All-world high school prospect spends a controversial year in So-Cal before eventually winding up in the Great White North. Didn't the Minnesota Timberwolves enact this scenario once this week already? Nine more days of free-agent negotiations after Monday mean there's a long road to adding shooting guard O.J. Mayo to a roster that now includes Shabazz Muhammad, introduced Friday as the team's first pick in the 2013 draft. Mayo is, however, beyond-much-doubt president of basketball operations Flip Saunders' top external target in free agency, which runs through July 10. He's the most affordable, all-around talent available at a spot the Timberwolves simply must fill, and it's for that reason Saunders met with him face-to-face not long after landing in California on Sunday. With a desperate need for scoring and a team environment that's not putting up with any rubbish, red flags sticking out of the ground occupied by guys like Muhammad and Mayo aren't redirecting Saunders' search. "We're not gonna let any of those players off the hook," Saunders said. "We've got high demands on what we expect of them on the floor and off the floor." Each considered the country's No. 1 prospect coming out of high school, Muhammad and Mayo were cited by the NCAA for receiving improper benefits. But Mayo's acceptance of numerous gifts before and during his one season at Southern California was much more severe than Muhammad's travel expenses procured for recruiting visits. USC vacated all of its 2007-08 victories as a result of Mayo's dealings, and he entered the league with a reputation as a troublemaker. Considered by some a selfish player at UCLA, Muhammad has a fresh start ahead of him to rebut the same rap. In five professional seasons, Mayo hasn't been able to. Drafted and traded by the Timberwolves to Memphis in the deal that landed Kevin Love, Mayo stormed into the league with Grizzlies, averaging 18.5 points per game (still a career high) and finishing second in the NBA's rookie of the year voting.
Wolves appear intrigued by free-agent SG O.J. Mayo
Fox Sports North | Jul 2