Exit interviews are a time to say goodbye and get a jump start on the summer. Elton Brand came to the Dallas Mavericks in a unique way. The Philadelphia 76ers decided to use the one-time amnesty provision, foregoing the final $18.1 million owed to Brand in the last year of his five-year contract and not having it count against their luxury tax or salary cap. Always the opportunists, the Mavs claimed Brand off waivers with a winning bid of $2.1 million. It was a rough start for him, but he proved to be a versatile threat for the team on both ends of the floor.
Jae Crowder was taken 34th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Through a draft night-trade with the Mavs, he was sent to Dallas, along with 24th overall pick Jared Cunningham and 33rd overall pick Bernard James, in exchange for 17th overall pick Tyler Zeller and Kelenna Azubuike. He emerged as a nice asset for the Mavs. Over the course of the season he contributed in a variety of ways and found himself within the rotation.
It is unknown if Brand will return to the Mavs. Crowder is signed through next season, but could still be seen as a tradeable asset. Here is the quoteboard for Elton Brand and Jae Crowder’s exit interviews.
On if he would like to be back: “Free agent wise, I’d like to be back. Like I said (Wednesday), .500 for this organization is definitely a failure. I don’t want to be a part of that and leave a bad taste. I definitely want to be here on a winning team and try to rectify what happened this season, if possible.”
Other than missing the playoffs, what else was disappointing for the season: “That was it. The injuries and a lot of new faces are not excuses. They’re the reality. That’s the most disappointing, not making the playoffs. To know how much fun and how exciting it is for the fans and the city, to break this streak and not make the playoffs is the most disappointing part.”
The pace they were on to finish the year as a sign of optimism: “It was good, but we still know what challenges we have. We still have to get better. I’m sure we won’t bring the exact team back if I’m back. The organization will work tirelessly to make sure the team is better.”
What does the team need to get over the hump? “I don’t want to point out positions or things like that, but we need to get more defensive minded, get some tough guys out there to get some stops. Offensively we’re fine … We have enough talent to put the ball in the basket. We just have to find a way to get stops.”
Was it tough for so many guys to be playing in the final year of their respective deals? “Coach and the organization made sure guys played the right way for the most part all season long. It’s just tough when you have your own situation looming ahead in a few months. You don’t know where you’re going to be, if you’re going to start, how many minutes you’re going to play. That was tough on a lot of guys, I’m sure.”
On how much longer he can play: “It depends on the roll. Playing with Dallas, coach rested me some games, some time. Playing like that, I could play for forever. I felt good. In my DNA, I want to be out there. I want to be out there working with the guys, want to be out there every minute and fighting. Longevity, I could play a few more years.”
Was Dallas a good fit for you? “Ultimately, I think so. I was expecting power forward minutes, but the game is changing. A lot of power forwards are out on the wing and shooting 3s and things like that. I got a lot of center minutes which I’ve played a lot in my career but not this much. I saw that I could do it. I enjoyed it. It wasn’t a problem for me playing center.
How would he rate his rookie year? “It’s been a good year. I learned a lot of stuff about being a professional and being a basketball player. It was a long one but a good one”
On what he wants to do in the summer league: “Just try to be aggressive and be a playmaker. I want to tune up my all around game, for the most part. I’m looking forward to it.”
With a year under your belt, does that change your approach for his second season? “Yeah, now you know your role. You know how the game is and the pace of the game. Now I can put it all together. I look forward to doing that.”
If you hit a rookie wall, when do you think it happened? “Probably right before the All-Star break. I had been playing a full college season at that point. I knew it was going to be a long season for me, but I had a lot of great veterans around me so they kept me going each and every day.”
Is driving the ball something you want to do more next year? “No doubt. I feel like my role will change each and every year, so that’s something that I’m going to have to add to my game. Looking back at the season, doing that would be one thing that could have helped me. That’s what I’ll work on and that’s what I look forward to doing.”
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.