that if Lee’s brought to the Suns to come off the bench, then he’s not going to be a Sun.

  • SUNS NEWS

    BEASLEY STARTS AND LEE STARTS , DUDLEY IS OUR BENCH GUY.

  • Scott

    Actually, if the Suns get Lee, they should have enough defense on the court to allow Beasley to start at SF.

    Dudley could come off the bench at either wing spot.

  • Tim in BC

    Barbossa or Lee since both played well with Dragic. Derozan on the Raptors is a really good player…see him alot up here in Canada.

  • cha cha cha

    so Dudley, who started 60 of his 65 games last season, will be demoted to the bench. and Beasley, who only started 7 of his 47 games last season, becomes a starter?

  • Scott

    Keep in mind, though, that Beasley rates a measly 13 PER, which is substantially below the league average, and in Shannon Brown’s category.

    Dudley’s about a 15.5 PER … a more complete player, and slightly above average.

    As I’ve said before … I’m not convinced yet that the Beasley signing is not a mistake. To me, he’s a bigger and more unstable Brown.

  • Scott

    @cha cha cha -

    If the Suns were to sign Lee, it would make more sense to start Beasley with Gortat and Scola, because Beasley would be the source of a lot of the offense and his defense would be covered.

    In terms of last year, it would be like combining Brown or Redd with Dudley or Childress, in that you’ve got someone who is a volume scorer with no defense being covered for by players who are defensively sound and efficient on offense.

    Moved to the bench, Dudley could help Marshall keep things rolling with his hustle and veteran savvy.

    It’s also probably a good idea to pair a nut like Beasley with more seasoned players as opposed to junior level players. They’ll be able to put him in his place, if needed.

    Beasley … a slightly taller Shannon Brown who was given twice the money and 3x the years. sigh

  • cha cha cha

    i’m comfortable with a Dragic/Dudley/Beasley/Scola/Gortat starting line-up. i think if Lee’s gotta come off the bench, he’d probably rather do so in Boston. in that case, i’d be fine with relatively inexpensive Barbosa as the 6th man. maybe bring in your 2nd favorite Dragic.

  • Jason A.

    Get Lee, sign him to a 1 yr 4.5 mil deal, and let’s do some battle. Lee played well with Dragic and Scola. They weren’t the problem on the rockets last year. I like our team. Go Suns!

  • Jason A.

    @Scott “Beasley … a slightly taller Shannon Brown who was given twice the money and 3x the years. sigh”

    That’s crazy right there. Beasley is WAY more talented than brown. We’ll find out soon enough…

  • Scott

    @Jason A. -

    I hope you’re right. I’m willing to be converted, but prior to the signing I would have thought Beasley would either be a cheap deep reserve somewhere, or overseas.

  • Bill_Thomas

    Here is a link to comments posted on the Dallas Morning News about the Mayo signing. He makes them much more athletic and yet once again, we
    are looking to be behind the athleticism curve in the West. I hope the FO can honestly tell us that we offered him a better deal than Dallas and he still would not sign with us. Otherwise, there is absolutely NO EXCUSE !!!!

  • Bill_Thomas
  • cha cha cha

    “He makes them much more athletic”

    yeah, because their frontcourt includes Elton Brand and Chris Kamen.

  • Joe

    I know he’s restricted, but I’d like the Suns to make a play for Brandon Rush. Golden State has Klay Thompson as well, so maybe we can pry Rush away.

  • Majestic One

    I agree Brandon Rush is the guy to get.

  • Bill_Thomas

    Per the LA Times and corroborated by ESPN, Ryan Gomes was amnestied or waived this evening. So hopefully there is not a snowball’s chance in hell of that
    idiot getting anywhere near this place !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Bill_Thomas

    Agreed, Rush is beast, but I think his 3 pt. shooting is streaky and I’m not sure he has a medium game–but given the chance, he will attack the basket.

  • Bill_Thomas

    @cha cha cha: Again, Mayo is to our disadvantage, maybe our great disadvantage unless we get and equal and opposite offsetting force such as perhaps Rush, or Terrence Williams.

    Yeah, OK, so we are a little ahead of Dallas on athleticism with Kaman/Brand vs. Gortat/Frye/Morris/Scola,
    but not huge difference there.

  • Bill_Thomas

    I think Lopez/Rush is a no brainer for both teams.

  • Bill_Thomas

    Although GS gave up Amundsen to get Rush. Bet we could get Amundsen back easily, maybe even for a second round pick. Or for Warrick. Although I don’t think Warrick is anywhere near as poor a player as this Board seems to feel. He has been very poorly used, despite his obvious problems with defense.

  • Bill_Thomas

    @ cha cha cha: You might need to go back to college and take a course in “Critical Thinking”.

  • Bill_Thomas

    My theory on Kaman/Brand/Cuban is that Cuban is the majority owner of a private company with a hot osteoporosis drug in development, and he needs clinical subjects.

  • Scott

    @Bill -

    I’ll support the idea that Warrick has been poorly used. That’s on thing that makes all of this discussion seem a bit moot. You never know how the players will be used.

    The other thing that makes them moot: we don’t make the player decisions. ;)

  • Bill_Thomas

    Mike Woodson is a damned black bitch !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Greg

    “Beasley … a slightly taller Shannon Brown who was given twice the money and 3x the years. sigh

    lol out of all the post i just reviewed, this one I believe has made us all dumber having read it and we award you no points, may steve nash have mercy on our souls

  • Greg

    Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, somehow convince Grant Hill not to deal with the Clips, sign Earl Boykins for added back-court length, talk Shaq off TNT back into a Suns uniform, and obviously throw a substantial offer and Andray Blatche.

    Earl Boykins, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, Andray Blatche, Shaquille O’neal….Grant Hill off the bench. Now THIS, is how you rebuild a team.

  • http://none Michael

    Why is everyone hatin on Shannon Brown so much? I hope he does come back i prefer Brown starting at the 2 that Dudley…Dudley should come off the bench. Haterz

  • Bill_Thomas

    Sorry about the last comment, I must have been quite out of whack for a bit.

  • Zack B.

    Now we better re-sign SB and get T-Will! Courtney Lee has been traded to the Celtics…