What if the Nets Had Traded Anthony Morrow for O.J. Mayo?


Each of the last two seasons, a swirling trade rumor has been: Anthony Morrow straight up for O.J. Mayo of the Memphis Grizzlies. I imagine what this trade would have meant had it been completed.

The Nets were interested in doing this trade mainly because Mayo’s contract expires this offseason and Morrow’s does not. The Nets were trying to clear up cap space in preparation for their move to Brooklyn. Morrow commands a mid-sized contract that eats up $4 million of the Nets’ cap space. O.J. Mayo is now a restricted free agent.

I think the Nets would have been better with Mayo, rather than Morrow. I also think the Grizzlies would have been a better team with Morrow, rather than Mayo.

Morrow has one NBA-quality skill: shooting. His three point shot is why he plays in the league. He is at best average at defense, passing, rebounding, and dribbling. His presence behind the three point arc forces opposing defenses to keep an extra player outside the paint to closely watch Morrow. In theory, this would allow guards and centers to have space to operate near the basket. However, the Nets did not have a scoring center for much of the season because Brook Lopez was hurt. Therefore, Morrow’s impact on the Nets’ offense was more limited. Also, Morrow was very inconsistent this past season. Even though he had some awesome games where he just couldn’t miss (i.e. 42 points against Minnesota), he lost his touch at the beginning and end of the season. Honestly, the Nets could have reached 22 wins without him.

O.J. Mayo, on the other hand, is good at attacking the basket for lay-ups and dunks. He is much more aggressive than Morrow and can score in a variety of ways. He is an exciting player to watch. However, he is not a particularly efficient scorer as he scored on 40.8% of his shots this past season and committed almost as many turnovers (124) as he did assists (169). If the Nets had him, he probably would’ve been an important contributor on offense and maybe would have scored 15 points a game.

The Grizzlies were eliminated by the L.A. Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. The Clippers are not a particularly good team and they were swept in round 2 by the San Antonio Spurs. With the talented big men they have in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, Memphis needed sharpshooters to spread out the defense and prevent their big men from getting double teamed. Morrow may be the best in the business at shooting threes. O.J. Mayo tends more to try and create his own shot off the dribble. The Grizzlies definitely could have benefited from having a 3 point scorer to spread the court. Also, one of their weaknesses that was exposed when they fell behind in games was the lack of a 3 point scorer to hit shots in bunches.

All in all, I think the Grizzlies definitely should’ve agreed to give up Mayo for Morrow. The Nets would also have benefited from Mayo’s play and the fact that his contract expires this offseason.