O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison were seen as pieces that presented the backcourt of the future. With both of them still in their mid-20s, the sky was the limit for both Mayo and Collison. Unfortunately, the two never really seemed to click at the same time. With Dirk Nowitzki out for the first 27 games of the season, Mayo led the team in scoring and minutes and was primed to be the player everyone hoped he would become. Ultimately, he hit a wall and was unable to really recover from it.
Collison saw his starting position taken away from him by two veteran point guards who joined the team during the middle of the season, Derek Fisher and Mike James. It was an extremely up and down season for the young point guard. You only have to look at the team’s regular season finale where he scored a game-high 25 points to see that there’s potential there.
Both could easily be with the Mavs next season or both of them could be playing on new squads, creating a new void for the franchise. You can make a case that either route is a solid decision for the franchise. Time will tell what they ultimately do. For now, here are the exit interviews for both Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo.
How do you approach the summer? “I think it’s simple. Everything is out of my control at this point. My agent, this is his time to work. It’s my time to relax and just continue to get my mind cleared and get ready to get better. I always enjoy the offseason. I always continue to work on my game throughout the offseason, so that the only thing I’m worried about right now.”
What discussion or message have you had with your agent in terms of what you want next season? “To be honest, we haven’t had too many discussions about anything, as of yet. My biggest thing this year was just to withstand everything that came against me and take everything as a challenge and I did. I just kept working. We never really had too many discussions about anything yet. I’m sure we are in the next few days or so, but as of right now, we haven’t.”
Was there pressure to come in and replace Jason Kidd? “No. I think, regardless, people were going to make their assumptions. Whether I played well or I didn’t play well, I was going to be lined up against a guy like Jason Kidd. He’s probably one of the best guards we’ve ever seen in this league and rightfully so. There was no pressure. For me, it was just about going out there and playing my game.”
Could he come back to Dallas in the same role he finished the season with? “Um, I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m not going to say no because I definitely experienced it and I’m capable of playing off the bench. At the same time, I just know who I am as a person and as a player. I know I’m capable of playing for any team as a starter. We’ll see, that’s not my concern right now. I’m just trying to get over the fact we didn’t make the playoffs as a team. I think that’s the most upsetting thing for me as an individual.”
How hard was it to build chemistry and cohesion with so many new guys on board? “Extremely hard … It’s hard playing with new faces. You’ve got to get accustomed to their games. You’ve got to get used to it. We always think about if Dirk didn’t get hurt in the beginning of the season what could have been? That’s not an excuse. That’s just the reality of the situation. I’m sure we’ll bounce back strong and find a way to carry things forward in a positive way.”
Did that issue also relate to many guys being on the last year of their deal? “From my personal experience, it’s tough playing in the last year of your contract. As a human, you’re always thinking about your family … All of those things are out of your control. To play with nine guys on the last of their deal is pretty tough to do. I thought we did a good job of keeping basketball ahead of us and just trying to focus on the task ahead of us. Even though we didn’t make the playoffs, we finished off strong.
What did you learn about yourself this season? “I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I can pretty much take on any challenge. It was extremely tough. But the biggest thing I did was just put the team in front of me. It wasn’t about me at the end of the day. It was coach’s decision to [play] me [coming] off the bench. That was his decision and I learned to deal with it. I learned that I could deal with those circumstances in any way. I learned a lot about myself.”
How is his relationship with coach Rick Carlisle? “It’s still cool. Rick is still my coach. I still have respect for him as a coach. I thought he did a good job with this ballclub, despite all of us being on the last year of our deals. Regardless of what he did to me, or what everybody may feel like he did to me, I still have respect for him and the rest of this organization.”
On opting out but keeping the Mavs in mind: “I’ll try to work something out to stay here long term.”
What was the thought process of opting out? “I just think it’s what best for me moving forward.”
How is your relationship with coach Rick Carlisle? “Everything is great. (With his comments after the Memphis game) he wanted me to do well. I put a lot of work in this year to be successful. I think it was just emotions after that game.”
How did things change where it appeared his impact on the game changed later in the season? “I was obviously a little fatigued. Having that role to be one of the top options on the team and leading the team in minutes was a little tough towards the end of the year. It was a little different than the last three years of my career. Going into this summer, I’m going to be in better shape and understand what I’m getting myself in to.”
Was there any loss of confidence during that slide? “No, not at all.”
Was it mental fatigue or physical fatigue that you experienced, or was it both? “It was probably a little bit of both.”
What makes you think that it could work as a long term fit in Dallas? “I had a good time here and I got better. I think the more familiar faces with the team would be better to be able to build something.”
How eager are you to see how the market works out for you? “I really haven’t thought about it. It’s going to be a long process. I’m going to have talk with my agent this upcoming weekend and sit down and get something worked out.”
On giving his game to Rick Carlisle: “I thought it worked well. I got better in aspects of my game other than just shooting and scoring the ball.”
How would you see your role in Dallas evolving? “It was obviously something new. That’s one of those situations where the longer you’re here with familiar faces, the better things will get.”
Does he feel that the organization wants him back? “Yeah. After having a meeting with coach and Mr. Nelson, I think it’s something we’re going to try to get after this summer.”
Will you look back at the teams that were interested in you during last offseason? “Yeah, depending on what happens with the draft and free agency. With new teams popping up on the list, I’ll need to talk to my agent and see what we can work out.”
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.