Mavs mailbag: Any D in Dallas?

DALLAS -- With the NBA season upon us, it’s time to dust off the old mailbag.

Fire away with questions via my ESPN.com mailbag or on Twitter (@espn_macmahon). We’ll make this a weekly feature that runs Tuesday afternoon.

On to this week’s questions ...

Jason (Dallas): With all the great PG's out West, how big a fear is it that the Mavs will get torched on the perimeter on a nightly basis? Nothing worse for a defense than an inability to stop guards from breaking you down.

Jason, this might be the Mavs’ biggest concern. Calderon simply isn’t athletic enough to defend point guards as quick as Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, etc. And Ellis doesn’t exactly have a reputation as a defensive stopper either, if the Mavs decide to cross-match and put him on point guards.

The reality is, no matter how much Rick Carlisle emphasizes it, the Mavs aren’t going to be a great defensive team. They’ll have to fight and scrap to be decent defensively. They’ll have to be smart and disciplined to make up for their personnel flaws on that end of the floor. And hope shot-blocking big man Samuel Dalembert can cover up a lot of flaws and stay out of foul trouble.

Jose Martinez (Dallas): Before Jose Calderon arrived in the preseason, Monta Ellis was looking amazing, but since Calderon has started playing, his numbers have been horrible. Is that a coincidence? Or should we worry?

Take a deep breath, Jose. I’m going to put it in the coincidence category. If anything, it’s evidence that the Mavs’ starting guards will need a little time to develop some chemistry. The key with Ellis will be shot selection. If he’s launching a lot of long jumpers, especially if they’re off the dribble, he’s going to have a dreadful shooting percentage. If most of his shots come off attacking the basket, he has a chance to be an efficient scorer and creator.

Calderon should help Ellis, who has never before played with a pass-first point guard. Calderon’s perimeter shooting should also help space the floor for Ellis to operate as a pick-and-roll initiator. No need to knee-jerk over the stats from four preseason games.

Michael (Dallas): With all kinds of NBA teams blowing up their rosters with an eye towards the 2014 draft, much has been made of the Mavericks' refusal to do so. What's your take? Would the Mavs have been better off throwing in the towel this season? How does the first-round pick they owe Oklahoma City play into this?

Michael, the first-round pick owed to OKC – originally given up for Lamar Odom, in case anyone has forgotten – is a nonfactor in the Mavs’ refusal to go into tank mode. That pick is lottery protected through 2017.

This is about Mark Cuban’s stubborn competitive fire as much as anything. He can’t stomach the thought of tanking. Even if he could, he feels like he owes it to Dirk Nowitzki to be as competitive as possible through the big German’s golden years.

And, really, it’s pretty much impossible to tank with a healthy Dirk on the roster. You can only be so bad with a player that good as the centerpiece. So the Mavs are trying to do the most difficult thing in the NBA: rebuild without hitting rock bottom.

Matthew (Dallas): Even after adding Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis, Dallas seems like they will still have cap flexibility in 2014. The prizes of next summer (LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony) will most likely not be coming here, but is there a degree of interest in a consolation prize? I'd be happy with Chris Bosh.

Matthew, the Mavs are set up to have a ton of cap space again next summer with Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter coming off the books. Nowitzki is already on the record saying he will re-sign at a significantly reduced salary.

The problem: Who is worth paying other than the big fish that are pipe dreams? I don’t see Bosh as a good fit next to Dirk. Does Luol Deng do much for you? Danny Granger?

Maybe the Mavs can pull off a blockbuster trade, but their search for a legitimate superstar to pair with Nowitzki isn’t getting any easier.

@aboyd817 on Twitter: What would it take for Mavs to land a top 5 playoff seed this year? #mavs_mailbag

Honestly, I think it’d take some significant injury issues for a team that’s above them in the West pecking order. I see, in whatever order, the Clippers, Spurs, Thunder, Rockets and Warriors as the clear class of the West. I think the Grizzlies are the sixth team in the mix. I anticipate the Mavs fighting for one of those last two spots.

@electriclight41 on Twitter: 1, What are the odds on the beards coming back; and 2, can Monta Ellis even grow a beard?

I believe the .500 beards were a one-and-done deal. If Ellis could grow a decent beard, I’m sure he would have to help get through those brutal Milwaukee winters.