This is the dilemma facing Coach Lionel Hollins following last night’s victory over the Philadelphia 76ers 102-91. With 58.9 seconds remaining in the first half and the Grizzlies in control of the game, Coach Hollins faced the bench and called out a player he wasn’t able to for awhile.
O.J. Mayo hopped up off the bench and entered the game as a substitute following his 10-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
The 11,000 in attendance gave Mayo a standing ovation, you could argue that may have added to Mayo’s nerves as he forgot to take off his warm-up before the referee caught him at half-court.
“I forgot I had two shirts on, it’s been so long,” said Mayo. “I just was excited to get out there, I didn’t expect him to call my name, so when he called it I was just trying to get out there before he changed his mind.”
In the final minute of the first half, Mayo ran the floor a few times before he was found in the corner by the Memphis bench and knocked down a 3-pointer to bring out the loudest reaction at FedEx Forum last night.
Mayo would go on to play another five minutes in the second half and would go scoreless following his three to finish the night. But a lingering question now must be answered as we hit the All-Star break, just what does Coach Hollins plan to do with the addition of Mayo?
His team that is hitting on all cylinders, there is a good flow to the rotation, and they are the third hottest team in the Western Conference since Christmas behind the Lakers and Spurs, and fifth hottest overall during that span. But it would be hard to argue that the Grizzlies can manage a playoff push by starting Sam Young ahead of O.J. and bringing Jason Williams, Xavier Henry, and Greivis Vasquez into the game off the bench before Mayo.
It does need to be noted that Williams entered the game twice before Mayo and at one point Coach Hollins had Vasquez, Williams, Conley, and Mayo all out on the floor with Zach Randolph to complete the five on the court.
With the win last night, the Grizzlies moved to within a half game out of a playoff spot behind the Utah Jazz who are in freefall. One can’t forget the collapse of the Grizzlies last season following All-Star weekend that led to an early summer.
Mayo is poised to make $4.5 million dollars this season, $5.6 million next year, and $7.3 in the final year of his contract.
Between Vasquez and Henry, neither one of them will make more than $4 million before the 2014/15 season
And for Sam Young, who started in front of Mayo last night and has helped carry the team, his contract will remain a six digit figure.
With the trade deadline approaching and slight rumors of the Grizzlies asking around for possible deals for Mayo, owner Michael Heisley and Coach Hollins must figure out if it is better to leave the team and rotation as it is, or should they implement Mayo back into the lineup sooner rather than later and have their money well spent.
Brennan Somers is a regular contributor to Memphisport. You can follow him on Twitter @brennansomers. For more live tweets during Grizzlies games follow @memphisport, @douggillon, @cerrito, and @chasingphoto.
Photo by Justin Ford.