DALLAS – Rick Carlisle could stick with the kid only so long.
At some point, Rodrigue Beaubois had to earn his starting job. That didn’t happen during his abbreviated sophomore season. And he isn’t likely to get the chance again until next season, regardless of the severity of the foot sprain he suffered during Wednesday’s win over the Hornets.
Carlisle wouldn’t commit to continuing to use DeShawn Stevenson as the starting shooting guard, as was the case for most of the season while Beaubois slowly recovered from a broken foot and again in the regular-season finale. But it’s clear from listening to Carlisle and the team’s key veterans that it’s Stevenson’s job for the playoffs, while Beaubois will perhaps be a bit player off the bench.
“Things change,” Carlisle said. “And you’ve got to be judged by performance. I think the last time I said, ‘I’m sticking with this kid’ was over a week ago. Some things have changed in that period of time. That’s just the way it is.”
Actually, nothing changed for Roddy B. during that period of time. That’s the problem.
Beaubois’ struggles simply continued. The trend of foul trouble didn’t end. He didn’t find his offensive rhythm, averaging only 6.7 points on .368 shooting during the previous 10 games before being benched. The poor decision making didn’t improve. And Roddy B.’s fragile confidence, which Carlisle was harshly criticized for protecting by limiting Beaubois’ playing time as a rookie, plummeted.
I remained on the Stick with Roddy B. Bandwagon – not quite as catchy as last year’s Free Roddy B. campaign, huh? – because I believe the Mavs need a dynamic, creative, unpredictable scorer in the lineup to make a long playoff run. However, given the kid’s woes, it’s hard to argue that the Mavs’ chances of winning in the playoffs aren’t much better with Stevenson as a starter.
"He's so solid, man -- just defensive presence, understands our defensive scheme, being able to knock down open shots, he's not going to get out of his box, he's going to make the right pass, just that person on the court that's just solid,” center Tyson Chandler said. “We need more that."
The Mavs don’t have to wonder whether Stevenson, a 6-foot-5, 232-pounder who hit half his 3-point attempts in the first two months of the season, can fit in the starting five. They have ample evidence: Dallas is 38-16 with Stevenson as a starter this season, including a 36-9 mark when Dirk Nowitzki is healthy.
“It [sets] more of a tougher tone,” Nowitzki said of Stephenson as a starter. “I always liked him, all season long. When he was starting, when Roddy was out, we had a phenomenal run there in November and December.
“I’m a big supporter of D-Steve. He’s just a rugged 2 guard who can guard 1s, 2s and 3s, so he’s versatile. His shot was looking really good early in the season. If he can shoot the ball like that, he’s going to be an animal for us in the playoffs.”
The Mavs haven’t given up on Beaubois. They’ve just pulled the plug on him as a starter for the playoffs.
There was encouraging talk in the locker room about Beaubois’ ability to provide punch off the pine, but it’s probably wise not to get your hopes up. The Mavs don’t yet know whether he’ll be out an extended period due to the sprained foot. Plus, there aren’t many occasions the Mavs will be able to get away with playing Beaubois and sixth man Jason Terry together.
Nothing personal, kid, but it’s playoff time.