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Sunday, December 11, 2011
With one roster spot, a backup PG or C?

By Jeff Caplan

The Dallas Mavericks acted swiftly Saturday night to scoop up Lamar Odom, and Vince Carter is expected to sign perhaps as early as later today. It would leave one spot vacant on the 15-man roster with the obvious positions of need being a backup point guard and a backup center.

Before the Odom deal sparked from the ashes of the collapsed Chris Paul deal, Dallas had sought to use the trade exception it acquired on Saturday for Sacramento Kings free agent center Samuel Dalembert. That, obviously will not happen (Dallas used the trade exception to nab Odom), which leaves the Mavs with the center tandem of Brendan Haywood, an unspectacular, but solid career starter until last season, and Ian Mahinmi, a fourth-year developing player that has never been more than a third-stringer.

The additions of lanky, 6-foot-10 power forward Brandan Wright, who coach Rick Carlisle said Saturday he views more as a center than a power forward, will presumably battle Mahinmi for minutes. The 6-10 Odom, who has averaged 8.9 rebounds over his 12 seasons, will provide help on the boards at either forward position. Still, Dallas could be on the look out for another big body.

However, trumping a backup center could be a veteran point guard to play behind Jason Kidd. With the departure of J.J. Barea, who has yet to sign with another team, but is reportedly still in play to land in New York, Dallas desperately needs a dependable hand behind Kidd, who turns 39 in March.

The plan heading into the season was to continue to reduce Kidd's minutes. He dropped from 36 a game in 2009-10 to closer to 33 last season in large part because of Barea's continued improvement. This season's shortened and compacted 66-game schedule over 123 days will make pacing Kidd mandatory.

Jason Terry likely will see minutes at the point. Youngsters Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones are obvious candidates to win the job on a consistent, Barea-like basis.

After Beaubois' successful rookie season, the plan was to fully convert the 6-foot-2 shooting guard into a point guard. Injuries last season slowed the process and he has not appeared comfortable in the short stints in which he has played the position. Jones spent time in the D-League last season.

Here's a look at the 14 players on the Mavs' roster, including Odom and Carter, who could sign a deal Sunday.

PG: Jason Kidd, Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominique Jones

SG: Vince Carter, Rudy Fernandez, Jason Terry

SF: Lamar Odom, Shawn Marion, Corey Brewer

PF: Dirk Nowitzki, Brandan Wright, Brian Cardinal

C: Brendan Haywood, Ian Mahinmi