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February 8, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan
  (3:00 PM)

Welcome back to the Wednesday edition of Mavs chat. Strange past week, big week ahead starting tonight at ailing Denver.Let's get to your questions...

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

How will the Dallas Mavericks do after the All-Star Break?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:01 PM)

Well, Chris, as I wrote today ... http://espn.go.com/dallas/nba/story/_/id/7552190/ailing-dallas-mavericks-face-15-day-defining-stretch...I don't think we know what to make of this team right now, 25 games in..after the all-star break is going to be determined by how healthy the team is, starting with Dirk and Kidd. If those guys are up to speed and ready to roll, it could be a good run.

Eric (Abilene)

When Dallas was playing it's best this year they were getting 16-24 easy points from the center spot. What happened to that?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:04 PM)

Eric, I considered the higher-than-expected point production from the center position to be gravy. I did not expect them to keep up that pace. Haywood mostly is going to score less than 10 points. Ian and Brandan Wright are capable of scoring more from time to time, but really those guys aren't asked to score much. I will say that I am surprised how often the ball does funnel into all 3 centers this season. If the Mavs get 16-24 points a game as you say, they're chances of winning those games are very high.

Eric (Abilene)

We sure haven't seen Roddy attack the basket like he did in his rookie year. Bad foot or bad psyche? Please don't say a little of both.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:06 PM)

Well, it's hard to say. I thought both were much improved here of late. I think the foot is fine, but I also think Roddy has a hard time when things don't go so well. I think he becomes fearful of making mistakes instead of making plays. As for attacking the basket, nearly 25 percent of his shots come at the bucket and close to 30 percent from in the lane, so he's taking a good number of shots within the paint. He's just not making many of them.

Frank (Dallas)

If Mark Cubes and Brendan Haywood both shoot 100 free throws who makes more?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:07 PM)

Frank, Can't believe I'm going to say this, but I'm going with Cubes. Mavs free throw coach Gary Boren is not getting his message across this season. The Mavs rank like 19th in the league in FT percentage. This is a team that is typically top 5. Haywood, Mahinmi and Odom are the top offenders.

Joe (Dallas)

Do you think the Mavs made a mistake by not making a better offer to LIN-Sanity 2 summers ago. Some would argue he was the best player on the Mav's summer league team that had 2 current mavs on the squad.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:09 PM)

No, Joe, I don't. Their plan was to sign him to play for the D-League legends. Other teams came harder with larger offers to play in the league. Golden State went for the local-boy angle and smart marketing with the huge Asian community out there. When they waived him, Houston didn't keep him long. He's had two really fun games for NY. This pace won't last, but he might be able to bring some stability there. He is a smart,savvy player no doubt, and he outplayed Roddy and Dominique Jones 2 summers ago in Vegas. I was there and saw it with my own eyes.

John (Dallas)

What will Carlisle do with Wright's minutes after JET came out and supported more playing time? Ride the hot hand between Wright and Mahinmi? Thank you.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:12 PM)

Joe, Maybe Wright's big minutes in two of the last three games is because of Terry's lobbying. Actually, I think Carlisle is playing the hot hand. Mahinmi has slumped over the last 6 games after a great start and Wright has earned more minutes with encouraging play in short stints. It will be interesting to see the direction Carlisle goes tonight against the Nuggets and especially Friday at Minny, which really has some nice low-post players on their squad.

Nick Cook (Dallas TX)

Lamar Odom just isn't going to come around, is he?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:16 PM)

Nick, man, that is a good question. He's certainly not showing any signs of coming around. He had that 19 point game not long ago, but has done nothing since except lower his FG and FT percentages. He still seems to have no spring in his leagues. As my colleague Tim MacMahon likes to say, Odom is 6-10 and still does not have a dunk this season. But, we know he's been swatted numerous times taking the ball to the rim. He gets there and just doesn't seem capable of getting up. It's really hurting the Mavs, too, who could be so much more potent if he was averaging 14 points instead of 7 off the bench.

Jaime (Mexico)

Hi Jeff hope you are ok. I don't know why people put a lot of pressure on Roddy B. I know he has talent however he played bad in the last three games and everyone is saying he is going to be tghe same old Roddy, that is not fair since most of Mavs players have had their slumps.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:19 PM)

Hey Jaime, I appreciate what you are saying, but at some point Roddy has to show some consistency. He had the three really nice games, but has been awful since. The most concerning thing is that his shot is just off. Forget about penetrating and learning how to play point guard, his shot is way, way off. He put up two airballs from the lane against Indiana on Friday. The next night he took just two shots. He's a scorer and the team needs him to score whether he's playing PG or SG. I think he recoils when things don't go well. Obviously, Carlisle is hard on him and I don't know if Roddy gets overwhelmed with everything he's supposed to be doing out there or what, but when things go south, they really go south. Like Ian, it will be interesting to see how well he plays and how many minutes it affords him. The Mavs need Beaubois with Kidd still out.

jason (new london)

it looks like after letting tyson and deshawn walk that mark and donnie have doomed this team to the lottery this season, and if nothing happens this summer they could be lottery bound, i have been a diehard mavs fan for years even when 15 wins was a good season, will letting tyson and deshawn walk go down as the worst move in franchise history.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:23 PM)

Now hold on Jason, a week ago after a 3-game win streak, the Mavs were being lauded for being 14-8 with Nowitzki slumping and people were saying just wait til Dirk's back and Odom starts playing better and Kidd is healthy. I'm not ready to relegate this team to lottery status. Having said that, I think some of the early wins and the strong play from the center position, made people prematurely forget about what Tyson Chandler meant to this team, as well as Stevenson from a defensive standpoint. There are no great teams in the West, but there are more good teams this season than in recent memory. So any extended losing streak, for instance, if Dallas goes 3-6 on this 9-game run to the All-Star break, it could spell trouble. We'll see. Lots of tough games over the next 2 weeks. Check out my column from today on the espndallas.com home page.

Joseph (Charlottesville, VA)

I know one regular season game doesn't make a break a season, but with the way things have gone in the last 3, and then having time to rest and regroup, how big of a game is this for the Mavs?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:26 PM)

Joseph, I think this is a really big game. Denver is beat up and on a 3-game skid, too. Mavs have been a good team on the road and have typically risen to the challenge when things get tough. After this game, they go to Minny, then home for Portland and LA Clippers. Nothing's easy. A four-game skid would be outdo the three-game skid to start the season. We can look at Kidd's absence all we want, but there's other issues right now that need to be sorted out. Marion and Terry, two guys that have slumped the last two games, need to be big players tonight.

Bryan(Springdale, AR) [via mobile]

Why don't players invest in safe investments early in their careers so they can take cheaper contracts to play with contenders in their twilight? I'm all about getting paid, but I hate seeing vets go to bad or decent teams just to get one last paycheck...what happened to the competitive spirit?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:28 PM)

Bryan, not really sure who you might be referencing. A guy like Shane Battier did just as you said to play with the Heat. Vince Carter is getting $3 mil this season to play with the Mavs. I think guys take the best contract they can get early in their careers, you never know when an injury might ruin your earning potential. But, I think plenty of guys take less money later in their careers to go play for a title.

Joseph (Charlottesville, VA)

If Jason Kidd misses half of the games this season, are the Mavs a playoff team?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:30 PM)

Well, he's missed nine games so far this season and Dallas is 6-3 in those games. If he misses half, it might be very difficult to get in. I suspect he'll be back by Saturday, but that is only a guess.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:31 PM)

OK, that was the fastest half-hour in sports. Good questions today. Remember, Mavs play by play voice Chuck Cooperstein takes your questions tomorrow. Enjoy the game tonight.It will be very interesting to see the team's record at this time next week and the topics that come with it.For all your Mavs coverage, nobody does it better or provides more than espndallas.com. Check out our blogs for constantly updated info.And you can follow me on twitter at espn_caplan.Have a good weeek.