Move over Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose. Ovinton J'Anthony Mayo has requested a table for three.
Judging by Heat president Pat Riley's resent itinerary and guard Dwyane Wade's Sunday semi-endorsement, there is growing evidence and confirmation now that this is at least a three horse race for Miami's No. 2 pick in the June 26 NBA Draft.
The first stop on Riley's tour of draft workouts was in Chicago to visit Mayo this weekend before heading West. Wade has long suggested that the Heat's biggest need was for a playmaking guard he could partner with in the backcourt to return the team to a contending level. For months, Wade's preference in the draft was for University of Memphis point guard Derrick Rose. And it still might be.
But Wade is at least bracing for the reality that Rose is likely headed to Chicago as the No. 1 pick. Still, this very well could be a two-horse race. Only the participants have changed. Now, the Rose-Beasley debate might quickly become the Beasley-Mayo decision.
Mayo and Wade have established a bond while working out together in Chicago with trainer Tim Grover. Two weeks ago, Mayo said he "was like a little reporter" following Wade around everywhere and asking questions.
On Sunday, Wade said he's been just as impressed with Mayo's humility as he has with the skill set of the Southern Cal guard.
"I've got an opportunity to see O.J. and go to lunch and dinner with him, because that's what we do in Chicago, because we're like family," Wade said. "He's a good kid. He's shocked me. He's been getting hype since the 6th grade. So I'm thinking he's going to have the big head and have a big posse with him. But he doesn't roll like that. And I like to see that."
Wade said he's already talked with Riley about the draft, but stopped short of suggesting that he's officially endorsing Mayo over Beasley if Rose is not in play. But Wade did say of Mayo, "I have gotten an opportunity to know him, and that's a perk."
But the point in all of this might very well hinge on The Point, as in point guard. It's obvious Mayo can score. It's just as obvious he's a solid defender. It's a no-brainer he can sell tickets. And it's without question that he's rubbing off well on Wade, who must be kept happy as he approaches the opt-out date in his contract after two more seasons.
But the question is whether Mayo can run an NBA team as a pass-first playmaker? And if so, is he still worth passing over or parting with the one player in this draft everyone believes could post a double-double by halftime of his first NBA game? Passing on Beasley won't be an easy decision.
"You have to look at your team, what you really need," Wade said of the Heat, which also desperately could use a low-post scorer and dominant rebounder. "I think the reason (Mayo has) crept up in it is he's a combination of a lot of different things, and he can help your program right away. So, I think it's a three-man race. And you're talking about Rose, Beasley and O.J."
What Wade wants and what the Heat needs might be two different things if Rose is off the board.
"Of course, the Bulls have the No. 1 pick," Wade said. "But we can't go wrong."