A happy O.J. Mayo proclaimed on Twitter last night that he would be heading southwest from Memphis to Dallas, as sources said he and the Mavericks agreed to a multiyear deal. Mayo had been involved in seemingly just about every trade rumor that the Memphis Grizzlies were apart of during these last few years, as Mike Conley’s continuing growth as spearhead of the Grizzlies’ attack left less time for Mayo to run the show, and he was often asked to simply spot-up and try to make a shot from the outside every so often, as three-point shooting was Memphis’s consistent woe last season.
In Dallas, with Jason Terry gone and owner Mark Cuban retooling after losing out on Deron Williams, the Mayo signing makes plenty of sense. While he hasn’t proven to be the prolific, ready-to-use-right-out-of-the-box scorer that Terry was for so many years alongside Dirk Nowitzki, he also didn’t have the focus of the offense in Memphis that he could have for stretches with the Mavericks. Terry would take pressure off Nowitzki by running the offense through pick-and-rolls and isolated attacks while Dirk caught his breath; with more time to get into his rhythm, as well as the probability that, at some point, he and Nowitzki will engage in the same pick-and-rolls that were so lethal for so long between Dirk and JET in crunch time, Mayo’s full offensive repertoire stands to be used and needed by a Dallas team that will certainly look different next season. Defensively, too, Mayo’s length and youth should be an upgrade over either Terry or Vince Carter, the Mavericks’ main wing defenders of a season ago. One would think that if Mayo has it in him to be a valuable, constant presence and contributor to a winning team, this stint in Dallas would be the proving ground.
The Mayo signing was another in a flurry of Dallas transactions following their losing out on both Williams and Steve Nash in free agency. For awhile, they had the feel of the Phoenix Suns — a lottery team, talent-wise, surrounding a future Hall-of-Famer in Nowitzki. Now, after dealing for Darren Collison to add a jolt of speed and dangerousness to the point guard spot previously manned by the legendary and crafty, yet certainly not speedy nor dangerous Jason Kidd, bigs Chris Kaman and Elton Brand to shore up the frontline, providing breathing room for Nowitzki and the chance to amnesty the all-too-forgettable Brendan Haywood, along with perimeter stopper Dahntay Jones, the Mavericks have the feel of a real live basketball team being pieced together by savvy, and not flashy, moves.
Are they actual contenders in the Western Conference? Who knows? With a team so new, like the one Dallas will be trotting out in October, it’s too soon to say definitively one way or the other how good or bad they can be. They may not be done making moves yet, either, but a full training camp and an un-locked out offseason will without question pay dividends for a team rebuilding on the fly while Dirk’s — their foundation to the belief they can still contend — hourglass slowly, slowly loses grains of sand. Sure, they still appear a few pieces away from the bar set by the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs last season, but Dallas sure looks to be in a better place than they did a few short weeks ago. Missing out on the mega-stars, to this point, has made the Mavericks assemble a team rather than a collection of players with supplementary parts. They didn’t strike gold, but it goes to show that a successful offseason can be measured in degrees rather than simple hits or misses.
Griffin Gotta contributes to The Hoop Doctors and is a co-managing editor of Straight Outta Vancouver on SB Nation. The story arcs and infinite weirdness of the NBA are addictions he deals with every day. Email him at griffingotta at gmail dot com.