Storyline: OJ Mayo Free Agency

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Mayo’s next move isn’t clear. He’s still with Landmark Sports Agency, but Rob Pelinka, his old agent, is now the Lakers’ GM. He’s interested in playing in China, Spain or Israel this fall, but he hasn’t yet fielded any offers. If nothing concrete materializes, Mayo has an invite to continue his current training program in Minnesota, where Johnson and Gaines will be working with Jimmy Butler. “When you mess up, teams wonder whether they want to put their hands on you,” Mayo said. “I respect that. They can only go by a rap sheet or a résumé. If I get somewhere, I think I can change the perception.”

“I want to go back to what I left [in Milwaukee],” Mayo said. “I was real close with Jason Kidd. That was the best relationship I had with a coach besides [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. If they just give me the chance, I can make it up. I owe them.”

After July 1, 2018, Mayo will be eligible to apply for reinstatement to the NBA. Per league guidelines, both the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association must approve his return, and the two sides can consider a host of factors to weigh that decision, including the circumstances surrounding Mayo’s dismissal, his personal conduct during the ban, his character and morality, whether he has completed a treatment program, and whether he’s a “suitable role model for youth.” Mayo must also be able to “demonstrate by proof of random urine testing” that he has not failed any marijuana or drug tests for a year prior to his reinstatement application.

Once the 2016-17 NBA season started, a “hurt” and “lost” Mayo couldn’t bear to watch, consumed by remorse over the years that had preceded his ban. He had “burned the candle at both ends [until I] ain’t got no candle left.” His “entourage” had grown too big, and he had prioritized “showing love to friends, hanging out, and finding girls” over the gym. He acknowledged smoking marijuana and abusing a prescription pain medication that triggered his two-year ban because it is on the NBA’s “drugs of abuse” list. (He emphatically denied testing positive for hard drugs like cocaine.)

“[Thinking I’m crazy] is an easy perspective for someone to have given the way I was living,” Mayo said. “I’m not ignorant. Somebody could easily fix their mind to say something like that because of my résumé. I don’t have a media rep or PR company making sure that everything is good, and I don’t go to social media with my problems. “But that ain’t me. I’m far from crazy. I’ve made some crazy a– decisions, but I’m not crazy. I’m good with myself. I’m comfortable with my body. I dug myself a hole, but it’s not a coffin. I can still get out.”
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June 23, 2018 | 4:44 pm EDT Update
Orlando Sentinel: From what you’ve seen of Mohamed Bamba already, what can he ultimately accomplish? What’s his ceiling? Steve Clifford: Oh, he has a tremendous upside. The NBA now is so much about two-way players, versatility and positional size. And he has all of those things. When you start watching him, this stands out right away: his size, length and agility. The rebounding part, the blocked-shot part — those are the things that strike you right away. But he also, to me, has a very good feel and instincts for the game naturally. He can read the defense. He can anticipate off the ball. I see someone who sees the game, and in this league, it’s hard to win if you can’t play a smart game. He’s going to play an intelligent, smart game, which in this league is paramount.
OS: You went out to San Jose to see Aaron Gordon. You could’ve just called him up on the phone. Why go out there? And how did that go? Steve Clifford: It was very good for me because I got to see him work out. When I first got here the first day, the three of us sat down — Jeff, John and I — and they gave me a good evaluation on all the players, where they’re at. So it was a great starting point for me. And they had told me what a great worker Aaron was. So when I went out there I watched him work out in the weight room and then also on the floor. And then we had a good chance to talk, too. So it was good. Obviously, there’s a big difference between talking to someone on the phone and meeting them face-to-face. In order to build the right type of player-coach relationship, which is so critical in this league, I just feel like the face-to-face part is much more beneficial.
Royce White: Here is a snapshot of my journey. In 2012 I was drafted by the Houston Rockets. I came into the NBA with COMPLETE DISCLOSURE of my pre-existing diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Despite the editorial intro that has so commonly been the synopsis of my story, my inability to manage anxiety WAS NOT the cause of my “career derailment.” My choice to live transparently, collaboratively and safely was. As my first season in the NBA approached, Houston and I began to discuss how to foster a supportive environment.
Royce White: My motivation was to connect some dots on the psychological psuedo-science I was presented with in my pre-draft process. During the discussions with Houston, my management team and I were shocked to discover there were NO FORMAL MENTAL HEALTH POLICIES. In response, I attempted to formalize a written agreement that would modify existing policies to encompass mental health. The proposal we suggested included ALL TEAM PERSONNEL, not just PLAYERS. That proposal was tacitly denied. It was during this time that birth was given to a narrative behind the scenes that I was simply ”AWOL” and non-compliant. This was mostly the work of Daryl Morey and maybe others that I am not aware of. That narrative was untrue and drove me to Twitter and other media outlets to exonerate myself.
Storyline: Rockets Front Office
Royce White: This season the world saw three very good NBA players (Kevin Love, Demar Derozan & Kelly Oubre) make global headlines. These men BRAVELY disclosed their own mental health struggles with the public. However, they were not the first and MORE IMPORTANTLY they won’t be the last. Recent studies have shown that athletes may be even more predisposed to mental health struggles than other citizens. …. The most notable case of a completely PROACTIVE approach in the NBA may certainly be my own. Sadly when I challenged policy and advocated for my own health, people within my own support system feared the peripheral effects of my public castigation. They worried many players wouldn’t discuss their plights going forward due to the condemnation that was crystallizing around my story. Although I didn’t want to believe it, they were somewhat right. Over the past 5-6 years I’ve been contacted by hundreds of players that have expressed many of their various mental health afflictions. Unfortunately many of them have also expressed an apprehension to share those afflictions with their team or the public.