ESPNDallas.com columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor and MavsOutsider.com editor in chief Bryan Gutierrez will join me each week to run a three-man weave on a few questions on the minds of Mavs fans.
1. Can Samuel Dalembert get out of the doghouse?
Gutierrez: It's looking like that mountain might be too hard for Dalembert to climb. To show how sad it has gotten for Dalemebert, he got a majority of his minutes against Sacramento when the game was no longer in doubt. Brandan Wright's return is approaching, thus limiting Dalembert's minutes more. With his contract only being partially guaranteed next season, it's shaping up to be that Dallas very well could be another one-and-done stop for Dalembert.
Taylor: The best thing about Rick Carlisle is that his doghouse is not permanent. All Carlisle wants is for players to fill their role. No more, no less. Dalembert isn't doing that. He's supposed to be an above-average defensive player who can give you a little offense. The reality is any team that signs him could not care less about his offense. What they want is consistent defense. Until he provides that, Blair is going to keep starting.
MacMahon: It’s hard to see that happening. Dalembert got demoted before Wright’s return, so it’s logical to think that there will be even less playing time for the big man signed to be the Mavs’ starting center once Wright is ready to roll. This can’t be considered a big surprise. Dalembert was the best of the leftover big men when Dallas had a desperate need to fill a huge hole in the roster this summer, but there’s a reason he’s bounced around the league so much. It always seemed like a matter of time before Dalembert’s tendency to coast wore out Carlisle’s nerves.
2. Is the buzzer-beating win over the Trail Blazers or the blowout loss to the Kings more meaningful in the grand scheme of things?
Gutierrez: I'm going to say the Portland win is more meaningful simply because they were susceptible to falling into the trap of an emotional letdown against Sacramento. That said, the Mavs should be fully aware that they can't afford to have any slippage and that they have to play the full 48 minutes in order to get a win.
Taylor: Nothing meaningful happens in the NBA until after the All-Star break. The win over Portland shows what the Mavs can do on a night they're focused and play well and the Kings loss showed them they're not good enough to mail in a performance against any team. These are all little lessons that help a team grow, learn and understand its capabilities. As long as they’re in the thick of the playoff race, no win or loss has huge implications attached to it until after the All-Star break.
MacMahon: I’ll say the slip-up in Sacramento, but that’s because it’s a night that Carlisle can use as a coaching tool the rest of the season. The Mavs aren’t good enough to assume a win against anyone, even a bad team with a depleted roster while waiting on the day after a trade. The thriller in Portland is proof that the Mavs are capable of competing against the West’s best. Maybe that’s a confidence boost, but I don’t think this team has any self-esteem issues. They have major defensive issues that require constant intensity and attention to detail to address. Just show up and lace up the shoes? Well, Carlisle can always remind his players of what happened in Sacramento.
3. What should the Mavs be willing to offer for Omer Asik?
Gutierrez: Dallas doesn't have a first-round pick to dangle, but it has pieces in the form of Shawn Marion, Brandan Wright, Samuel Dalembert and Vince Carter that, in theory, would be appealing to Houston. The problem with trading Marion away is you're creating another hole by trading him to acquire Asik. That said, Dallas knows how valuable a defensive-minded big man can be to this new core. For Asik, the Mavericks should be willing to pursue, whether Marion or the other players listed above are involved.
Taylor: Is he going to help them win a title? Is he a max contract player? Is he a budding superstar? I can't say we know enough to determine whether he's capable of being a perennial All-Star. Until we do, I'm not mortgaging what little future the Mavs have for him. Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis are safe. Everyone else is fair game -- not that I think the Rockets would want anything else.
MacMahon: The only three players on the roster I wouldn’t be willing to discuss in a deal for Asik are Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon. Anyone else is open game. I’ve floated the idea of offering Dalembert and Vince Carter -- an idea I borrowed with permission from Mavs broadcasting legend Bob Ortegel -- but those two guys haven’t exactly boosted their trade value. Marion for Asik? That makes some sense for the Rockets, but Houston might get more attractive offers. It’d create a hole at small forward, but it’d fill the Mavs’ desperate need for a dependable defensive force in the middle. The problem: The Rockets will probably get more attractive offers than the Mavs can reasonably make.