O.J. Mayo signs with Mavericks
DALLAS -- O.J. Mayo has arrived in Dallas with a lot to prove.
Mayo, who signed a two-year contract with the Mavericks on Thursday, didn't develop into the franchise cornerstone for the Memphis Grizzlies many expected him to be after he was the third overall pick in the 2008 draft and the runner-up to Chicago's Derrick Rose in Rookie of the Year voting.
His statistics dropped significantly the past two seasons, when he transitioned into a sixth-man role for the Grizzlies.
Mayo, who confirmed that his contract includes a player option for the second year, looks forward to a fresh start with a remodeled team that he believes will contend for a title this season.
"I think I'm a better player now than coming in (as a rookie)," Mayo said. "Even though the stats don't show it, I'm mentally and physically a better player. I'm just looking forward to going out there and getting the opportunity to show that I'm a starting guard in this league and I can compete with the other starting guards in this league and compete at a high level."
Mayo averaged 18.5 points per game on 43.8 percent shooting as a rookie and followed that up with similar statistics (17.5 points, 45.8 percent shooting) in his second season. He wasn't nearly as productive coming off the bench the past two seasons, averaging 11.9 points on 40.7 percent shooting while his playing time was sliced by more than 10 minutes per game.
Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said Mayo is "penciled in" as the Mavs' starting shooting guard.
"I just want to go out there and play and win," Mayo said. "I think the last two years of my career, I've been pretty much sacrificing for the betterment of our team. I understood that and did that, but coming here is definitely a fresh start. I'll put my past behind me and come ready to play."
Mayo also expects to play some point guard. Darren Collison, acquired along with Dahntay Jones in a sign-and-trade deal that sent Ian Mahinmi to the Indiana Pacers, is the only pure point guard on the roster after Jason Kidd opted to sign with the New York Knicks.
The Mavs still could re-sign combo guard Delonte West, who was Kidd's primary backup and an occasional starter at shooting guard last season.
Mayo, whose salary is believed to be about $4 million, acknowledged he was disappointed not to receive any lucrative, long-term contract offers this summer. He said he also considered signing with the Suns, Lakers, Celtics, Bulls and Pacers.
"That's the way it goes," Mayo said. "That's part of the reason why you have to keep working, keep playing, and hopefully, it can open up at another time."