October 01, 2014

ST. FRANCIS, Wis. (AP) O.J. Mayo has very few memories of last season.

It's probably a good thing, considering he played in just 52 games - only 23 starts - for the Milwaukee Bucks and finished with career lows in just about every offensive category.

He spent most of the second half of the Bucks' 15-67 season watching from the bench thanks to a conditioning issue.

But that's in the past, Mayo said Tuesday as the Bucks kicked off training camp. Appearing noticeably slimmer - Mayo didn't disclose his actual weight - the sixth-year shooting guard is ready to get back to work.

''I don't want to talk about weight,'' Mayo said. ''I want to talk about training camp and I want to talk about basketball and the season. All that is dead. I forgot about it, I'm sorry. That was four or five months ago. I'm ready for this new year.

''We've got a good team, and I think we're all motivated to have a good season. That's where my mind is. I can't think both ways. It would feel a little weird.''

The Bucks are counting on Mayo to return to the scoring threat he was when he landed a three-year, $32 million contract before last season. With Dallas during the 2012-13 season, Mayo started all 82 games and averaged 14.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists. He shot 46 percent from the field and 38 percent on 3-point attempts.

''That's what sports is all about, being able to bounce back,'' Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. ''It was a down year for him, but coming back and being able to show that you can still play at a high level - every athlete faces that at some point - that's the challenge and the fun part about sports.

''You're given a second opportunity and sometimes a third opportunity to showcase your talent.''

Kidd also wasn't too concerned with last season.

''This is the only O.J. I've seen,'' he said. ''That's the only way I can judge. His IQ is high; he knows how to play the game. He's not just a scorer but he can find the open guy.''

Mayo stands to have a leg up on his teammates as Kidd settles in for his first season leading the Bucks. Kidd plans to base some of his game plans off what he learned playing for the Mavericks under Rick Carlisle from 2008-12, the same system Mayo played under before signing with Milwaukee.

''It's just making reads and making the right play,'' Mayo said. ''It will be a lot more up-tempo. I think it fits our game and our style of play better than maybe last year because we have a lot of offensive players.''

Mayo isn't the only Bucks veteran looking for a bounce-back season.

Center Larry Sanders returned to the floor Tuesday trying to put his own disappointing season behind him. He signed a four-year, $44 million contract last summer, only to get off to a slow start before breaking his hand during a bar fight two games into the season. He didn't return until Dec. 27 and was lost for the season six weeks later when he sustained a fractured orbital bone that eventually required surgery.

''Never in my career playing basketball did I have a year like that,'' Sanders said.

Sanders also had a suspension for marijuana use and has been the subject of several additional off-the-court issues, but was happy Tuesday to be back at work and able to use his previous year as a learning process.

''I'm so thankful for the year I went through,'' he said. ''It was a lot of noise, and a lot of it was negative. You have to dig deep, find the positive and work your way through it. I need to stay confident in myself and my ability and just keep working.''

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