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December 8, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Tim MacMahon

DC (Eagleville)

With the recent slump, is Howard considering making his return before than Christmas?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:07 PM)

The hope has always been that Howard would be back before Christmas. The team has never put a timetable on his return, but a source told ESPNDallas.com when he went back on the shelf that he could be out until the end of December. All indications are that he has been progressing well in his rehab, so there's no reason that he shouldn't be back sooner than that. But it's up to Howard. The doctors cleared him to play when he came back for a few games in November. He didn't have a setback. He just felt soreness and wasn't comfortable pushing through it in games. He'll be back when he decides he's ready. While he's out, Shawn Marion will continue to play through pain with his sprained ankle.

chris (carrollton)

do you think roddy's dnp the other night and possibly another dnp tonight, could mean roddy's on his way to the d-league? It seems the mgmt isn't ready to give him the back up PG job so i think he needs work at the pure point. If they are not sending him away for the greater good, we REALLY need him now!

Tim MacMahon
  (3:10 PM)

Carlisle and Co. definitely aren't ready to hand Beaubois the backup PG reins. I can't see that happening this season. Donnie Nelson has made it clear that D-League time is a viable option for Beaubois. That would give him a chance to run a team and play crunch-time minutes. But I can't see that happening until Howard and/or Ross return. Beaubois right now needs to work on the defensive end if he wants to get out of Carlisle's doghouse.

JB (Austin)

do you think the SW division will be competitive as the season progresses, with New Orleans and SA both seeming to be having down years?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:13 PM)

It's hard to envision New Orleans getting in the mix as far as fighting for a division title or a top-four playoff seed. But it's way, way too early to count the Spurs out. They've had injury issues with their top three players, and that could be something that continues due to the age of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. But if the Spurs get healthy, they can still be as good as anybody in the west other than the Lakers. Plus, the Mavs' 14-7 record is a little deceiving. They've piled up wins against poor competition. The Mavs have had a lot of injury issues, too, but they need to play better basketball to keep the Spurs from gaining ground once the schedule gets tougher.

Craig G. (Fairfield, California)

Hey Tim, any read on when Josh Howard is returning?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:14 PM)

See the first question. When Howard decides he's ready to play, he'll play. That ought to be sometime this month.

Dave (Dallas)

What is the long term answer to the center position in Dallas? Dampier gets hurt and is as soft as tissue paper.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:17 PM)

This is why the Magic matching the Mavs' midlevel offer for Marcin Gortat hurt. The Mavs might be better off with Drew Gooden this season, but Gortat could have been their starting center through Dirk's prime. Gooden is here on a one-year deal and the Mavs can only offer him a 12.5-percent raise. The better he plays, the more likely he leaves this summer. Dampier's in a contract year, although there is the possibility that he returns at a lower price. The Mavs will likely have to find a center in the midlevel free agent or trade markets. In other words, they're right back where they started before they targeted Gortat.

Trey (Dallas, TX)

Is there any truth to the rumor that Mavs will trade Kaman?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:19 PM)

I wouldn't rule that out. Kaman is a very good offensive center and has an outstanding relationship with Dirk from their time together on the German national team. But I wouldn't bet on it, either. He's had serious injury problems and has a lot of money left on his contract, plus he'd be a downgrade defensively.

Dave (Dallas)

Is Jason "The Great One" Kidd's time up yet? He is getting long in the tooth. Time for a textbook youth movement?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:21 PM)

Jason Kidd has played better this season than he has since being traded to Dallas. He's become an excellent spot-up 3-point shooter, can still run an offense and push the tempo via the pass and defends 2 guards well. The Mavs believe Kidd will age well, because of his big frame and game that doesn't rely much on athleticism. Based on the first quarter this season, it looks like they're right.

Mike Buckley (San Francisco)

Do you think Mark Cuban will go to the slate and put a full-court press on pursuing a MLB franchise, or will his effort get stuck in a vat of dough?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:23 PM)

Cuban put on the full-court press for the Cubs. That didn't pan out. He won't pursue another MLB team as aggressively, but he's more than willing to buy a team if it makes business sense. He refers to it as looking for the "right deal," which means a bargain. It's a long shot that he'll ever own a baseball team.

Roger (Walnut Creek)

Has Dampier been a disappointment since being with Dallas? He had some good games in Oakland, but the next night you might as well have had a dead corpse at center. Your thoughts?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:25 PM)

You won't get anybody at the AAC to admit this, but Dampier has definitely been a disappointment. When you give a guy coming off a 12/12 season a contract like that, you expect a double-double machine. He's never come close to averaging a double-double as a Maverick. His coaches and teammates point out that he's a great screener and their defensive backbone, but his production hasn't been worth the price.

Craig G. (Fairfield, California)

How do Mavs fans view Steve Nash? As a player they know they should have ponied up the cash for?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:27 PM)

I don't want to speak for MFFLs, but I don't see why they wouldn't have a great appreciation for Steve Nash. He played a huge role in getting this franchise out of the ditch and helping a certain lanky German dude find his way in Dallas. Nash didn't want to leave, but Phoenix offered him a deal that was far better than what Mark Cuban was willing to pay to keep him. He's given the Mavs fits since he returned to the Suns, but he's always been a class act.

Mike-C ((Austin))

Do you think the Mavericks can compete for title?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:29 PM)

They'd have to get a lot of breaks to beat the Lakers in the West. They might have to make a major trade, too. I think the Mavs have a decent chance to make the Western Conference finals, but the gap between the Lakers and the rest of the West is wide.

Zorro (Austin)

Is Cuban doing ok after the savage beating he absorbed last night?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:30 PM)

He might be mad at the four Mavs sitting ringside for waiting so long to come to his aid. We'll find out tonight while talking to him during his pregame Stairmaster workout ... if he can climb up there.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:31 PM)

OK, folks, we're going to wrap it up now. Appreciate all the questions. Join us on ESPNDallas.com tonight for a live chat during the Suns-Mavs game.