October 8, 2013

Forgotten in Boston, Melo eager to prove his value with Mavericks

Second-year center Fab Melo says the Celtics never gave him an opportunity.

Fab Melo’s rookie season with the Boston Celtics was such a blur, he doesn’t remember all the twists and turns.

But there’s one thing Melo will never forget that really irks him.

“They didn’t give me a chance,” Melo said of his time last season with the Celtics. “Even in practice, I wasn’t getting a chance.

“It was very hard to show what I could do.”

Melo averaged 1.2 points and 0.5 rebounds in 6 minutes per game last year. He also spent three stints with the Red Maine Claws — Boston’s entry in the National Basketball Development League.

Melo didn’t understand why the Celtics spent the better portion of last season positioning him like a yo-yo on a string, especially after they made him the No. 22 overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft.

For now, Melo is one of 20 players in the Dallas Mavericks’ training camp. The 7-foot, 255-pound center is trying to resurrect his career before he winds up a journeyman bouncing from one team to another.

“I’m just doing the things I’m supposed to do, like running the floor and getting my work in every day,” Melo said. “I think I’ve gotten a lot better, and I’m doing the things that the coach asked me.

“I think that’s the things that are going to get me back on the court.”

Because the Mavericks already have 15 guaranteed contracts — NBA teams can only carry a maximum of 15 players on their regular-season roster — it’s a long shot that Melo will even stick around in these parts when the final rosters are turned in before the regular season starts. The Mavericks would have to make a trade or eat one of those guaranteed contracts in order to make Melo’s day.

“We’ll see,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I was a long shot, too, my rookie year [in 1984].

“And then a bunch of [stuff] happened and I ended up making the team. So we’ll see what happens.”

Melo knows it’s not an easy proposition trying to make the Mavericks’ final roster. But he claims he was in a much tougher situation last year in Boston.

“I had a lot of pressure on me being a first-round pick,” Melo said. “Here [in Dallas] I just come to practice and do my work, and I’ve been given a great opportunity, so I’m trying to take advantage of it.

“I’m thinking about the Mavs right now. I’m trying to make the team and trying to show the coach what I can do, but if I don’t make it here I’m sure I can make it somewhere else.”

After Melo fell out of favor in Boston, the Celtics shipped him to the Memphis Grizzlies on Aug. 15. But the Grizzlies inexplicably waived Melo 15 days later.

“When I heard I was getting traded, I was just getting ready to go to Memphis,” Melo said. “But Memphis, I didn’t understand that.

“I was there for one week working out with the coaches and some of the players. And then I heard I got released, so I just went to the next step.”

Perhaps Melo can get some answers from the Grizzlies (0-1) when the Mavs (0-1) play Memphis at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the FedEx Forum.

With starting center Samuel Dalembert coming off a poor performance in Monday’s 94-92 loss to New Orleans, Carlisle said Melo could get his first action with the Mavericks on Wednesday night.

“He’s a good prospect,” Carlisle said. “From a physical standpoint, there aren’t many big guys that can run and play above the rim the way that he can that are that big.

“He plays within himself. We’ll see him before long.”

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