Love Traded To Minnesota For O.J. Mayo
By The Associated Press
Minnesota Timberwolves fans went to bed wondering how O.J. Mayo would fit in with their guard-heavy team.
Memphis Grizzlies backers hit the hay hoping that Kevin Love would open things up for Rudy Gay in the frontcourt.
Both groups woke up Friday morning to a totally different reality, thanks to an eight-player blockbuster trade in the wee hours of the night that changed the faces of both teams.
Hours after the draft concluded, the Wolves sent Mayo, forward Antoine Walker and guards Greg Buckner and Marko Jaric to Memphis for Love, shooter Mike Miller and frontcourt retreads Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins.
Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale said he thought the deal was dead early in the night, but the Grizzlies reopened negotiations as the first round came to a close, and Memphis finally relented and included Miller in the transaction.
"Actually no one was more surprised than we were when the deal came back," McHale said. "We were all sitting around there looking at each other saying, 'Wow, I guess it's back on.' There were just too many components in it that fit our needs not to do it."
The deal allows the Timberwolves to dump Walker, who was unhappy riding the bench on a rebuilding team, and Jaric's contract, which has three years and more than $21 million remaining.
Miller also fills a huge hole on the team as a perimeter shooter and gives them Love, a 6-foot-10 power forward who will play down low next to Al Jefferson, who will stay at center in this revamped lineup rather than move to his more natural power forward position.
"This deal really set us up on so many levels," Minnesota GM Jim Stack said. "We couldn't pass it up."
The Grizzlies, in turn, get a dynamic guard in Mayo who was widely thought of as the third-best player in the draft behind Memphis guard Derrick Rose and Kansas State forward Michael Beasley, who went first and second, respectively.
Mayo averaged 20.7 points in his lone season with the Trojans and also dealt with controversy when a former friend alleged that he took money and gifts from an agent while in high school and college.
Mayo denied the allegations and impressed the Timberwolves with the way he handled questions on the topic during a workout in Chicago last weekend.
"We felt it was a chance to take a player who we had ranked as the third best player in the draft," Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace said. "That I think almost all the league felt was third behind Beasley and Rose. And if anybody has the chance to break in and have the type of impact in the NBA that Rose and Beasley seem certain to have, it would be O. J. Mayo."
Timberwolves fans will likely be reminded of another lottery-swapping move two years ago, when Minnesota selected Brandon Roy, then traded him to Portland for Randy Foye and cash.
Roy went on to become rookie of the year in 2006-07 and an All-Star last season, while Foye has struggled with injuries while showing promise as a floor leader and playmaking perimeter threat.
With Foye and Rashad McCants -- two smallish scoring guards -- already on the roster, the Wolves started their evening by drafting the 6-foot-5 Mayo out of USC with the third pick.
Memphis took Love, the fundamentally sound Bruin, with the fifth overall pick.
Despite the apparent similarities between Mayo, Foye and Rashad McCants, assistant GM Fred Hoiberg told hundreds of fans gathered at Target Center for a draft party that he thought Mayo would fit in just fine with the guard-heavy Timberwolves.
"We thought there was a realistic chance Miami would take him at No. 2," Hoiberg said of the Heat, who chose Beasley. "We think that he'll come in and be able to help us out right away."
Hoiberg raved about Mayo's outside shooting and competitive spirit, calling him "a complete player, a complete person" and someone who can "come in and be able to help us out right away."