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Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Mavs mailbag: Is fifth seed within reach?

By Tim MacMahon

Mavs
With Portland struggling and LaMarcus Aldridge hurt, can the Mavericks climb to the No. 5 seed?

The Mavericks have won five of six, so the sunshine is pumping in the mailbag. On to the questions ...

With Portland struggling and LaMarcus Aldridge hurt, can the Mavs get as high as the 5th seed? -- @ParkerAllen41 on Twitter

Well, I gave up on the Mavs’ chances to get the sixth seed after they got blown out by Golden State last week, so maybe I’m the wrong guy to ask. Looking at the standings now, you can’t count out the Mavs moving up a spot or two. They’re only a game behind the Warriors, who are the Mavs’ final foe in this marathon homestand, and two and a half games behind Portland.

However, even with Aldridge’s return from a lower back contusion still at least a game or two away, I’d be stunned if the Mavs catch the Trail Blazers. The schedule is pretty kind the rest of the way for the Blazers, who play eight sub-.500 teams in the final 15 games.

Golden State plays eight sub-.500 foes in their final 14 games, so they’ve got a friendly schedule down the stretch, too.

My crystal ball still has the Mavs fighting with the Memphis Grizzlies for the seventh seed.

If the Mavs somehow advance in the playoffs and cause a few upsets along the way, how much of an impact will that have on their offseason decision making? Let's say they were to reach the conference finals. -- Jake (Philadelphia)

Man, this is a mighty optimistic mailbag. No, I don’t think a nice playoff run would change the Mavs’ offseason thought process much, if at all. No matter what, the Mavs will have a lot of cap space and will aggressively attempt to upgrade the roster.

Dirk Nowitzki has committed to re-sign and take a “significant pay cut” from his $22.7 million salary. The goal is to give him the best possible chance of competing for another championship during his golden years. I don’t see the Mavs’ front office fooling itself into thinking the roster doesn’t need major tinkering because an old team made a surprising playoff run.

One thing a playoff run might affect is Devin Harris’ market value. He’ll be a free agent again this summer, and the Mavs obviously have interest in him returning. The question is how much they’re willing to pay. The three-year, $9-plus-million deal they agreed to before discovering he needed toe surgery sounds awfully good right now, at least to the Mavs. If Harris performs in the playoffs like he has lately, he might be able to get more money.

Is there a realistic chance for Vince Carter to win Sixth Man of the Year this season? If so, what would that represent to his legacy? -- @fabio_torres on Twitter

I think the Clippers’ Jamal Crawford wrapped up the award by getting hurt earlier this month. Sounds strange, but here’s the logic: The only way that Crawford wasn’t going to be the clear favorite was if he was ineligible for the sixth man award because he started more often than he came off the bench.

That was a strong possibility with Crawford in the starting lineup before he strained his calf earlier this month, but it’s not going to happen now.

A Sixth Man of the Year honor would be a nice addition to Carter’s trophy case, but he doesn’t need it to bolster his case to be in the Hall of Fame. He’ll have a ceremony in Springfield. Carter does take great pride in even being mentioned in Sixth Man of the Year conversations, because he’s an eight-time All-Star who has adapted over time and proven he can be a valuable contributor as a 37-year-old.

Why hasn't more attention been paid to Jose Calderon's amazing 3-point shooting season? According to Basketball Reference, only 10 players ever have shot more 3-point attempts at higher rates. If he maintains his current FGAs per game (5.4 3PA/game) and current percentage (.449) for the rest of the season, there will only be two better performances in NBA history: Stephen Curry last season (.453 on 600 attempts) and Glen Rice in 96-97 (.470 on 440 attempts). -- Nick (Dallas)

You left out Kyle Korver, who has averaged 5.5 3-point attempts per game and knocking ‘em down at a .488 clip this season. And we can quibble with how much to value volume when discussing the best 3-point shooting seasons in NBA history. But there’s no question that Calderon is an elite 3-point shooter. The dude did lead the league in 3-point percentage (.461) last season, so this is no great surprise. It’d get more attention if Calderon was an elite scorer, but he’s just a good role player.

Has this season proved that our roster is only missing a good, defensive-minded center? -- Andy (Denton)

I wouldn’t say that. My take is that the Mavs are a superstar away from being a legitimate title contender again. The position doesn’t matter.