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November 16, 2:30 PM ET
Mavs with Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan
  (2:29 PM)

Welcome to another edition of Mavs chat. Heckuva game last night at the AAC. It was pretty electric in the building. It didn't look good for the home team down by 10 with about 7 minutes to play, but they turned up the defensive heat again to hold down the Hornets. The players say they've bought into coach Rick Carlisle's constant defensive preachings. But, I've heard that before. The Mavs are practicing now before heading to New Orleans for Wednesday's rematch. We'll take this as close to 2 as possible.

Jeremy (Fort Worth)

Do you see Butler going right back to being a starter considering his struggles after he returns? The Mavs are 3-0 w/o him and Marion was very good in the first two games he was out.

Jeff Caplan
  (2:31 PM)

Jeremy, Also nice to see a fellow Fort Worthian on the chat. Yes, I do see Butler going back to the starting lineup. He's been a volume shooter so far and very inconsistent at that. Ultimately, I'm not sure I like the way he fits in here, but I think it's sort of playing with fire if you send him to the bench. Marion has gracefully accepted that role, even though you know he wants to start, same as Jet. I'm not sure how gracefully Caron accepts a bench role. Plus, remember, I think the Mavs will really be looking to deal him, so you want Caron to be able to show his full value, so he needs to start.

Rachel (Hattiesburg)

Hi Jeff! Can Chandler remain starter and possibly average 10/12 pts a game this year? Thanks!

Jeff Caplan
  (2:33 PM)

Rachel, hello...absolutely Chandler can remain the starter. He will remain the starter as long as he's on this team. He's given them great energy on and off the floor. The Mavs paid Brendan Haywood with the big contract, which might end up haunting them. Look at Haywood's stat line last night. He actually played slightly more minutes than Chandler because Chandler was in foul trouble and Haywood was scoreless with 1 rebound in like 24 minutes. 1 rebound! Are you kidding?!

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

How do you think that the Dallas Mavericks will do in 2010-2011 Season?

Jeff Caplan
  (2:35 PM)

Well Chris, you sure went with a general question. I think they are a fine regular season team. They are clearly better defensively with the addition of Tyson Chandler in the middle and the players say they are more committed to sticking with the defensive system. I see the Mavs as a top four team in the West. It will be interesting to see how the Hornets fare now that they have their first loss. As long as Jason Kidd's minutes remain about where they are, in the 32-34 range, I think that's great news for the Mavs as the season progresses.

nish (mesquite)

Is this great defence because of Chandler or the team buying into RC's philosophy?

Jeff Caplan
  (2:36 PM)

Nish, I think it's both. No doubt the 7-foot-1 Chandler is a refreshing dose of defense in the middle. He's long, athletic, active and energized. JJ Barea mentioned last night how he fires up the guys when they make a good defensive play or get stop because he'll scream or pump his fist or whatever. The Mavs have long been a very polite, docile group and Chandler mixes that up. But, I think the guys realize that they're not going to win anything without playing consistent defense. I think San Antonio really drummed that into their brain in last season's playoff series.

roddy (france or some island where they speak french)

are the expectations for my return too high? coach didnt play me much last season i only averaged around 12 minutes. Now with dirk and the whole team talking me up to everybody will i really be the missing link in making the mavs a real threat? french french french french french words.

Jeff Caplan
  (2:39 PM)

Roddy, great of you to jump on the chat and glad to hear you are finally out of that dran boot. We can only hope you live up to expectations. Come playoff time, the Mavs must have a penetrator other than JJ Barea. Beaubois is silky smooth, fast and he can shoot the long-distance J. Dirk indeed has talked you up, mostly after a few games where the offense really stagnated late in games and its obvious there's something missing. That's a problem I have with the Butler. He doesn't give you that aggressive penetrator. Roddy can add a dynamic that is clearly missing and really take the offense to a new level, especially when he's on the floor with Jason Kidd.

zach (dfw)

whats more surprising so far the mavs defense or their free throw shooting this season?

Jeff Caplan
  (2:41 PM)

Ha, Zach, good question. Last week I wrote a blog about how stunning it was that Dirk Nowitzki's free throw percentage was down from its usual perch of about 88 to 90 percent. He's at 86 percent now and that will likely keep going higher, but, yes, the Mavs' FT % of 74.9 is surprising. You're talking about one of the best FT shooting teams year in and year out. The funny thing is that the one guy who has been a horrible FT shooter his entire career, Tyson Chandler (61%), has been terrific at 83.9%, but it's been falling too since 90% the other day. Caron Butler is the biggest violator at just 66.7%. I suspect you'll see Dirk, Jet and Kidd continue to be very good at the line.

Fei (London, UK)

Hi Jeff. It's great to see Jet getting to such a good start, but it's a bit frustrating to still see our sixth-man being our second scoring option. Especially since we don't really have a valid third scoring option with Butler's inconsistency. Do we wait for Butler to get better? Hoping that Roddy will take over? (Which by the way will eat into Jet's minute). Basically where are going to get our slasher?,

Jeff Caplan
  (2:44 PM)

So, Fei, you want Jet to be the first scoring option ahead of Dirk? When Jet is on the floor with the second unit guys, he is the No. 1 option. He's No. 2 when Dirk is on the floor. One problem is Caron Butler takes too many shots. Some of those could go to Jet, who is shooting in the neighborhood of 46% from 3-point land for the season. Your slasher will come when Roddy returns, assuming he will get comfortable on that left foot he broke in August and not need a lot of time to regain his confidence. Last year, it took Manu Ginobili about half the season to really be comfortable and confident in making those whirling dervish drives that have come to define him. So we'll see on Roddy.

Trey (Austin)

I like what Stevenson gives us with the starting lineup. Is there any way he continues to get consistent minutes when first Butler and then Roddy come back?

Jeff Caplan
  (2:46 PM)

Trey, yes, DeShawn has really done a nice job starting at the 2-guard. He brings solid defense and is showing he can knock down the 3, which at one time during his career was considered his thing. I attribute his success to shaving his beard at the end of last season. Na, not really. When Roddy comes back, Rick Carlisle will have some tough choices to make. We all assume Roddy will be the starter at the 2-guard with Jet coming off the bench. So where DeShawn finds minutes I don't know. It's not like he was playing before Carlisle decided he had to have Jet's scoring coming off the bench.

Billy, OKC OK [via mobile]

I'm of the belief the team is better off without Butler jacking up shots like crazy with Dirk and Jet standing there. So starting line up is better with Marion, any hope Carlisle notices?

Jeff Caplan
  (2:48 PM)

Well, Billy, no doubt that Carlisle has noticed that Marion right now as a starter is really providing good movement in the halfcourt offense. Now, Marion started last year and averaged just 12 points a game and were those who were critical of him. I'm with you and believe that Caron's shot selection and decision making must improve, but I don't know if he can do that. I think he's too set in his ways and maybe thinks of himself as something he's not. He can be a valuable mid-range shooter in the offense, but he needs to make sure Dirk and Jet get enough shots up.

Steve Novak (from inside the locker room)

I am obviously a better scorer than Cardinal so why am I not getting any minutes? I know Cardinal is a bruiser, which coach likes, but is my defense or understading of the team's defense that bad?

Jeff Caplan
  (2:49 PM)

Hey Steve..one reason is you should be at practice right now. Dodging practice won't win you minutes. Seriously though, when was the last time you played defense? That's why Cardinal is getting minutes. he's physical, hard-nosed and all that stuff that coaches really like. And he's shown he can still bury the 3-pointer. Sure, Novak might hit a shot or two, but he's not going to give you the defense that Cardinal does. I think that's what Carlisle will tell you.

Bob (Behind you)

I think you need to reread Fei's question.

Jeff Caplan
  (2:51 PM)

Bob, always appreciate a good editor. OK, Fei, I see what you're saying. You don't want Jet to be your first or second scoring option. Right now I don't see anything wrong with him as a second option. Sure, he started 2-of-11 last night and he'll do that from time to time, but he's been money so far. Otherwise Butler is your option and when Roddy comes back, he's going to be a significant option. There's nothing more you can do at the moment.

Kevin (Dallas)

I've heard rumors (which could be totally false for all I know) about a swap which would bring in Iguodala and send out Caron/Pieces to make the numbers match. Would that even help the Mavs that much? I see them as basically the same player with Iggy just being younger and more athletic. Plus his contract is bad so the Mavs lose felxibility.

Jeff Caplan
  (2:53 PM)

Iguodala has long been rumored to the Mavs. But, go look at the money he is owed over about the next four years. It will floor you. With the CBA expiring this year and a hard cap possibly coming to the league, it would be hard to see the Mavs spending that type of dough on Iguodala, who I think gets overhyped. Roddy could solve all the two-guard issues as he progresses, but of course, the Mavs still seem fascinated with him at point guard. Not sure I am.

John (Dallas)

At what point does Carlisle have to start cutting Haywood's minutes and giving Mahinmi some PT instead?

Jeff Caplan
  (2:55 PM)

Well, John, his minutes had been cut to the tune of 15, 15 and 16 over a three-game stretch. They've gone back up over the last two games. Of course, he did have 17 boards against Philly, but then came back last night with one in like 24 minutes. Not good. The crazy thing is I think the Mavs signed him out of desperation, not wanting to be without any center. Then Charlotte nixed a deal with Toronto to send Chandler there and Chandler winds up in the Mavs' lap. In a perfect world, I think they'd prefer a combo of Chandler and Mahinmi, but they're in the real situation of being stuck with Haywood and having to part with Chandler.

Kelly Martinez (New York City)

Who do you think will be the Mavericks main player once Dirk and Jason Kidd are retired

Jeff Caplan
  (2:57 PM)

Kelly, the Dirk part of the question is irrelevant. He's got three more years after this one, so who knows what this team will look like then. Now, Kidd has one more year left which is why the Mavs want to groom Roddy Beaubois to be their next point guard. If he can't prove he can do that, they'd have to go to the free agent market or make a trade. They'd love to see New Orleans face having to trade Chris Paul next year for financial reasons and then swoop in. But, that's all speculation. First, we have to get past the CBA negotiations/possible lockout and see what the salary cap looks like on the other side. For all we know, this might be Kidd's final year.

Michael C. (Westport, CT)

Are the Mavs fans realistic about their team's chances of winning a title? Most people know their window has closed. Do they?

Jeff Caplan
  (2:59 PM)

Of course not, Michael. Mark Cuban admit defeat? Please. He has billboard plastered all over town, one of which is of him with a quote saying: "hell yes we can win the championship." So there you go. Hey, right now they're looking pretty good. It's a long season. The West is not great. Name me one team that really scares you outside of the Lakers? We'll see how the Jazz develop. The Spurs are off to a nice start, but Tim Duncan is clearly on the downturn. We'll see.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:01 PM)

OK everyone. I really appreciate all the questions. I've got to run to talk to the players as practice wraps up. Should be a good game tomorrow night from New Orleans and then it's back home Friday for Chicago, followed by a quick jaunt to Atlanta.We'll talk about it all next Tuesday at 1:30.Remember, espndallas.com for all your Mavs news.