Bucks Lead

Does OJ Mayo Deserve Second Chance With Bucks?

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The date is July 1st, 2016. Along with teammates Jerryd Bayless and Miles Plumlee, OJ Mayo became a free agent.

The Bucks re-signed Plumlee and let Bayless walk to Philly, but Mayo’s free agency was drastically different.

Milwaukee’s front office quickly learned that they wouldn’t even be allowed to re-sign their veteran guard, who was hit with a two-year league ban due to violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy.

Two years later, “Juice” is now eligible to return to the NBA. Despite this, there has yet to be any reported interest in Mayo’s direction.

This isn’t exactly surprising, as there are plenty of other established guards still on the market (Dwyane Wade, Rodney Hood and Jamal Crawford to name a few).

In an interview with Sports Illustrated last August, Mayo expressed his determination to return to the Bucks organization:

“I want to go back to what I left [in Milwaukee],” Mayo said, when asked for his dream destination. “I was real close with Jason Kidd. That was the best relationship I had with a coach besides [Dwaine Barnes]. I had great relationships with Giannis [Antetokounmpo] and Khris Middleton. I was comfortable there. I felt like I let them down, cheated them for two years. They paid me $8 million to be, in my eyes, a subpar player. They invested millions of dollars for me to be on top of my s—, and when you’re not on top of your s—, it shows. I’ll be 30 next summer. If they just give me the chance, I can make it up. I owe them.”

The Jason Kidd era in Milwaukee is over, but Mayo’s player and ownership relationships appear to be strong. Just this past April, Juice was spotted sitting courtside with Bucks owner Marc Lasry right before the playoffs began.

Right after this appearance, Mayo signed with Atléticos de San Germán of the Baloncesto Superior Nacional, where he averaged 13.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.1 steals per contest. With no new hints/news since his courtside attendance however, it appears unlikely that he returns to Milwaukee, at least for now.

During his three-year tenure in Milwaukee (2013-16), Mayo often took the sixth man role, but had no issues being a starter when called upon. He witnessed the early developments of Giannis and Khris, which explains his tight relationships with the two.

Let’s take a brief look at Juice’s numbers during his three-year contract with the Bucks:

2013-14 (52 games, 23 starts): 11.7 PPG (41% FG, 37% 3Pt, 86% FT), 2.4 RPG, 2.2 APG, 0.5 SPG, 25.9 MPG

2014-15 (71 games, 15 starts): 11.4 PPG (42% FG, 36% 3Pt, 83% FT), 2.6 RPG, 2.8 APG, 0.8 SPG, 23.9 MPG

2015-16 (41 games, 24 starts): 7.8 PPG (37% FG, 32% 3Pt, 78% FT), 2.6 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.2 SPG, 26.6 MPG

His first two seasons with the Bucks were solid, if you’re looking purely at his numbers. He had “conditioning issues” that forced him to miss time during Milwaukee’s infamous 15-win season, and he missed the final month of the 2015-16 season with a fractured ankle due to allegedly “falling down the stairs.”

Now, this may have been said to save face, if there were other reasons for his premature finish to the season. We’ll let you decide.

A Juice reunion, similar to Brandon Jennings‘ return last season, would be an eye-opener. Problem is, there just isn’t room for Mayo in Milwaukee’s rotation right now. Since his departure, the Bucks have added Eric Bledsoe, Matthew Dellavedova, Malcolm Brogdon, Sterling BrownJason Terry, and now, newcomers Pat Connaughton and Donte DiVincenzo to their backcourt. Terry is a free agent, but he has been a nice veteran addition to the Bucks’ bench and has stated multiple times he wants to play his 20th NBA season in Milwaukee.

Let’s hold the Mayo, for now.

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About Eric Peterson

CEO and Content Manager at TLSM and Bucks Lead branch. Currently studying Sport Management at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Twitter: @EricTLSM

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