Found July 01, 2013 on Fox Sports North:
All-world high school prospect spends a controversial year in So-Cal before eventually winding up in the Great White North. Didn't the Minnesota Timberwolves enact this scenario once this week already? Nine more days of free-agent negotiations after Monday mean there's a long road to adding shooting guard O.J. Mayo to a roster that now includes Shabazz Muhammad, introduced Friday as the team's first pick in the 2013 draft. Mayo is, however, beyond-much-doubt president of basketball operations Flip Saunders' top external target in free agency, which runs through July 10. He's the most affordable, all-around talent available at a spot the Timberwolves simply must fill, and it's for that reason Saunders met with him face-to-face not long after landing in California on Sunday. With a desperate need for scoring and a team environment that's not putting up with any rubbish, red flags sticking out of the ground occupied by guys like Muhammad and Mayo aren't redirecting Saunders' search. "We're not gonna let any of those players off the hook," Saunders said. "We've got high demands on what we expect of them on the floor and off the floor." Each considered the country's No. 1 prospect coming out of high school, Muhammad and Mayo were cited by the NCAA for receiving improper benefits. But Mayo's acceptance of numerous gifts before and during his one season at Southern California was much more severe than Muhammad's travel expenses procured for recruiting visits. USC vacated all of its 2007-08 victories as a result of Mayo's dealings, and he entered the league with a reputation as a troublemaker. Considered by some a selfish player at UCLA, Muhammad has a fresh start ahead of him to rebut the same rap. In five professional seasons, Mayo hasn't been able to. Drafted and traded by the Timberwolves to Memphis in the deal that landed Kevin Love, Mayo stormed into the league with Grizzlies, averaging 18.5 points per game (still a career high) and finishing second in the NBA's rookie of the year voting. But two seasons later, an in-flight fight with teammate Tony Allen and a 10-game suspension for testing positive for a banned steroid knocked his popularity back down several notches. Things didn't get much better in Dallas this past season, where Mayo repeatedly clashed with coach Rick Carlisle. But he did start all 82 games for the Mavericks, scored 15.5 points per game and hit 40.7 percent of his 3-pointers -- the most glaring trait Saunders is focused on in potential two-guards. Minnesota has roughly 7 million to spend on a shooting guard, which would be a substantial raise for Mayo, who made about 4 million last year. But the Timberwolves appear in a battle with the Los Angeles Clippers for Mayo's services -- newly hired coach Doc Rivers called him Sunday night, according to media reports -- and other teams could certainly present him an enticing offer in the coming days. Saunders also has to decide whether Mayo's baggage is worth his upside. The former Minnesota coach said Friday the franchise's front-office, coaching and locker room leadership tiers should prevent any acquisition from having a negative impact. But that was in reference to Muhammad, a rookie with some dues to pay. Should the Timberwolves fail to work an agreement involving Mayo, there are other unrestricted free-agent avenues available. J.J. Redick, who finished the 2012-13 season in Milwaukee, possesses that 3-point shooting stroke Minnesota covets. His reported asking price is in the 10 million range annually, and he's primarily been an off-the-bench guy, but Redick's 39 percent outside clip for his career may be too attractive to pass up. The Clippers have interest in both Mayo and Redick and are reportedly discussing sign-and-trade deals involving both, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. To acquire either, Minnesota may have to work up a similar scenario and give up a piece or two. Kevin Martin is also a hot commodity and received a call from Saunders the second the free-agency negotiation period began at 11:01 p.m. Sunday, Stein reported. The nine-year pro can shoot from outside, too, though his career appears to be on the downturn. Several teams, including incumbent location Oklahoma City, reportedly have shown interest in Martin, who made 12.4 million last season. His history playing under Rick Adelman's system for two-plus years in Houston renders Minneapolis an attractive destination. That's where unrestricted free agent Chase Budinger spent his first three years in the league before reuniting with Adelman. Timberwolves director of basketball administration Rob Babcock stopped by Budinger's San Diego home on Sunday after the negotiation period opened, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. A high Minnesota priority that's become popular among several shopping teams early in free agency, Budinger's a small forward. But retaining him at that position ensures the Timberwolves can focus their efforts on bringing in a two-guard, especially if unrestricted free-agent forward Andrei Kirilenko signs a contract somewhere else. The 32-year-old Russian opted out of the final year of his contract with Minnesota, but that doesn't mean he's closed off to returning, as long as he can land a longer-term deal. "Here, I was really happy with everything," Kirilenko told Sport-Express, a Russian newspaper. "Everything except for the term of the contract." Kirilenko stood to earn 10 million next year; while he may be open to returning, it's likely the Timberwolves will use that money to retain Budinger, restricted free-agent center Nikola Pekovic and bring in a premier shooting guard. Accomplishing the latter could also come via a trade. Guards J.J. Barea and Luke Ridnour -- both of whom are slotted to make a little more than 4 million next season -- are on Minnesota's trading block, according to multiple reports. Minnesota and the league's 29 other teams have until July 10 to agree to terms with free agents, who can sign contracts once the NBA releases its salary cap that day. That figure is projected at 58.5 million. Follow Phil Ervin on Twitter

Report: Bucks Nearing Deal To Sign O.J. Mayo

The Milwaukee Bucks are close to losing one gunning two guard, and replacing him with another one who is less efficient at putting the ball in the basket. Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Bucks are close to finalizing a deal with free agent guard O.J. Mayo. Y! Sources: Free agent guard O.J. Mayo closing in on a multi-year agreement with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Report: Mayo, Bucks close on deal

The Bucks aren't done reshaping their roster. One day after including J.J. Redick in a three-team trade, Milwaukee is close to agreeing to a multiyear deal with swingman O.J. Mayo, according to Yahoo! Sports. Mayo, a five-year veteran, played with the Mavericks last season, averaging 15.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists. Mayo would fill the vacancy left by Redick and the...

Mavs Do Not Extend Qualifying Offer To Darren Collison Making Him An Unrestricted Free Agent

The Mavericks declined to extend a qualifying offer to point guard Darren Collison, making him an unrestricted free agent. Collison averaged 12.0 points and 5.1 assists in 81 games with the Mavs, 47 of them starts. Collison lost the starting spot in December to Derek Fisher and Mike James. On Saturday, Collison tweeted out his readiness to prove himself to his future team. Excited...

Dirk Nowitzki Says He’s ‘Close’ To Hating The Heat

Dallas Mavericks star forward Dirk Nowitzki say’s he one of the most easy-going guys you’ll ever meet, and that he rarely ever hates anything in life. During an interview on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s “Fitzsimmons and Durrett,” Nowitzki admitted he was close to hating the Miami Heat. “In life, I don’t really hate much,” Nowitzki said Friday on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM...

O.J. Mayo Moving Closer To Deal With Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks are moving closer to a deal with O.J. Mayo. Mayo spent last season with the Dallas Mavericks. Mayo would presumably replace free agent Monta Ellis.

Larkin wants to play with Howard - in Dallas

Shane Larkin wants to lead the public relations campaign to bring free agent center Dwight Howard to the Dallas Mavericks. The Miami point guard said Monday he hasn't quite figured out the sales pitch. He just knows this: He'd love to run the pick and roll with one of his favorite players growing up in Orlando as the son of Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin. There'...

Source: Mavericks contact free agent Monta Ellis

The Dallas Mavericks have contacted point guard Monta Ellis during the first day of free agency Monday according to sources. Ellis, 27, signed a six-year, 66 million contact with the Golden State Warriors in 2008 and was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks last season where he averaged 19.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and six assists last season. Ellis opted out of the final year his six-year...

Magic pursuing Brandan Wright?

The Magic are reportedly in the running to sign Mavericks forward Brandan Wright, according to Tim McMahon of ESPN Dallas. McMahon reports the Mavericks hope to retain Wright, but the Hawks, Pistons, Raptors and Knicks have also expressed interest in the former eighth overall pick. Wright has bounced around several teams, but has found some footing with the Mavericks. He averaged...

Clippers, Mavericks Discussing Bledsoe For Mayo Trade

The Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks are engaged in trade talks centered around Eric Bledsoe and O.J. Mayo. Mayo is an unrestricted free agent, while Bledsoe is one season away from becoming a restricted free agent. Doc Rivers has repeatedly been interested in Mayo. The Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic have also been interested in trading for Bledsoe. The Mavericks are...

Andrew Bynum Receives Interest From Mavericks, Several Other Teams

The Dallas Mavericks were one of several teams to contact the agent for Andrew Bynum during the opening hours of free agency. Bynum is expected to be healthy for the start of training camp, but any team that signs him will want to do their own thorough medical evaluation. Bynum missed the entire 12-13 NBA season following a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Can the Mavericks, Ellis make a deal to work for both sides?

DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks have contacted free-agent guard Monta Ellis during the first day of NBA free agency, a source told FOX Sports Southwest and on Monday.Ellis, who averaged 19.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and six assists last season with the Bucks, opted out of the final year of his contract and forfeited a guaranteed 11 million a gamble that seems ill...

Source: Bynum an 'imperfect Plan B' for the Mavericks?

DALLAS -- Ask the Mavs for a definitive backup plan to Dwight Howard and they don't offer definitive answers. But sources on Sunday told and FOXSports exclusively about how Andrew Bynum represents an "imperfect Plan B" and how Dallas' contact with Bynum is focusing on his willingness to include protection from his knee problems via a little...

Can the Mavericks Get Eric Bledsoe and Dwight Howard?

(Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images) As the Mavericks recruiting team (Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson, Rick Carlisle and Dirk Nowitzki) make their way to Los Angeles today to court free agent Dwight Howard, another rumor is stirring in L.A. It appears that the Los Angeles Clippers are interested in working out a sign and trade where [...]The post Can the Mavericks Get Eric Bledsoe and...
NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.