DALLAS, Texas - Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said his relationship to guard O.J. Mayo is that like a little league coach. Never before, Carlisle said, has he worked as much or as closely with one player as he did with Mayo this season.
On Thursday, Carlisle said just from the time invested element alone makes him want Mayo to return.
"It's a no-brainer," said Carlisle, who just days previously ripped Mayo for a blah performance in the second to last game of the season. "I like O.J. a lot. I love him as a kid."
Mayo wants to as well, provided he gets the right numbers. He said he will opt out of his current contract that would have paid him $4.2 million next season with the Mavs. He wants to come back at a higher number, and more years.
Mavs GM Donnie Nelson will not rule out anything, and other than Chris Kaman why should he?
"There are some gems in there," Nelson said.
Is one of those gems Mayo? Of the many decisions the Mavs face with their load of guys on expiring contracts, none is any more confounding than Mayo.
He is a quality NBA two-guard, but is he the case of a decent player on a medicore team or can he be a good player on a good team? The Memphis Grizzlies thought he could not be the latter so they let him go.
After one season where Mayo turned his game over to Carlisle there are plenty of reasons to think the Mavs can turn this guy into a solid player. But there are just as many reasons to believe this is who he is.
* He is only 25, and durable.
* In 82 games this season, he averaged 35.5 minutes, 15.3 points and shot 45%.
* He can shoot - he made 40% on his 3-point attempts this season.
* Paired with a pass-first point guard, he may thrive as a spot up shooter.
* He is coachable. Those guys don't grow on trees.
* He has not reached his prime.
* He clearly wore down as this season progressed, and he's only 25. You can't wear down at this age.
* He was often a non-factor, or liability, late in close games.
* All of his numbers were down when playing the top teams in the Western Conference.
* He has played five NBA seasons and 383 games - this may be who he is.
WHAT TO DO: You can do a lot worse than O.J. Mayo. He is good. He is only worth bringing back at the right number, which means even in this new NBA where this new CBA will make contracts shorter Mayo is not returning. Bring back him but not at a price that says he needs to be a foundation player.
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