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."
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.