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January 12, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Tim MacMahon

Tim MacMahon
  (3:00 PM)

Welcome to this week's Mavs chat. Thanks for joining me. Got a bit of bad news from the AAC: Erick Dampier's knee is acting up again, so his status for Wednesday night's game against the Lakers is in doubt. You might recall that Andrew Bynum went 8-of-8 from the floor in LA's recent rout of the Dampless Mavs. Tim Thomas (achilles) could also be unavailable. Check out ESPNDallas.com for more from Jeff Caplan on the Mavs' injury situation.

Byron (Dallas)

What is the thinking behind the Najera move? Did it free up some money for the Mavs or was it to gain a little more veteran depth at the foward position?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:04 PM)

This was a cost-cutting move -- saving Mark Cuban almost $5 million in salary and luxury tax -- that didn't affect the Mavericks' roster. I do not believe it was done to free up money for a future trade of impact. My educated hunch is that the Mavs won't alter their rotation before the trade deadline. They're second in the West despite all sorts of injuries and want to give this core group a chance to get healthy and jell. As is always the case, though, the Mavs will be willing to listen to offers. As far as Najera's role here, he'll move into Kris Humprhies seat pretty far down the bench. Najera has back issues and probably isn't ready to play anyway. The Mavs know he's a good guy who won't disrupt team chemistry, which is a big reason they were comfortable bringing him back to Dallas.

AC (Dallas)

What do you think Dirk's chances are at nabbing another MVP this year and do you think that they have a legitamate shot at going to the Finals this year or do you think the Lakers are too much too much for DAL to handle?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:07 PM)

ESPN.com's John Hollinger has an interesting column today that makes the case that the Lakers aren't as clear-cut favorites as most folks believe. Hollinger, who crunches a bunch of numbers to come up with these theories, thinks several West teams (including the Mavs) could contend with the Lakers. Personally, I have a hard time seeing anybody but the Lakers coming out of the West unless Kobe Bryant or Pau Gasol gets injured during the playoffs. As far as Dirk, he's having a spectacular season and will be in MVP conversations, but that's an award that LeBron and Kobe are likely to pass back and forth for years to come.

Mavs Maniac (Dallas)

Why does Rick Carlisle continue to use J.J. Barea? The kid is obviously a defensive liability, and frankly despite his 20-point outbursts once in a blue moon he isn't that good offensively. I see him drive to the paint consistently but the percentage in which he actually finishes is low, add to the fact that when he does drive he typically looks to score instead of pass.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:09 PM)

I don't have a good answer for you. I wrote last week that it seemed like time for the JJ Barea-as-starter experiment to end. (Of course, Rick Carlisle never asked for my advice.) Barea has really struggled since opponents have adjusted the way they play him on the pick-and-roll. At some point, Josh Howard will reclaim his spot in the starting lineup. That ought to be soon.

Gabriel Wigington (plano,tx)

I know Najera is a gritty energy role player. How many minutes would you play him each game? If the playoffs started today, who would you start at SG: Barea or Josh Howard? Gooden or Damp at center?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:10 PM)

Najera will be a DNP-coach's decision most nights. Dampier has earned the starting center job with his performance. Howard will be the starting shooting guard; it's a matter of when Carlisle decides the timing is right to make that move.

Kevin (Washington, DC)

Tim, We've mostly lost and/or struggled in the second game of back-to-back games this season. Concerned? Who cares when the playoffs come and there's a day or more of rest? Not mentally "tough" enough?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:13 PM)

According to my quick calculations, the Mavs are 5-6 on the second night of back-to-backs. A lot of NBA teams would be pleased with that record. Not sure about questioning the mental toughness of a team that has pulled off several impressive comebacks, most recently erasing a double-figure deficit in the fourth quarter in San Antonio. The Mavs are a veteran team, which means they have a lot of old legs that don't bounce back that well in 24 hours. But, as you mentioned, it's a nonfactor come playoff time.

Jeremy (Fort Worth)

What's going on with Howard? Is he really injured again or is their something else going on behind the scenes. He can't seem to stay healthy for more than a few games.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:16 PM)

This recent deal appears to be a one-game thing. He sat out Sunday with a thigh contusion and practiced the last two days. Howard's relationship with Carlisle has been strained in the past, but he should appreciate the way Carlisle has treated him with caution this season. I don't believe there's any major trouble brewing beneath the surface there. Howard has been playing hard, which tends to be the best way to judge his moods.

Matt (Arlington )

Is there any other moves that you think the Mavs will make before the trade deadline? It seems to me that Josh Howard will be on the trading block if he is healthy.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:17 PM)

There are several questions like this one. I've been told that the Mavs don't intend to shop Howard. I've been told they want to keep their core together. Then again, I've been lied to before on trade-related matters.

David (Dallas)

Lebron has stated on more than one occasion that he loves playing in Dallas. He respects and likes playing w J Kidd as shown during the Olympic games. Dirk is willing to take a paycut to bring someone of his caliber to Dallas, and the State of Texas doesn't have a state tax. Is this enough to bring LBJ to Dallas, and what are the chances this happens? You know the Cubes has something up his sleeve...

Tim MacMahon
  (3:18 PM)

A source said there is a .000000001 chance of LeBron landing in Dallas. My reply: "So there's a chance, huh?"

Jon (Tyler, Tx)

Any reason to think that Wednesday's game will have a better result than the last time the Mavs faced the Lakers? Other than Staples vs AA?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:20 PM)

Well, the Mavs won by double digits in their previous meeting with the Lakers this season. I'd be shocked if the Mavs let the Lakers win by 35 again, but beating LA will be an awfully difficult task if Erick Dampier isn't available to bang with Andrew Bynum.

Merrick (College Station)

Question of the year: Who do the Mavs have the best chance of acquiring for the 2010 free agent summer? Are there any potential trade targets for us? Will the Mavs try to go after Martin Gortat after the season.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:22 PM)

Joe Johnson is the guy that tops my list, but the likelihood of him leaving Atlanta lessens with every win by the young Hawks. I will say this, though: The Mavs are 25-12 and second in the West. Why the rush to get to this summer? Let's enjoy this season.

Leo (Dallas Texas)

Do you think well keep Dampier Next Year or they might look for a future Center?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:24 PM)

That's the biggest issue that faces the Mavs next summer. And that's why the Magic matching the offer to Marcin Gortat hurt. He was the center of the future. The Mavs won't bring Dampier back for the final season of his deal because of the big salary. But I could see them trading or releasing him and re-signing him to a significantly smaller salary. That'd be a wise move if he's the best available big man.

Byron (Dallas)

Besides the few rumblings about Bosh maybe coming to town, who else do you see the Mavs possibly going after for a big man of the future that will help push this team over the edge, cause I can't really think of many options.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:25 PM)

Me, neither. There are decent big men that the Mavs could have, but they'd come with contracts their current teams would be thrilled to get off their hands.

David (Dallas)

Roddy B seems to have the same upside as Barea minus the Defensive liability... why not try to pkg barea w say howard to bring a decent upgrade in here, and play Roddy B more.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:28 PM)

There is clearly a trust issue between the coaching staff and Roddy Beaubois, meaning the coaches don't think the rookie is ready to play significant minutes. However, he did perform well when he got a chance Friday night against the Spurs. As far as dealing Barea, if the Mavs make a significant trade, it's likely that he would be included. He's a proven contributor who comes at a reasonable price ($1.8 million team option for next season). Teams ask about him often.

Andrew (Coppell)

I've watched a lot of mavericks basketball and the one thing I can't understand is why does Jason Kidd repeatedly pass up wide open layups when he drives to the basket just to pass the ball out to the perimeter. I just think he is afraid of missing. Your thoughts?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:31 PM)

Ah, one of the great mysteries for MFFLs. The fact is that Kidd, never a great leaper, isn't a very good finisher. He hits only 58.3 percent of his shots at the rim this season, according to hoopdata.com. And that's significantly better than recent seasons. Of course, that percentage would be higher probably if he didn't pass up open layups.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:32 PM)

That'll be it for today. Thanks for all the questions. Join us on ESPNDallas.com for live coverage of Lakers-Mavs.