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Thursday, November 14, 2013
Opening Tip: Blair earning regular role?

By Tim MacMahon

DALLAS – DeJuan Blair could force coach Rick Carlisle to make some difficult decisions soon.

That’s a very good thing for the Dallas Mavericks.

DeJuan Blair, Bismark Biyombo
DeJuan Blair has been a pleasant surprise for the Mavericks.
There still isn’t a firm timetable for Brandan Wright’s return from a nondisplaced fracture in his left shoulder, but he’ll be ready in the not-too-distant future. When that happens, the Mavs will have a nice problem on their hands: two backup big men who merit significant minutes.

“Absolutely,” owner Mark Cuban said. “The good news is they’re different players. One’s a banger, long arms, where Brandan’s more precise, more of a finesse shot blocker and scorer. There’s few people in the league that can score as efficiently as Brandan can or block shots as well. There’s not a lot of guys who can bang like DeJuan can and muck up the lanes and stuff like that. And he’s a great pick-and-roll player.

“It’s going to be a good problem to have. I’m sure somebody will be upset along the way. But these guys are team guys, so that’s good news.”

Wright signed a two-year, $10 million contract this offseason, a deal he earned with his development last season. The high-flying, 6-foot-10 Wright is a high-efficiency scorer who averaged 11.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 24 minutes per game to help the Mavs finish with a 15-8 run to reach .500 last season.

The Mavs picked the wide-bodied, 6-foot-7 Blair off the scrap heap this summer, signing him to a one-year minimum contract after his tenure in San Antonio ended unceremoniously. With a bigger role than anticipated because of Wright’s injury, Blair has played like a man possessed so far this season.

Blair is averaging 8.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and unofficially a couple of bruises inflicted per game in 20.7 minutes off the bench behind starting center Samuel Dalembert. Only Dirk Nowitzki and Jae Crowder have better per-minute plus-minuses than Blair among the Mavs this season.


“Once again, he brought energy, a physical presence, the scoring and rebounding,” Carlisle said of Blair after a nine-point, 11-rebound, 24-minute outing in Tuesday night’s win over Washington. “We need to have him keep doing what he’s doing.”

If Blair keeps doing what he’s doing, Carlisle will have some tough calls to make with his rotation upon Wright’s return. Those are the kind of complications a coach welcomes.