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February 22, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan
  (3:00 PM)

Welcome back sports fans. Well, here we are at the halfway point of the season and the LA Lakers are in town. I'm not a fan of this version of the Lake Show. And I'm not sure Kobe is either. The Mavs are looking to head into the All-Star break winning of eight of nine. Will they? Let's chat...

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

What Former Dallas Mavericks Players are Hall of Famers?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:01 PM)

Chris, since I skipped this exact question last week, I'll answer it this week: None.But, down the road there will be two: Dirk and Kidd.

The Sheehan (Addison)

Any chance we trade Marion before the end of the season? He has been our best player this year but worry about off loading the salary of both him and haywood this off season.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:03 PM)

The Sheehan, very interesting point you make here. The Mavs have the amnesty clause in their back pocket and the candidates for its use are Marion and Haywood. So much depends on what happens leading up to the deadline, specifically with Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. Trading Marion during the season, to me, would end any hope of a title run. But, you are right in that any hope of landing both free agents, means Marion's got to go either now or in the offseason.

Tom (Plano)

Besides Roddy B, you see the Mavs moving any pieces before the off season? Seems like they can make a run but I know they are thinking BIG this off season and need to clear space.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:05 PM)

Tom, I don't see any moves of any significance. It's all about clearing cap space as you say, which is why I don't believe Lamar Odom will be traded. They can simply let him walk at the end of the season and pay the $2.8 mil that is guaranteed on his contract for next season. To me, any trades will be dumps like you say when Brewer and Fernandez were traded to Denver for a 2nd round pick way down the road.

Chris (Midland, TX)

Can DJ handle the point duties till west gets back or is Terry going to play more point?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:06 PM)

Chris,Carlisle tried to play Jet at the point some in NY and it wasn't pretty. He's going to try to keep Terry at the 2 to keep his job as simple as possible -- catch and shoot. Roddy will be back for the resumption of the season next week and Dominique Jones might get more time as well. He's played OK, not great. Still, his greatest weakness is his jump shot, it is ugly.

Angie (Little Elm)

Brandon Wright seems to have taken over a good portion on the back up center minutes, what do you think the Mavs rotation will look like come playoff time?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:08 PM)

Angie, good question. I think it will look a lot like you are seeing now with all 3 centers playing unless Brandan Wright just totally dominates over the next 2 months, which I don't see happening. He does a lot of positive things on the floor, but I don't think Carlisle is going to abandon Mahimni.

Zach (Flowermound)

Vince Carter has exceeded expectations, is he someone that the Mavs will keep around next year IF, the big IF, we land the dream scenerio of D. Will & Howard?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:09 PM)

Zach, that very well could happen. Vince comes cheaply at just $3 mil a year, so if he continues to produce this season and is deemed a good fit, which he has been, then yes he could be back. If the dream scenario happens, Dirk-DWill-Howard will command a ton of the salary cap so Dallas, like Miami has, will need vets on the cheap to round out their roster. Let's keep an eye on Vince, though, he may have hit a bit of a wall here. The All-Star break will be good for him.

John S. (Processing room)

Whats the latest and greatest on D. West expected time table for return? I'm assuming the surgery went well.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:11 PM)

John, what are you processing..For the latest on Delonte West read this: talked to him today at shootaround. Surgery was fine, he had pins inserted and will need them taken out before he can practice. Best timetable is 3-5 weeks til he can play.

Dirk (Practice Floor)

I appear to be on track to peak around playoff time, who else looks to be improving as we get to the all star break?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:13 PM)

Ladies and gentlemen, Dirk Nowitzki...thanks for popping in big fella, and you are rounding into shape. You know, Jason Kidd has played better since his return. His shooting numbers are up, rebounds, too, and he just looks a bit more into the swing of things. Otherwise, I think things have been relatively steady for the oldest crew in the league. The break will be good for everyone. of course, among the younger guys, Brandan Wright has probably shown the greatest improvement.

Mark Cuban (Flying in my Jet)

What are realistic playoff expectations at this point for my Mavs? First round? 2nd? Title Game? The Repeat?!?!?!

Jeff Caplan
  (3:15 PM)

Wow, and now the owner. I knew this chat was really catching on. Mark, I think you guys can do any or all of the above. I think the West is wide open. Matchups will be key. I'm really excited to see some games finally against Memphis, a talented, big and athletic team that will only get better once Zach Randolph comes back. OKC is up again after the break and I still think the Mavs hold some mojo against them. Dallas' defense and ability to come through in the clutch, I think, makes them real contenders again.

Brandon (North Richland Hills, TX)

Assuming Dwight Howard is traded before the deadline, who would be the Mavs' Plan-B free agents this offseason?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:17 PM)

Brandon,If Howard is traded and that is certainly not a given, then Deron Williams is obviously the next target -- and the Mavs as you know have designs on both. Now, if Howard is traded to New Jersey then Williams is staying there. If both are off the free agent market then Dallas has to really think about where it's headed because so many of its guys will be free agents ie Kidd and Terry. Bottom line is after Howard and Williams, there is a significant drop-off in talent available.

Jarad (Ft Worth)

Hey Jeff, I just noticed that the mavs are allowing their opponents to get an average of 9.18 steals per game, which is the most in the league. Though they average a pretty normal amount of TO's, what would you say causes the mavs to be high in this category and do you see Carlisle addressing it?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:19 PM)

Jarad,Well, Jason Kidd has had a number of bad turnovers this season and after him, there really isn't a true point guard on the team. Delonte West, yes, but he's kind of a combo guy. And sometimes in that flow offense, where they're running, there's going to be some passes that get picked, etc. Carlisle definitely addresses. They make up for the steals by averaging the same number of steals on the defensive end.

Billy (Houston)

Should we trade LO and Roddy?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:21 PM)

Billy, I'd say trading either before the deadline doesn't make a lot of sense.Lamar won't be back next season and if the Mavs need to create cap space next summer then they'll move Roddy in a salary dump. The Mavs don't want to take back salary at this point. They can trade Roddy now for like a draft pick, but why not hold onto him and see if he crank things up. They need fresh legs in March and April, there's a lot of games coming up quickly and good chunk on the road.

Justin (Connecticut )

What should Lamar Odom do to change his season for the better?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:22 PM)

Make some shots?

Mike (Pittsburgh)

Stephen A. Smith said yesterday that if Dwight Howard does not end up with the Nets then Deron Williams is guaranteed to land with the Mavs. Do you sense that this is the vibe going around the Mavs camp right now?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:24 PM)

Mike, I don't know that the Mavs are thinking they've got Deron Williams in their hip pocket. What if NJ believes it has no shot at getting Howard in a trade now and no assurance that he'll go there as a free agent...would't NJ try to trade Deron? Wouldn't the Lakers, if they can't get Howard in a trade, and they can't get him in free agency because they're over the cap, dangle Pau Gasol to Jersey for Williams?

Jason (Florida)

Why is Odom taking so many 3's this season? Over a third of his shots this year have been from three which is much higher than his career average. Do you think Carlisle should try to curtail that as Odom seems much more effective in the midrange game?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:25 PM)

Jason, Yes he's taking too many 3s. In a conversation I had with Kurt Rambis, that was one thing he said was that Odom can start jacking 3s and over his career he only shoots it about 31, 32 percent. The Mavs want him to drive and be more aggressive, they want him to use his ball skills to create instead of shooting from 24 feet away.

jason (new london)

i know lin is an ok player but it looks like the nba is attempting to manufacture him in to a superstar. am i the only one that thinks that look at the flagerent foul called on terry, their is no way that game was called down the middle.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:27 PM)

Jason, give me a break. How is the NBA manufacturing this? Are they setting it up so he gets 25 and 9 every night? Come on. Yeah, the flagrant on Terry was a bad call, but that happens all the time. Lin went to the free throw line 6 times in that game. Is that preferential treatment considering the numerous occasions he drove the lane? Stop whining about the officials. I get enough of that from Cuban.

Shawn Jacob (Carrollton, TX)

What is your assessment of Dominique Jones in the short amount of time he has played so far?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:28 PM)

I think he's been OK. he can play some D, can penetrate, but he can't shoot and he loses the handle a bit too much.

Ray (Lewisville)

Do you think the Mavs have enough offense to go deep into the playoffs again? I see only two consistent scorers (Dirk and Jet); maybe Marion but even then I think it?s hit or miss with him (see the 76ers game). Jason Kidd is up and down this year and Lamar Odom is undependable. If we trade Roddy, where will the points come from? Eventually, we will need to keep pace with OKC, Denver, Portland, Clippers and San Antonio. Do you agree?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:31 PM)

Ray, even if you don't trade Roddy, I don't see him playing meaningful minutes in the playoffs, but we'll see. This is not a great offensive scoring team. But, I think they have enough weapons to share the wealth on any given night and the security that Dirk is going to bring it every night. The teams you mention, have the Mavs had tons of problems matching their scoring so far. Not that I remember, and on the flip side, which team plays the best defense and executes the best late in games?

dylan (lubbock)

When is roddy b coming back?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:31 PM)

He should be back later this week and in uniform when the season resumes on Tuesday against NJ.

Greg (Fort Worth)

With Stephen Jackson saying he doesnt want to be a mav does that hurt our chances with Dwight Howard?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:32 PM)

Huh? Am I missing something here? Will Dwight Howard only sign with a team if Stephen Jackson on it?

Austin (Dallas)

Jeff, Can the Mavs get someone like Deshawn Stevenson in a deal for Roddy? ( Not flashy, but could fill a need, especially with West out) I am worried about Marion's minutes and the wear and tear. Stevenson could help the wear on Marion and he is only signed for this year, so he would not hurt their cap space.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:33 PM)

Austin, interesting concept, but again, you've already got Vince and Terry at the 2. Vince and Lamar are playing some 3 behind Marion. Not sure where the minutes come. I still think the Mavs want to try to make it work with Roddy.

J (Fort Worth,TX)

Do you see the mavs making a small move to try to add depth at any position the guard positions in particular

Jeff Caplan
  (3:34 PM)

Not really. Once they get West back I think they like their depth at both spots.

TheMavsFanatic (Phoenix, AZ)

Hey Jeff! Kobe has been running his mouth a bit the last few hours. First about his dirk-like one legged jumper and now a Shawn Marion comment. Black Mamba a little salty about last year still?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:35 PM)

Fanatic, how are ya? Salty? Yeah sure, why wouldn't he be. The thing about the one-legged jumper I thought was funny. Some are calling it trash talk, but I just think he was being funny and teasing a guy he totally respects. The Shawn Marion thing, again,Kobe and Shawn have battled for years. Believe me, Kobe has a lot of respect for Marion, too.

David (Dallas)

With the Lakers not having a deep bench these days, it looks like the Mavs acquisition of Odom was good even if only he isn't on the Lakers anymore. Thoughts?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:36 PM)

David,Yeah, I think that's a great thought. He averaged like 14 and 8 last year, was the sixth man of the year. You don't think they'd like him back on that team right now? Heck yes.

Richard (Austin)

If you had to make a prediction right now, from what you've seen from the Mavs so far, how deep will they make it in the playoffs assuming there are no big trades?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:37 PM)

As I've said, I think Mavs can beat anyone in the West in a playoff series. So much depends on health and freshness when we get to to late April.

Jordant (Ft. Worth)

Do you think either Jason Kidd or Jason Terry will be on the Mavs next season?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:39 PM)

Very possible that both return at reasonable rates. Kidd has said he'll be a backup and Terry wants to retire with the team and have his jersey retired. So much depends on who the Mavs sign in the offseason, what they've got left to spend on others and what kind of offers these guys get elsewhere.

Aaron (Dallas)

I was totally wrong about Vince Carter's contribution. Did you or your journalist brethren think he would be this good? "CONFESS! CONFESS!"

Jeff Caplan
  (3:40 PM)

Aaron, we've said all along that we raised our eyebrows at his signing after seeing him the last couple of years. He's been very good and is excelling playing reduced minutes. Let's see if he can keep it up.

Mike-C-13 (Brownsvile(Texas))

Do you believe Dirk is fully healthy or does he still need more rest?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:41 PM)

Mike, he says he's fully healthy and I believe him. I ditched the knee sleeve a few games back and think he's not using it. He's certainly utilizing his full offensive arsenal and rebounding better.

Bryson (Little Elm)

Would you trade Roddy B and Lam Lam for Steve Nash?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:41 PM)

Sure I would, but why would Phoenix?

Joseph (Charlottesville, VA)

Is there an area of the game that decides whether or not the Mavs win or lose more than turnovers?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:41 PM)

I think you're right, when they give up 18 or more that spells trouble.

David (Dallas)

Do you think the Mavs can finish the second half strong and get a good seed or do you see Rick sitting the vets near the end of the season?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:42 PM)

Rick will continue to closely monitor minutes as he has so far and it's worked. Yeah, I think they can finish strong. March is going to be tough, I believe 17 games, 10 on the road and a stretch of 9 in 12 nights, including the only back-to-back-to-back, all on the road.

MsLettiC (Dallas,TX)

When can Mavs expect good consistency out of Odom? Time is running out 2 defend our title.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:44 PM)

MsLetti..welcome...a loyal Twitter follower. Well, Rick likes what he's seeing more than he did in the first 15 games. He needs to shoot better, be more aggressive. If he does he can be a valuable asset to this club, especially in the playoffs.

Bryan (Springdale, AR)

Do the Lakers fear Dirk?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:44 PM)

Who doesn't? Of course, they really have no one that can guard him.

Steve (Dallas)

If we miss out on Deron and Howard, is there a chance that we keep Odom and hope he gets his head on straight in the off season?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:45 PM)

A chance, but I don't think so. Again, that can change if he plays great these last 2 months and in the postseason. We'll see.

Danny (Carrollton)

As long as the Mavs finish with a top 4 seed and have a + winning % vs Teams with winning records do you see the Mavs being the fav to come out of the West?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:46 PM)

Even if they don't finish top 4 they might be the favorite. Brace yourself, but OKC is already considered the favorite to come out of the West.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:47 PM)

OK everyone, thanks for all your questions. We extended this thing to 45 minutes. Love all the interest. Remember to follow for the best Mavs coverage in town.follow me on twitter: @espn_caplan.See you next week. Enjoy the game tonight.