MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks signed free agent guard O.J. Mayo on Saturday, hoping he will add some much-needed offensive punch to a roster that is searching for some after a summer of upheaval.
The Bucks agreed to terms on a three-year, $24 million contract with Mayo last week. But thanks to a series of moves that general manager John Hammond has in the works, the Bucks had to wait until Saturday to make the contract official.
The 25-year-old Mayo averaged 15.3 points for the Dallas Mavericks last season, and he should have no trouble finding shots in this new-look Bucks lineup.
Hammond executed a sign-and-trade deal with the Suns and Clippers that sent J.J. Redick to Los Angeles and volume shooters Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings could soon be following Redick out the door in Milwaukee.
Ellis is reportedly set to join the Mavericks in Mayo’s place and the Bucks have signed restricted free agent point guard Jeff Teague, who played for new coach Larry Drew in Atlanta, to an offer sheet. If the Hawks decline to match the offer, Teague will come to Milwaukee and likely spell the end of Jennings’ run with the Bucks.
Ellis and Jennings were far and away the leaders in scoring and field goal attempts for the Bucks last season, meaning Mayo should get plenty of opportunities to show that he is capable of carrying the scoring load for an entire season.
After spending his first four seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, Mayo hoped to cash in big on the free-agent market last summer. But the money dried up quickly across the league, and he wound up taking a deal with the Mavericks that paid him more than $4 million last season.
He opted out of his two-year deal to test the waters once again, and for a moment it appeared that he could be stuck on the outside looking in for a second straight summer. Mayo’s name was near the top of the list of available shooting guards, a list that also included Redick and Ellis from the Bucks and Kevin Martin from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Mayo was inundated with attention when the market opened on July 1, speaking to the Timberwolves, Clippers, Bucks and several other teams. The Clippers pulled off a sign-and-trade that brought Redick to Los Angeles and the Wolves did the same to land Martin from Houston. With the Bucks getting nowhere in talks to bring Ellis back, Hammond shifted his sights to Mayo.
In Milwaukee, Mayo will immediately become an offensive focal point like he was in the first few months of last season in Dallas while star Dirk Nowitzki sat out with a knee injury.
They added steady veteran point guard Luke Ridnour in a trade with the Timberwolves earlier this week, but still were looking for the kind of player who can get to the basket and score in transition.
Mayo seems to fit that bill. He shot nearly 45 percent from the field, which was the second-highest mark of his career, and showed flashes of potential to be a go-to scorer during the early part of last season while the Mavericks waited for Nowitzki’s return. He averaged 20.9 points and shot 52.9 percent from 3-point range in the first month of last season, including a 40-point game at Houston on Dec. 8.
Mayo shot a career-best 40.7 percent from 3-point range last season for the Mavericks, but his production dipped noticeably as the season wore on.
The Bucks have Ersan Ilyasova in the front court, but there are few offensive threats on the rest of the roster. Larry Sanders emerged as one of the best defensive players in the league last season, but his offensive game is still raw. John Henson showed some promise as a rookie last year, but likely is not ready to assume a major role yet. Carlos Delfino and Zaza Pachulia have also agreed to terms on deals but are role players.
Mavericks pick up Ellis
DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks have made their biggest free agent play in a busy offseason, adding shooting guard Monta Ellis to a backcourt that’s still crowded even after a couple of setbacks.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said in an email Saturday that Ellis has agreed to a contract. It is reportedly a three-year deal valued between $25 million and $30 million.
The deal with Ellis was reached after first-round pick Shane Larkin broke his right ankle in summer league practice Friday. Dallas also reportedly is backing out of a three-year, $9 million deal with Devin Harris because of a toe injury.
Ellis figures to start alongside point guard Jose Calderon, another free agent who signed a four-year, $29 million deal.
The 27-year-old Ellis averaged 19.2 points with Milwaukee last season but had the lowest 3-point shooting percentage among eligible players at 28.7 percent. Calderon had the highest at 46.1 percent.
Ellis began his career with Golden State and was on the team that shocked the 67-win Mavericks in the first round of the 2007 playoffs. He started five of the six games against Dallas but came off the bench in all five games of a second-round loss to Utah.
Ellis didn’t return to the playoffs until last season with the Bucks, who were swept by Miami in the first round. The Warriors traded him to Milwaukee late in the 2011-12 season, and he declined an $11 million option to return to the Bucks.
The Mavericks still have a glaring need at center after Dwight Howard chose Houston and Andrew Bynum went to Cleveland. Dallas figures to sign a center from a dwindling list of alternatives topped by Samuel Dalembert.
Even without Larkin and Harris, who started his career in Dallas as a No. 5 pick nine years ago, the Mavericks will open camp with at least five newcomers at guard after deciding they weren’t happy with the one-year experiment of Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo last season.
The Mavericks added another free agent in Gal Mekel, the second Israeli-born player in the NBA. He played professionally in his home country after a two-season stint at Wichita State that ended in 2008.
Dallas took two guards in last month’s draft. The Mavericks traded down twice and ended up with Larkin, the son of Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin, at No. 18. In another trade for the 43rd pick, they got Ricky Ledo, who sat out his only season at Providence for academic reasons.