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O.J. Mayo: ‘Would’ve been an honor to play’ for Celtics

12.13.12 at 1:14 am ET
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This past April, Celtics analyst Donny Marshall claimed O.J. Mayo‘s refusal to play for the Celtics led to the collapse of a deal with the Grizzlies that would have brought him to Boston last season in exchange for Ray Allen and a draft pick. “Mayo basically said, ‘I don’t care about banners,’” announced Marshall.

After losing to the Celtics in double overtime on Wednesday, the current Mavericks guard denied that accusation, referencing his lack of veto power without a no-trade clause and affirming he would’ve welcomed the deal to Boston.

“I was in a good situation in Memphis at the time,” said Mayo. “Obviously, Boston is a big-time organization as well. Great players. It would’€™ve been an honor to play with KG [Kevin Garnett], [Paul] Pierce and [Rajon] Rondo. It would’€™ve been great to play with those guys and with [Celtics coach] Doc [Rivers].”

Instead, Mayo blamed the deal’s failure on an internal debate between C’s players and the front office over Allen’s future.

“I was pretty much set to come here and something fell through at the very last second,” said Mayo, who collected 24 points (10-19 FG), six rebounds, three assists and two steals in Wednesday night’s loss to the Celtics. “A couple of the guys wanted to keep Ray, and management wanted to make the trade.

“It’€™s just business, though,” he continued. “I was just really trying to stay focused, because I’€™d been traded [to the Celtics] and it didn’€™t go through two or three times. It can mess with you, obviously. It’€™ll mess with anyone, but if it doesn’€™t go through, you’€™ve got to continue to be a professional, come to work and work hard.”

Mayo finished out last season with the Grizzlies and entered free agency. Jason Terry agreed to leave Dallas for a three-year, $15.7 million deal in Boston on July 3, and the Celtics again inquired about Mayo, but he agreed on July 17 to a one-year, $4.0 million deal with the Mavs that includes a $4.2 million player option for 2013-14. Three days later, the C’s pulled the trigger on a four-year, $21.4 million sign-and-trade deal for Courtney Lee.

“Yeah, [the Celtics called me],” said Mayo, “but I think it didn’€™t go as rapid as they would’€™ve liked. They signed Lee and JET. That’€™s my position as well. It’€™s all right, though. … I’€™m happy where I am now in Dallas, playing with guys like Vince [Carter], ‘€˜Trix [Shawn Marion], Dirk [Nowitzki], Chris [Kaman], EB [Elton Brand] and now D-Fish [Derek Fisher], so we’€™ve got great vets here, and I’€™m learning every day as much as possible.”

If, in fact, the Celtics took the Allen-for-Mayo trade off the table, they might want a mulligan. Allen, of course, left for the Heat, and the 25-year-old Mayo is enjoying a career year, giving the Mavericks 20.9 points (and a ridiculous 52.5 3P%) to go along with 4.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 36 minutes a night for $4 million. Meanwhile, Terry and Lee combine for 17.0 points (33.3 3P%), 4.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 54 minutes a night for $10 million.

‘€œ[Mayo's] work ethic has definitely changed,’€ Terry said after Tuesday’s Celtics practice. ‘€œIf you hear coming out of their locker room what he’€™s done differently, he’€™s brought better work habits. He’€™s been there at night, and he’€™s coming early before the games, so I think that’€™s carrying over for him. He’€™s always been a great talent, but there’€™s been questions about his work ethic. Obviously, this year he’€™s put the work in, and it’€™s starting to show.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Courtney Lee, Dallas Mavericks, Jason Terry
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