DENVER -- Two of Rick Carlisle’s favorite words sum up the roles of the Mavericks’ reserve big men right now: “Be ready.”
The only certainty regarding the Mavs’ center position is that Brendan Haywood will continue to be the starter. Carlisle has explained to Ian Mahinmi and Brandan Wright that their playing time could be unpredictable.
That isn’t an excuse for a lack of production from the backup big men.
“When called upon, they have to go in there and give us energy and rebounding and the things we ask our five men to do within our system,” Carlisle said. “Sometimes there aren’t enough minutes to play everybody. And really, it’s a decision I got to make but it doesn’t mean Ian has fallen out of favor or anything like that. It just means Wright earned the opportunity the other night and played well enough to earn the opportunity to stay in the game.”
Mahinmi has been a bright spot most of the season, averaging 7.5 points and 5.3 rebounds in 20.2 minutes per game, but Carlisle opted not to play him Saturday night in Cleveland.
That wasn’t necessarily meant as a message to Mahinmi. Wright simply has produced consistently in limited opportunities, leading Carlisle to expand the high flyer’s role.
“Brandan plays above the rim better than anybody else on our team,” Carlisle said. “He has some unique abilities that help us and so does Ian. Look, we’ve got to turn our center position into one of our strengths. And for a long stretch, it was. And I still believe it is. Those guys got to be a three-headed monster for us.”
Mahinmi said he didn’t try to read anything into his DNP a few nights ago. He gets that he isn’t guaranteed minutes, but Mahinmi’s mindset isn’t changing.
“I still see myself as Brendan Haywood’s backup,” Mahinmi said. I’m going to be ready to go any time [Carlisle] calls my name.”