Mavs pining for uncertain return of Jason Kidd

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The hope now seems to rest on the ability of Jason Kidd to return from a strained right groin and quickly regain a championship form that's been absent most of the season.

"We needed his veteran leadership to make passes and not turn the ball over," Dirk Nowitzki said after Saturday's 94-89 loss to the Grizzlies, the Mavs' third defeat in four games. "We definitely need it. Hopefully we’ll see him at some point (this) week and keep the troops together, stay healthy and make a push here towards the playoffs."

No one seems sure when Kidd will be back in uniform. The club's original timetable had Kidd missing four games through Memphis. Dallas reconvenes Monday for practice before beginning its final nine games starting with a one-and-done home game against Sacramento on Tuesday followed by a four-game swing out west (Portland, Golden State, Lakers, Utah) that could prove critical to securing a playoff berth.

Obviously there are degrees of severity for such injuries, and at 39, who knows how Kidd will respond once he does return. Reigning league MVP Derrick Rose is expected to return today from a groin injury that sidelined the 23-year-old for 12 games.

"Who knows, right?" owner Mark Cuban said. "There’s nothing to lead us to believe that he won’t be fine when he does come back."

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle declined to get into specifics about Kidd, who did not make the trip, on Saturday at Memphis other than to say that he is improving. Kidd hasn't had much of a season, but it's clear the offense flows much more freely with the 18-year veteran at the controls.

"Of course it will change, he’s our floor general, but we’ve got to make it work until he comes back," Shawn Marion said. "We don’t know when he’s coming back. We can’ t be just harping on that. We put ourselves in position to win these games and we’re not doing it."

Adding to the problem is that Delonte West is not only playing with essentially one hand, it is quite apparent that he is gimpy from a twice-twisted left ankle. West made 6-of-7 shots for 14 points last Wednesday in the home win over Memphis. Then he twisted his ankle during Friday morning's shootaround and again during the game. He is 7-of-21 from the floor since for 18 points.

"I'm not going to get into Kidd's status because I don't have an updated report on it," Carlisle said prior Saturday's game. "He's doing better, but I'm not going to get into a timetable right now."