Mario Mendoza was a good-field/no-hit shortstop in the 1970's who George Brett used as the symbol of offensive incompetence. Brett mentioned it to ESPN's Chris Berman and it took off: "The Mendoza Line'' was originally all about the point at which the newspaper would cease listing players' batting average – at a lousy .200. …
Or right about where Mendoza usually seemed to end up.
You didn't want to be at or below "The Mendoza Line.'' (In 1981, Mendoza played for the Texas Rangers and was batting .118 when he was released.)
And now DB.com has learned at what point the Dallas Mavericks' endless search for the two-way/create-his-own/star-quality 2-guard reaches its depth.
"The Mayo Line.''
No, the Mavs don't call it any such thing. It's our job to make up silly nicknames for stuff. It's their job to scout players who are on the block as the Feb. 24 trade deadline approaches and to determine who on that list can be "that guy.''
O.J. Mayo, the Mavs have determined, cannot be "that guy.''
If somebody loves Mayo, he can probably be gotten at 80 cents on the dollar. Not long ago, Mayo was a No. 3 overall pick, a Rookie of the Year runner-up and a blue-chip prospect who was a full-time starter in each of his first two NBA seasons.
Suddenly, he's …
*Serving a 10-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance, DHEA, which he claims came from having guzzled an energy drink while stopped at a filling station. (A claim that is severely lacking in credibility.)
*No longer a starter, anyway, having been demoted from the first team.
*Central in a team-fight controversy stemming from a card game on the Grizzlies flight, causing coach Lionel Hollins to ban card games. And, I assume, team fights.
*Is experiencing his worst-ever statistical season, with lows in rebounds, assists, field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage, 3-point percentage, blocks, steals and – most importantly if you are billed as a two-way/create-his-own/star-quality 2-guard – points.
Memphis is finding it difficult to "sell-high'' a player who is scoring 12 points per game.
The Grizzlies have a crowd of capable bodies at Mayo's position, but they are only capable. The Grizzlies have Mayo under contract next year at $5.6 mil. And the 6-4, 210-pounder is just 23. There are reasons for Memphis to sit on this …
And there are reasons for Dallas to sit this one out.
We are told that the Mavs do not view Mayo as "star-quality'' – and this evaluation comes regardless of his problems with Slurpees and Old Maid. He is the style of player that tops Dallas' wish list, and he plays the right position.
But he represents "The Mayo Line'' – the line of demarcation that Dallas will not approach when it comes to paying a premium price for a "star,'' the cellar that the Mavs will not bother spending assets to climb the stairs down towards.
‘MELO'S MIND: We have written this a few times: What Carmelo Anthony wants to do, and where and when he wants to do it, changes depends on which member of his entourage answers the phone.
‘Melo himself is now answering the phone, and guess what?
He is now saying that he'll consider signing a contract extension with the Nuggets.
Anthony said he would "take a real hard look" at signing a three-year, $65 million extension with the Nuggets if he isn't dealt by the NBA's Feb. 24 deadline, according to the Denver Post.
We've written this before, too, but we will reiterate it as well: The smartest people in the NBA (or at least the smartest we talk to) have always been astounded at ‘Melo's unwillingness to re-up in Denver. Denver is not NY … but the Nuggets are a contending team and that $65-mil payday, signed before the coming labor strife, gives him money he may not necessarily see again.
And while we are patting ourselves on the back: We educated-guessed that ‘Melo-to-the-Lakers was some sort of ploy/joke, and now even Anthony himself agrees.
"I've never heard of that,'' he said. "That was a new one," he said. "Every day is something different. I guess now is the Lakers."
Of course, "every day is something different'' in large part because the ‘Melo camp is offering up different answers every day. The only thing known for certain about Anthony now is that he'll be in Denver tonight … and that the Mavs will be there with him. We'll have all-day/all-night/and all-day-again coverage of it all on DB.com.
HEY, Houston, UP HERE!: The Houston Chronicle is noting that the Rockets are in active pursuit of a starting center.
Which, of course, DB.com Mavs Premium readers knew all about two months ago, when we first told you about Houston's scouting of Brendan Haywood occurring right along with Dallas' expressing an interest in Kevin Martin.
Last time we checked, these teams remain two ships passing in the night on this concept. (Meaning, they haven't specifically exchanged notes on each others' guys.) But we continue to tout it as a worthwhile concept (at least the Big Wood-to-Houston part, anyway) because we're not sure Haywood is as laughable an option as so many think.
To wit, our Michael Dugat checks out the Chronicle's list of Rockets center targets and the paper's comments on each player (in bold), and follows up with our evaluations:
Samuel Dalembert - Second season with Kings. Has expensive, expiring contract, but is a strong defensive center.
Samuel Dalembert was once one of the notoriously bad contracts the Philadelphia 76ers were trying to discard. Time has passed, and the jersey has changed, and what was once an albatross of a contract -- $12,200,000 -- is now reasonably attractive as it expires after this season.
If you are looking for a solid defensive presence in the middle with a reputation for the occasional uninspired play, Dalembert fits your desires perfectly. On most nights, he is not on offensive presence via a strong post-up game, not the fact that he has only reached double digits in scoring eight times in 47 chances this season, though he can make an impact on the offensive boards.
One possible concern beyond his lack of consistency from play-to-play is the fact that the Kings are the second team in the recent past to name him the preseason favorite to claim the starting center role only to grow frustrated with his production in that role.
His stat line: 5.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 20.6 minutes, 13.1 PER. Hardly stout enough to make the idea of Big Wood (3.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and one block per) embarrassing.
Marcus Camby -- Expensive, but Houston resident would be ideal fit.
For a team a center away from contending in the immediate future, there may be no better fit than the 36-year-old Marcus Camby. He remains an impact on the interior of a defense as well as on the glass and has the range to step outside and drain a jumper almost as deep as the three-point line. His stat line: 5.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 28.7 minutes, 16.2 PER.
As has been the case for much of his career, is the fact that Camby is oft-injured. He is nearing a return from knee surgery (no firm timetable has been set, but it has been reported that a return is likely prior to the All-Star break) and has missed 13 games already this season. Over the course of his 14 prior seasons, Camby has only managed to take part in 70 or more games four times. Though, to be fair, three of those instances have come in the past four seasons.
Again, if Camby is the final piece, he may come as an ideal fit. For a team requiring a few years to grow, he likely won't be around long enough to be anything more than a stop-gap solution. He's certainly a more attractive player than Haywood (consider that Camby's two years left are at $8,453,250 and $9,256,500, while Haywood is locked in at $8.5 mil a year for five guaranteed seasons.)
Also there's this: Why would Portland dump him again? Because he's "a Houston resident''?
Chris Kaman -- Seventh season with Clippers. An expensive burden on team building around youth.
Chris Kaman is quickly falling into the category of "what could have been." We've seen All-Star level talent, but all too frequently we're also seeing the perils of an injury plagued career that is never quite allowed to get fully rolling.
For the 2010-11 season, Kaman has played in only 10 of a possible 52 games and continues to sit with a bum left ankle that most thought would allow him back to the court in early January. He may be close to a return, and it's possible the Clippers have been careful to keep him from the court for fear of wrecking any trade value he may retain, but the past remains.
When healthy, Kaman is easily the most all-around potent offensive option on this list. He has a decent jumper and can back his defender into the paint where he has the ability to finish. But Dirk's German brother doesn't have the right numbers in either category.
His stats: 10.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 26.5 minutes, 11 PER
His dollars; $11,300,000; $12,200,000)
Omer Asik -- Second season with Bulls. Young talent with room to grow on contender's bench.
Omer Asik has shown signs of promise for a contending Bulls team. With the impending return of Joakim Noah and their glaring need at shooting guard, he may become the most valuable chip Chicago is willing to part with.
At 7-foot and only 24 years old, Asik has the size and tools most team desire from the center position. He likely won't be ready to start for a contender in the immediate future, hence his possible availability from the Bulls, but would be a project worth investing in for teams with the time to do so.
But Houston isn't make noise about trying to acquire a "project.'' Asik is cheap ($1,721,000; $1,857,500) and not yet exactly productive (2.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 0.7 blocks, 11.4 minutes, 11.4 PER). Is that Morey's goal?
DeAndre Jordan -- Third season with Clippers. Former Aggie, but he would be tough to get out of L.A.
Considering the affordable nature of his contract, particularly in comparison with Chris Kaman, and the young core surrounding him with the Clippers in Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin, you would have to believe DeAndre Jordan would be on the list of "keepers" for Los Angeles.
He has supreme athletic ability to go with good size. If he is made available you may be able to surmise one of a few options are in play. One, the attitude has been rumored to carry is no longer deemed worth the hassle for the Clippers. Two, there are no possible takers for Kaman, and if he is not going to be moved the team has decided not to risk trying to resign Jordan this summer with money they may not have. Three, they truly believe in Kaman to the level that they no longer see a need to keeping Jordan.
With two viable centers, when healthy, it will be interesting to see how this one plays out. But there is little logic to LAC giving away a kid with attractive numbers in every way (salary: $854,389 … stats: 7 points, 7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 25.7 minutes, 14.5 PER).
We know that at Mavs HQ, most deep-thinkers still believe Haywood will be a useful weapon come playoff time. Meanwhile, we know the fan base and media in Houston won't find the idea of Brendan Haywood as sexy as some of the aforementioned five names. But we still believe that a team in search of a starting center can be expected to expand its search list to, let's say, six names.