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O.J. Mayo: ‘I’d like to be back here’

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Shooting guard O.J. Mayo, the subject of coach Rick Carlisle’s public wrath after Monday’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, wants to return to Dallas next season.

“Yeah, I’d like to be back here,” Mayo told reporters after Wednesday’s final shootaround of the season.

Mayo, however, said he has yet to consider whether he will exercise the player option for the second season in the contract he signed with the Mavericks last season. Mayo can opt to make a $4.2 million salary from the Mavs next season, or he can decide to test the free agency market for the second consecutive summer, perhaps signing a long-term deal with Dallas.

“I haven’t really sat down and talked to Cuban about it or my agent,” said Mayo, who has averaged 15.4 points and 4.4 assists while playing a team-high 35.6 minutes per game this season. “I think I’ll probably take a week or so off after this season and get together and meet.”

Midway through the season, it appeared that it’d be an easy decision for Mayo to test the market again. He averaged 17.9 points per game while shooting career-best percentages before the All-Star break.

But Mayo’s production has dipped drastically in the second half of the season. He’s averaging only 9.0 points per game on 38.9 percent shooting in eight April games.

Carlisle, who has made Mayo somewhat of a pet project since last summer, sounded like a disappointed parent when he called out Mayo for failing to compete in Monday’s loss. Carlisle called a timeout midway through the fourth quarter specifically to bench Mayo, who had two points and four turnovers in the loss.

Mayo claimed Wednesday that he hadn’t heard about Carlisle’s postgame criticism, which dominated the media discussion about the Mavs over the last 36 hours.

“Well, I don’t blame him,” Mayo said when informed of Carlisle’s comments.

Carlisle kept his comments about Mayo brief after the final shootaround of the season: “He’s ready to go. He’s ready to go.”

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4695747/o-j-mayo-id-like-to-be-back-here

Carlisle: Feelings about O.J. Mayo haven’t changed

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DALLAS — O.J. Mayo‘s role for the final game didn’t change. Neither has Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle’s belief in the 25-year-old shooting guard despite the coach’s emotional postgame criticism of Mayo after Monday’s loss to Memphis.

Mayo started the season finale against the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday, just like he had the Mavs’ other 81 games this season.

“He’ll come out of this a much better and more experienced player,” Carlisle told ESPN Dallas 103.3’s Chuck Cooperstein in a pregame interview. “My feelings about him haven’t changed.”

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Carlisle’s on-the-record opinion about Mayo is that he can be a starter on a contender.

That was the Mavs’ hope when they signed Mayo last summer to a contract that includes a $4.2 million player option for next season. Mayo has averaged 15.4 point and 4.4 assists while leading the Mavs in minutes during his up-and-down season.

Mayo also led the Mavs in tough love received by Carlisle, whose ability to develop players was one of the primary reasons Mayo signed with the Mavs.

The amount of time Carlisle invested in Mayo was one of the primary reasons the coach was so bluntly honest about his disappointment Monday night. Carlisle called the criticism — which featured him saying Mayo “failed to compete” against his former team — “a little out of character for me.”

“I’ve spent so much time with him, I really feel like a Little League parent,” Carlisle said. “So when there’s an opportunity for him to step up, I really want to see him do well.”

Mayo said earlier in the day he was not aware of Carlisle’s criticism of him following Monday’s game.

“Well, I don’t blame him,” Mayo said after Wednesday’s shootaround when apprised of Carlisle’s comments.

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4695752/carlisle-feelings-about-o-j-mayo-havent-changed

Rapid Reaction: Mavericks 99, Hornets 87

The fact that the New Orleans Hornets are horrible helped the Dallas Mavericks’ cause.

The Mavs actually had a little motivation, too, wanting to at least finish .500.

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Point guard Darren Collison, perhaps playing his final game for the Mavs, lit up his former team for a game-high 25 points, his second-highest point total of the season. Collison was 10-of-15 from the floor in 29 minutes off the bench.

Dirk Nowitzki added 16 points and nine rebounds before sitting out the fourth quarter. Shawn Marion had 15 points and seven rebounds and exited to a nice ovation with a few minutes remaining.

Eric Gordon led New Orleans with 17 points, but he was 4-of-17 from the floor and committed four turnovers. The Hornets shot just 36.9 percent.

What it means: The Mavs avoided having a losing season for the first time since 1999-2000. They finished 41-41. The Hornets, who will now be known as the Pelicans, went 27-55.

Play of the game: Nowitzki knocked down one of his trademark one-legged fadeaways at the third-quarter buzzer to stretch the Mavs’ lead to double digits for the first time in the game. It was a vintage Nowitzki move, creating the shot off the dribble and launching the 16-footer over the outstretched arm of New Orleans 7-footer Robin Lopez.

Stat of the night: Hornets small forward Al-Farouq Aminu had a 14-8 rebounding advantage over the Mavericks in the first quarter. Aminu, who averages 7.5 rebounds per game, set a franchise record for rebounds in a quarter. He finished the game with a career-high 20 rebounds.

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4695761/rapid-reaction-mavericks-99-hornets-87

Mavs’ top priority: Upgrade point guard

The Mavericks will explore all potential avenues of improving the talent on their roster, but upgrading at point guard is the top priority.

While Darren Collison confidently declared Thursday that he believes he could start for any team in the league, the Dallas decision-makers clearly don’t share that opinion. After all, they opted to start Derek Fisher and Mike James over Collison in a season that president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson described as a “point guard odyssey.”

PODCAST Donnie Nelson joins Chuck Cooperstein and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Mavericks’ season and the importance of this summer.

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The Mavs might welcome Collison back as a backup, depending on the price. They’ll search this summer for a long-term starting solution at a spot that coach Rick Carlisle calls “the most important position in the league.”

“We’ve been spoiled with Jason Kidd and Stevie Nash before,” Nelson said during a Thursday appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3’s Galloway and Company. “I think the quarterback position is just a really, really important one. I’d say that that’s up there.

“That’s no disrespect for anyone. Darren Collison did a terrific job with a tough situation, and we’d certainly be open to the conversation of him coming back, but (upgrading point guard) has got to be in my mind first and foremost.”

The pie-in-the-sky scenario: Sign Chris Paul. Of course, the odds of him ditching a talented, young Clippers team to come to Dallas to play with a mid-30s core are awfully slim. As Mark Cuban recently said, he’ll be rooting for teams with free agents the Mavs might target to lose early in the playoffs. Would Paul consider leaving the Clippers if they flame out in the first round?

PODCAST Rick Carlisle joins Chuck Cooperstein and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Mavericks’ disappointing season and what needs to happen for them to get back to the playoffs.

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Paul will be the perfect fit, but the Mavs must be prepared to find their point guard of the future somewhere else. They might be able to draft next season’s backup with the 13th overall pick, assuming they don’t get amazing lottery luck, but a team determined to drastically improve its basketball IQ isn’t going to hand the reins to a rookie to run the show for 30-plus minutes a night.

It’s time for the Mavs to find a proven veteran point guard to fill Kidd’s shoes.

“I don’t know exactly what style, but the guy’s going to have to be able to score,” Carlisle said on Galloway and Company. “The guy’s going to have to be able to come off screens and hit shots, because when you’re come off screens from Dirk, you’re going to be open because of the way guys play him.”

A quick look at some of the other potential long-term upgrades available in free agency:

Jose Calderon: The Mavs have been involved in trade discussions about Calderon, as recently as midseason, when he got dealt from Toronto to Detroit in the three-way Rudy Gay deal. Calderon, who turns 32 in September, is a pass-first point guard who is a very efficient offensive player. He has career averages of 7.2 assists and 1.7 turnovers per game and is an excellent shooter (.483 FG, .399 3s, .877 FT). His flaws: He doesn’t penetrate well and is a poor defender, especially against speedy point guards.

Monta Ellis: The 27-year-old is not really a point guard. He’s a scorer (career 19.4 ppg) who sometimes plays point guard. He’s dangerous off the dribble and trouble in transition, but Ellis jacks up a lot of long jumpers and doesn’t make very many. He attempted 328 3s this season despite hitting only 28.7 percent, the lowest of any player with at least 200 tries. The idea of Ellis running pick-and-pops with Dirk Nowitzki is intriguing, but can a guard who has never averaged more than six assists per game in a season be counted on to consistently deliver Dirk the ball in prime scoring situations? And Ellis doesn’t exactly have a great defensive rep, either, despite his high steals totals.

Jarrett Jack: Jack, who turns 30 in October, is coming off his best season, averaging 12.9 points and 5.6 assists as the sixth man for a playoff team with Golden State. He’s an excellent midrange shooter and very effective hitting floaters off the dribble. He has a low turnover rate, the kind of strength and toughness Carlisle wants in a point guard and hit a lot of clutch shots for the Warriors this season. But Jack is really a combo guard who has never averaged more than 6.3 assists per season and struggles defensively against quick point guards. Like Kidd, he’s actually better defending shooting guards.

Brandon Jennings: Can the former lottery pick flourish under Carlisle’s coaching? Would it be worth offering enough to the restricted free agent for Milwaukee not to match? The 23-year-old Jennings, who has butted heads with his Bucks coaches, is on the record saying he’d love to play with Dirk and for Cuban and Carlisle in Dallas. His shooting percentage might soar in that situation, but the fact that it’s 39.4 percent for his career is a red flag. So is his slender frame (6-foot-1, 169 pounds). Oh, and so is the fact the Bucks have occasionally benched him during crunch time down the stretch this season. But Jennings (17.5 ppg, 6.5 apg this season) has shown enough flashes of brilliance to at least make him intriguing.

Jeff Teague: He’s a restricted free agent on a playoff team that has a ton of cap space, so the Mavs would have to overpay to get Teague. The four-year veteran is a quality young point guard, averaging 14.6 points and 7.2 assists this season, but it’s difficult to envision the Mavs throwing a ton of money at him.

Mo Williams: The 30-year-old Williams is best suited as a scoring sixth man, not a starting point guard. He’s a good spot-up 3-point shooter and knocks down a lot of midrange jumpers off pick-and-rolls, but he’s never been more than an average driver or distributor. Plus, Williams has major durability issues, having missed at least a dozen games in seven of the last eight seasons, including 36 with the Jazz last season, when he averaged 12.9 points and 6.2 assists.

There are, of course, other ways for the Mavs to acquire point guards. Hey, maybe Cuban can come up with some kind of multi-team deal that lands Rajon Rondo in Dallas.

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4695808/mavs-top-priority-upgrade-point-guard

Mavs’ summer financial forecast

DALLAS – Let’s take a quick look at the Mavericks’ financial forecast this summer, with an assist from renowned salary cap expert Larry Coon.

The Mavs have the following eight seven players under contract next season:

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Dirk Nowitzki ($22,721,381)

Shawn Marion ($9,316,796)

O.J. Mayo ($4,200,900)

UPDATE: Mayo decided not to exercise his player option for next season.

Vince Carter ($3,180,000)

Jared Cunningham ($1,208,400)

Jae Crowder ($788,872)

Bernard James ($788,872)

Josh Akognon ($788,872)

Marion has an early termination option, which was news to him and is extremely unlikely to be exercised. Mayo has a player option and said he intends to meet with his agent, Rob Pelinka, and Mavs owner Mark Cuban in the near future to begin his decision-making process. The salaries for James and Akognon are non-guaranteed.

PODCAST Donnie Nelson joins Chuck Cooperstein and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Mavericks’ season and the importance of this summer.

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Those eight salaries add up to $42,994,093. Coon is projecting next season’s salary cap to be in the range of $58.5 million to $60 million. Assuming lottery luck doesn’t shine on the Mavs and they end up with the 13th overall pick, they’d have a cap hold of $1,655,300, as well as a charge of $490,180 for each vacant spot up to 12 on the roster.

If Mayo had exercised his option to return, according to Coon’s calculations, the Mavs would have had between $13.0 million and $14.5 million if they deemed James and Akognon expendable and renounced the rights to all of their free agents. Those two rookies with non-guaranteed salaries essentially cost the Mavs $298,692 apiece against the cap (the difference between their salaries and the roster charges for a vacant spot).

With Mayo opting out, the Mavs will have between $17.2 million and $18.7 million in cap space, minus James and Akognon. The Mavs could add to that number by making salary-dump deals or using the stretch provision on contracts signed under the new collective bargaining agreement.

The Mavs would also have various exceptions available, as Coon details on his website, the go-to place for caponomics questions.

“We’re going to be opportunistic and try to improve the team,” Cuban said. “I don’t see us just signing just one-year deals anymore. I think we want to grab onto some people to be part of a longer-term solution and see what happens.

“We’re not going to make a financial commitment just to say we made a financial commitment and say that we did. If there’s nobody there to sign that helps us, we won’t sign anybody and we’ll tell everybody exactly why we did what we did and deal with the consequences.

“But we think there will at least be some guys that we think can help us. We’ll see who they are and we’ll see what we can do.”

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4695777/mavs-summer-financial-forecast

Dirk Nowitzki: ‘I belong to this city’

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DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki has made it clear that he can’t stomach the thought of finishing his career fighting just to make the playoffs.

That doesn’t mean he’s pondering ever putting on another NBA franchise’s uniform. He’s simply pointing out the importance of the front office making major roster upgrades this summer to give the Mavericks a chance to compete for championships again.

PODCAST Rick Carlisle joins Chuck Cooperstein and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Mavericks’ disappointing season and what needs to happen for them to get back to the playoffs.

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“Honestly, I can’t really see myself going anywhere else but here,” Nowitzki said at the beginning of his first playoff-free offseason since 2000. “Really, the pressure is on Mark (Cuban) and Donnie (Nelson) to get this franchise back to where it belongs, and they know that. Then we’re all good, everything’s fine.

“I mean, I belong to this city. That’s just the bottom line. I could never see myself playing for another franchise, putting another jersey on. That would be probably the hardest thing I’d have to do in my life. I want to stay here, but I also want to play at a high level with a good team that we can be proud of and represent this city and this franchise.”

Nowitzki, who intends to sign a two- or three-year deal when his current contract expires after next season, is willing to do anything he can to help the Mavs recruit free agents this summer.

Unlike most summers, he’ll be in Dallas instead of his native Germany the majority of the time. That’s largely because his wife, Jessica, is expecting the couple’s first child. However, Nowitzki said he planned to be in Dallas at the beginning of July for professional reasons anyway.

“It’s a big summer,” Nowitzki said. “I would have probably been here in July regardless to knock on Cuban’s bunker suite every other day and see what he’s got cooking.”

The ever optimistic Cuban recently noted that Nowitzki’s wife is much more attractive than him, so the future Hall of Famer must have some persuasive skills. Those will be tested in early July, with Nowitzki still holding out hope that he can help talk Chris Paul and/or Dwight Howard into leaving Los Angeles for Dallas – or at least help recruit more realistic talent upgrades.

“I can try, but I’m really not the most positive person,” Nowitzki said. “I guess that’s a German thing.”

Nowitzki can confidently talk in glowing terms about his experiences living in Dallas and playing for Cuban, Nelson and coach Rick Carlisle. Those three men would be a major part of Nowitzki’s basketball sales pitch.

“We have a great owner and a great GM in place. We have a great coach in place that coached us to win the championship,” Nowitzki said. “We’ve got a couple of veterans (Shawn Marion and Vince Carter) still under contract. We’ve got some veteran leadership already, and then we’ve got a lot of roster space.

“We’ve got some cap space and we can get some players in here that can help. I think all those three experienced guys, they’ve still got something left in the tank. Come on in, we’ll see how far we can ride it out.”

Nowitzki plans to ride it out in Dallas until he retires, which is at least three years away.

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4695792/dirk-nowitzki-i-belong-to-this-city