Chris Kaman eyes Saturday return

DALLAS -- Center Chris Kaman hopes to make his Dallas Mavericks debut Saturday night after fully participating in a practice for the first time since he strained his right calf Oct. 17.

Kaman and the Mavs' medical staff want to see how his calf responds to a day of work before clearing him to play in the home opener against the Charlotte Bobcats.

"I'm hoping to play. I'm wanting to play," Kaman said. "At the same time, if it's not something I'm able to do, then I won't do it. I'm going to do what's best for the team and also what's best for myself long-term, because if I play now and set myself much farther back, that hurts the team and it also hurts me.

"I want to make sure I'm ready, and I think I am, but also I want to see how I feel in the morning."

The Mavs signed the 7-foot Kaman to a one-year, $8 million deal this summer to be their starting center. After signing Kaman, they used the amnesty clause on Brendan Haywood, who was claimed by Charlotte.

Kaman will be the only traditional center on the roster after the Mavs waive Eddy Curry to create a spot for power forward Troy Murphy, whose one-year deal will become official after he passes a physical.

Durability is the biggest concern about Kaman, who has averaged 11.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in nine NBA seasons. He missed a total of 152 games in the previous five seasons due to a variety of injuries.

Kaman, who also missed a few days after spraining his lower back in the Mavs' first practice of training camp, said he felt out of sync offensively during practice and will need to improve his conditioning after the layoff, but he felt good physically.

"We're hopeful," coach Rick Carlisle said. "I want to be careful. It's been a long 33 days or whatever (since the Mavs opened training camp). This is a very positive thing, but we've got to see how he comes out of it tomorrow."

The Mavs desperately need Kaman's size and interior presence. They were outrebounded by 27 during their 1-1 road trip against the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz to open the season.

Carlisle hopes the 6-foot-11, 245-pound Murphy, who has averaged 10.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in his 12-year career, can help with rebounding and fill the Mavs' frontcourt perimeter shooting void while Dirk Nowitzki continues to rehab from arthroscopic knee surgery.

"We need rebounding, we need shooting," Carlisle said. "He's a veteran guy who's proven in both of those areas. We think he can help us."