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December 7, 3:00 PM ET
Mavs with Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan
  (2:59 PM)

Hello everyone and welcome back to Mavs chat. I apologize for missing last week, but I was way, way under the weather. Since we last chatted, the Mavs have rolled off eight in a row to get to nine straight and go for 10 tonight against Golden State. In fact, the last game the Mavs played since we chatted was in Atltanta, the first game of the win streak, and Jason Kidd told me today that one was the most critical. Check out the Mavs blog at espndallas.com to see why. OK, on with the chat...

mark (jersey)

how far do you thing the mavs can go this year? Their defense this year is off the charts.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:01 PM)

Hey Mark in Jersey. How's Avery and Devin? We'll see those guys on Thursday. Will be good to see Avery back in the building. If the Mavs continue to play defense off the charts, why can't they get to the West finals? They've already beaten OKC, San Antonio, Boston, New Orleans, Denver (and lost once to Denver), but point being is outside of the Lakers (and yes, keep them on a pedestal even as they stumble around) there is not a dominant team in the West. It is wide open for a team that is hot and plays sound defense. The Mavs are that right now so I think if you're talking the here and now, the Mavs are at the top of the list to get to the West finals.

Eric W. (Kandahar, Afghanistan)

Life long Mavericks fan currently serving in Afghanistan. Haven't got to see alot of games this year obviously, just highlights unfortunately.My question is this. I haven't got to see him play, but I just don't feel comfortable with Brian Cardinal as our only option if for some reason Marion or Butler gets hurt and Marion cant play backup PF. Is there anything you can see the Mavs doing to shore up that spot this season? Its really too bad they couldn't sign Al Harrington this offseason.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:04 PM)

Hello Eric and of course, thank you for your service, great to have you logged in. Yes, it is a shame that Al Harrington went to Denver and not the Mavs. I was in favor of signing him early on, but he made the right personal decision, more playing in Big D, plus with a full body of tats, he probably fits in more with the rugged Nuggets than the Mavs. As for Brian Cardinal, he is serviceable, but in case of injury to Caron or Shawn, you are right, Mavs will be in a bit of a lurch, especially the way those two guys are playing right now. There's not a lot the Mavs can do right now to shore up that spot. Eddie Najera would have been a nice fit in that limited role, but he's in Charlotte as part of the trade for Tyson Chandler. Any team that loses a key player is in a tough spot, so not sure the Mavs will worry about it til they have to.

khafanizm (iran)

how far can the mavs go?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:05 PM)

Wow, it's the all-Middle-East version of Mavs chat. I just answered this, but just thought I post it. Hopefully, you are really in Iran. Like I mentioned, if the Mavs keep this defensive disposition and Tyson Chandler stays healthy, the Mavs are as likely as anyone to challenge the Lakers.

wladimir (Santiago, Chile)

Hey jeff, what seems to be the deal with beaubois? When can we expect him back?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:07 PM)

Sticking with the international theme, We don't know when Roddy will be back. I talked to him today and he made one of his routine visits to the doc on Monday and he received no new clearance to begin more work. His limit is the elliptical machine and stationary bike. He still is not allowed to jump when he shoots during practices. He visits the doc in another nine days, so he's still weeks away from a return.

Jaime (Mexico)

Hi Jeff, am I crazy or what looks like Caron Butler is raising up his level, definitely he boosted up the Mavs in the third quarter and was a key factor thta Mavs were there in the game, so I don't know why Carlisle becnhed him, because we had the rythm in that quarter and as far as I see, he is assuming the idea of being that second scorer that Mavs need I like how he is playing plus shoot getting better, what do you think about it?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:09 PM)

Jaime, you are not crazy. Caron is playing much better of late. He got off to a horrible start shooting and then hurt his back. But, lately he's been able to put together one strong quarter a game it seems that really drives the team. He's had some big first quarters and now he seems to be the third quarter man. He's really accepting his role of less minutes than he's played in his career. I keep hearing what team guy Caron is, so that's encouraging and right now he and Shawn Marion are really a nice combo.

Jace (Fort Worth)

Hey Caplan what small moves do you see the mavs making if no Carmelo Anthony caliber type deal is made they have a handful of trade exceptions I would like to have better depth at the power foward position and point guard position perhaps Daniel "Boobie" Gibson what do you think

Jeff Caplan
  (3:12 PM)

Jace, what's up? yes, more depth at power forward would be nice, however, Brian Cardinal has done a nice job in his limited time. Carlisle likes him because he's not afraid of playing defense or plunking somebody. Plus, the guy can bury a 3-pointer or two. Haven't looked much at Gibson, but he's, I think, more a shooter than point guard. J.J. is doing a nice job for this team with his penetrations and we still have to wait and see what Roddy B will be like once he returns.

Jarod Florence (Texas)

Jeff, what is the scoop on Iggy? Caron Butler has been playing out of his head lately but if it were him or Igoudala I'd have to say pursue the trade. Iggy is the lane-driving, rim-wrecking, force the Mavs have needed in the playoffs for years.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:13 PM)

Jarod...and here it is, the weekly question about Iguodala. There is no scoop. His contract is ridiculous and is he really the lane-driving, rim-wrecking force you say he is. I don't know. Maybe on a team like the Mavs he can be. I don't think he's worth the price tag.

Neil (College Station)

It seems to me that Caron Butler just doesn't really fit in with the Mavs. He's been better of late, but still not great. I am constantly worried he's gonna jack up a stupid shot. That being said, could you see us trading him soon rather than closer to the trade deadline? Or not at all?Thanks

Jeff Caplan
  (3:15 PM)

Neil, Butler is playing better and he's not really jacking up shots as he did in the first week or so of the season. If he stays within the concept of the offense, he can very good. I think he's starting to mix in a drive or two with his step-back and jab-step jumper. I don't think the Mavs will trade him sooner. For one, Roddy B is still out and they need Caron's scoring. If they do trade him, I think it will come closer to the deadline when, I think, teams will be more desperate to land a player for the stretch drive.

Kevin (Dallas)

Any idea on what exactly happened during Roddy's "set back"? Based on how long he's been recovering since, it sounds like he straight up re-broke it.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:16 PM)

Kevin, the Mavs have never said he re-broke it and they probably never will because that would just be straight-up embarrassing. But, yes, it has been a long, long time. And having him go back in the boot seemed to be a sign that a re-break was probably what happened. It doesn't really matter now. He's still a couple weeks away from even practicing it sounds like so it might be the New Year before he's playing again.

G (Dallas)

How is Haywood handling being #2 center and the amount of playing time he's getting?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:18 PM)

Well, G, I think lately he's handling it better. He probably had his best week or so as a Mav, which is coming off a one-game suspension at San Antonio. Tyson Chandler is clearly the more impactful player, but Haywood can still be very important backing up Chandler. Few teams have a solid 7-footer coming off the bench and it allows the Mavs to always protect the rim. If he can keep his attitude straight, take criticism, fulfill his role and enjoy his big contract, he should be fine.

Kevin_Layne (The present...)

Any chance Mark and Donnie decide to just stand pat with this team and not make any big changes at the trade deadline. I really like this team's chemistry.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:20 PM)

Yes. I mean look, if the team keeps rolling, and I don't mean win every game, they're going to lose here at some point, but if they've got a really good thing going, good chemistry, the defense is rocking, etc. etc., I think it would be difficult for even Mark Cuban to go make a trade just because he has expiring contracts. I mean, if everything is great maybe they try to re-sign Caron instead of trade him. There is so much uncertainty ahead with the CBA expiring, but both Butler and Chandler will be free agents. You know they want Chandler back, but Caron I'm not so sure about. But, again, if this team is hot, why risk it by changing the roster again?

Rohde (Eglin Afb,FL)

So now that tyson chandler has mark cuban scrambling to try and find a to keep him signed to this team what other trade chips does dallas have

Jeff Caplan
  (3:21 PM)

Rhode, as just explained, Caron Butler has a $10.6 or $10.8 million expiring contract. DeShawn Stevenson is at $4 mil and Barea is in his last year of smaller contract, but still one that can be thrown into a deal to make the money work.

Chris (Dallas)

Jeff,Who do you think the Mavs need to focus on shutting down defensively to have a good chance tonight? Should their focus be more on Ellis or Curry? Both can light it up any night of the week.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:23 PM)

Chris, I think this is the first time anyone has actually asked about the actual game. Thank you. Should be a fun one tonight. Monta Ellis can score like crazy and Stephen Curry is fun to watch. Last year, the Warriors came here with 6 healthy bodies and won 111-103 so the Mavs can't just assume they'll win this one. Ellis is the obvious guy to stop. He scored 37 I believe in that game I just referenced and he can light it up from downtown. It will be interesting to see how much zone defense the Mavs play in this one.

Dominique Jones (Nancy Lieberman's office)

I am having trouble finishing at the rim with the bigger stronger NBA players. Will I become a contributing player for the Mavericks at some point in my career?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:24 PM)

Dominique, hang in there buddy, work hard in the D-League and you'll get your chance. Not a lot of room for playing time on this roster right now, but you are young. So get better, stay positive and you'll bet your shot.

Ray (Dallas)

Is it a concern that during this 9 game winning streak, Jason Terry still really hasn't came out of his shooting slump?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:26 PM)

Ray,Glad you've also noticed that Jason Terry is struggling with his shot after getting off to a torrid start in which he was averaging nearly 20 a game. He's at 16 ppg right now which I think is just fine, but he needs to keep his shooting percentage high. He can't consistently go 3-10 or 4-11 as he has. It is a concern because he's coming off a poor shooting season and consecutive poor shooting postseasons. It's definitely something to watch. Terry is now 33 I believe and he's doing more game-day weightlifting than in the past to strengthen his legs, but, yes, keep an eye on him. Terry has still been a darn good fourth-quarter scorer this season.

James (Dallas)

Even though the Hornets got off to a great start, they seem to be struggling a little bit now. Do you see them or San Antonio being the toughest competition in the division, as an injury or two to SA could really hurt their chances with that aging team.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:28 PM)

James, the Hornets have come back to Earth since that 8-0 start. I definitely see the Spurs as the bigger threat. Hey, an injury or two to any team can seriously hurt their chances. What if the Mavs lost Kidd and Marion, or pick your combination, it wouldn't be good. The Spurs are playing a different style now that Duncan's offense is slowing down. They play at a faster pace, spread the floor and really shoot the 3. I don't think they have a great bench, but what they do have that the Mavs don't is two guys -- Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili -- that can consistently get to the rim and they complement that critical asset with excellent outside shooting.

Richard (Dallas)

Any chance McCants makes it up to the Mavs if he plays well in the D league and the Mavs suffer a few injuries?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:30 PM)

Richard, Yes. The Mavs can call him up if they want. Mark Cuban said the other day that he has a long way to go before that would happen. In fact, check the stats on the Texas Legends, and McCants is working his way up the ladder on that team. But, he is a guy that perhaps later in the season could come to the Mavs. I think a lot of people still believe he can be a productive pro. It's more or less up to him.

Joe Miranda (Dallas)

Do you think Jose Juan Berrea is a viable option for starting point guard in the not so distant future?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:31 PM)

Joe, the short answer, no pun intended, is no. I think JJ has made himself into a really nice backup -- despite what critics might say -- but I don't think he has the size or the outside shot to be a starter in the NBA. That's why the Mavs have seemed somewhat desperate to turn Roddy Beaubois into a point guard. They seem him as the eventual in-house replacement for Jason Kidd.

MR. B (Israel)

i didn't like the way the Mavericks played during the first two years with Rick C, but this yea i feel like they are really getting into his concept.. why?/

Jeff Caplan
  (3:33 PM)

Good question Mr. B, as the international flavor rolls on...I think there's been a real nice meshing this year between Carlisle, who I think is more open with the players this season and just knows the players better and the players know him. I think you've got a veteran team with guys who have never won a title and they'r buying into the defensive concept and buying into the team concept as the only road to success.

Jared (Greensboro)

Just a heads up really, if the Mavs win tonight they will be one game under .500 for their entire existance. So the game Thursday versus Avery & Devin will be to get to .500 for the franchise's existance, pretty cool, huh?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:34 PM)

Jared,Excellent research work. Send your resume to ESPN Stats & Info. I did not know that. I will have to check that out. The Mavs have made up a lot of ground since the dark days in the 1990s.

DWill (at home getting ready for the Big 3)

Do I really want to come back home and play in 2012, take the lucrative extension, or go find my own Big 3? And will the Dirk's even have the cap room if I do?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:35 PM)

DWill, I don't know do you? You've got a nice thing going in Utah and the Jazz have Al Jefferson under contract for a long time to come. No one knows what the cap room will look like in 2012 because the CBA expires after this season and the owners are determined to get a hard cap moving forward. So we have no idea what the market will be beyond right now. It will be interesting that is for sure.

Jesse (Dallas)

Have the Mavs ever been number one in the power rankings from Marc Stein? Or even number 4 in Hollinger's? (Never thought I'd see that day...)

Jeff Caplan
  (3:37 PM)

Jesse, Not sure, but obviously they are now. And they deserve it. Even though the Spurs still lead them by one game, San Antone didn't have a great two week period with two huge comebacks against Minnesota and a loss to the Clippers.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:38 PM)

OK, everybody, that's that. Hope it was a productive session for you. Enjoy the games this week and meet me back here in a week. Again, please let your friends know that espndallas.com is here and here to stay. You find more constantly updated coverage of the Mavs anywhere. Take the challenge. Thanks again!