Two months into the season, the Mavericks pretty much are what we thought they were.
They’re on pace to win 47 or 48 games and positioned to claim one of the Western Conference’s last couple of playoff spots. It’s not satisfying for a franchise that had become accustomed to 50-win campaigns, but it’s a significant step forward from last season.
The question the Mavs front office, and to a certain extent coaches, work on answering every day is how they can take another big step forward and become a legitimate contender again. Not coincidentally, most of your questions are along the same lines.
Let’s get to them ...
@electriclight41 on Twitter: If Andrew Bynum becomes available, do you think the Mavs would risk taking a chance on him?
The Mavs kicked the tires on Bynum this summer and didn’t like what they saw with his knees or head. At the time, I thought he was worth a fairly low risk, but the Mavs have been proven right by Bynum’s act that basically got him banished from Cleveland.
The combination of bad knees and a worse attitude certainly doesn’t make Bynum, who averaged 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting only 42 percent from the floor in 24 games this season, appealing enough to give up any assets in a trade. It’s debatable whether it’d even be worth experimenting with the Mavs’ chemistry to add him on a minimum contract if he’s released.
@mayur_patel_91 on Twitter: Realistic chances of trading for Tyson Chandler if the Knicks keep doing bad?
Roughly about the same as the odds of the Mavs signing Lamar Odom. As far as I know, Chandler isn’t available. If the Knicks do decide to shop him, they’ll get a ton of offers for a big man who has proven he can be the finishing piece of a championship puzzle. Chandler has only one more season remaining on his deal, so it’s not like he’s locked into a contract that would scare away trade suitors.
@IAmClements on Twitter: What will Devin Harris's role be in his return, and whose minutes does this affect?
The plan is for Harris, who hopes to be ready to play at some point in January, to back up both guard spots. This will drastically reduce the minutes of rookies Shane Larkin and Gal Mekel. Ideally, it’d also allow Rick Carlisle to trim the minutes of Monta Ellis (team-high 36.9 per game) and Jose Calderon (31.4 per game).
@DGUNZ22 on Twitter: Is Chris Bosh the target for Mark Cuban next summer?
I seriously doubt Bosh signs with the Mavs this summer for several reasons. A few: 1) It’s far from a sure thing that he opts out of the last two years and $42.7 million of his deal with the Miami Heat. If he does, it’s likely to re-sign with Miami, unless LeBron James is leaving. 2) It’d be an odd fit to have Bosh playing with Nowitzki, considering they both like to operate offensively out of a lot of the same spots on the floor. 3) Bosh has made it clear in the past that he’d be concerned about the hassles of playing in his hometown.
Now that’s a name that might make a lot of sense for the Mavs, but it depends on how determined Detroit is to keep him. He’ll be a restricted free agent, so the Pistons will have the right to match any offer. They have a combined $17 million in salary coming off the books this summer in Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva, so the Pistons can give Monroe a nice contract without having any concern about getting into luxury-tax territory. It could come down to whether they feel like the Josh Smith-Monroe-Drummond front line is a good fit. If not, the Mavs should certainly pursue Monroe, although he’s not close to a max-contract player.
Parker (Dallas): What do you think the main reason is for the several big leads blown this year? Dominant first half last night and then a terrible third quarter.
Bad defensive teams blow a lot of leads. The Mavs are a bad defensive team.
@soopnan on Twitter: How can a guy like Make It Wayne Ellington contribute if he's never allowed to contribute?
Stay ready, to borrow one of Carlisle’s favorite phrases. Ellington is going to be a fringe rotation player, but he’s made a difference in a few games and will get more opportunities, sporadic as they may be. You can complain about the decision to give Jae Crowder minutes over Ellington if you want, but you should know that only Dirk Nowitzki has a better plus-minus that Crowder among the Mavs.
Jason (Dallas): What are the feelings inside the organization about Shane Larkin's play so far since it's clearly been a struggle? It's very early in his career, but do they still feel he can develop into a solid backup PG or could we be looking at another bad first-round pick?
Patience. Remember he’s a rookie who didn’t get to go through summer league or training camp. At this point in J.J. Barea's rookie season, you probably didn’t even know he was on the roster. Maybe Larkin would benefit from some D-League time, which is a possibility once Harris gets healthy.
Kadin (Plano): With the obvious need for one more playmaker to help the competing chances of the Mavs, do any trades look appealing to the Mavs or available for them to make a good deal?
The Mavs plan to acquire Devin Harris for free, hopefully within a few weeks. Don’t hold your breath looking for much help for the Mavs from the trade market this season.