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April 11, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Jeff Caplan

ESPN Dallas
  (3:02 PM)

Jeff will be along shortly ...

Jeff Caplan
  (3:06 PM)

Sorry for being tardy, folks. Connection issues always at the wrong time. Let's get started.

Derek (North Richland Hills, Texas)

Hey Jeff how are you doing today? I know it's only one game without Lamar in the locker room, BUT last night's game that I saw for the first time this year that the Mavs actually looked like the Mavs out there. Do you think that Lamar out the Mavs might have a chance to get at least past the 1st round?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:07 PM)

Well, I think more of that had to do with Jason Kidd looking pretty good and actually being as aggressive as I can remember this season. He even finished a contested layup. Really, the Lamar thing might give these guys the satisfaction of knowing every guy on the bench is now going to give 100 percent effort, but last night was still pretty sloppy over a team with 5 road wins.

Shawn Jacob (Carrollton, TX)

Any chance Lamar Odom is thrown in prison for felony charges such as stealing around $810,000 from Mark Cuban this season?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:08 PM)

No, but the Mavs do hope they can trade him before June 30 and avoid paying another $2.4 million that would count against next season's cap.

Preston (Dallas)

Other than Deron Williams, are there any other free agents that the Mavs will pursue?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:10 PM)

Preston, there are obviously a number of players that will be free agents, including Steve Nash, who is a fallback if the Mavs don't get Deron Williams. But so much revolves around Williams. For instance, if they get him, then does that mean Jason Kidd re-signs and becomes his backup? Mavs will likely have to amnesty either Marion or Haywood, so those positions they'd be on the look out for, which is one reason you saw them pick Azubuike with eyes on next season.

JD (NY)

As a desperate Nets fan who's admittedly reaching, will this Lamar Odom "fiasco" have ANY affect whatsoever on Deron's opinion of Cuban and the Mavs? Please...I need something here...

Jeff Caplan
  (3:11 PM)

JD, absolutely not. Why would it? In fact the Mavs blog on this site, Tim MacMahon addresses that very issue. But, count me as one of the few that don't believe D-Will is all but signed, sealed and delivered to Dallas. I'm not buying it quite yet.

Kirby (PHI)

What are the chances of the Mavs pulling an upset against the Spurs if they both end up going against each other in the first round?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:12 PM)

Kirby, I'd really have to see some vast improvement from the Mavs in the final 8 games to believe that. The Spurs have a lot of weapons and are tremendously difficult to guard with Parker and Ginobili. Kidd and Carter, to me, are defensive liabilities in such a matchup and Shawn Marion becomes invaluable.

Steven (Allentown, PA)

What type of role does Azubuike play for the Mavs playoff run? Brewer-esque? or something even more significant?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:13 PM)

Probably none at all. The guy hasn't played in 2 seasons and his run with the Legends in the D-League was very brief. If they're counting on him for anything, then it is going to be a very short playoff run.

Neil (College Station)

Apparently, Odom had some personal issues this summer. But, if there's anyone we should feel bad for it's Roddy B. The guy lost his dad mid-season, yet nobody ever uses that as an excuse for him. I know there wasn't really a question here... Odom sucks.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:15 PM)

Neil, you are right, Roddy went through a really tough time and probably had ever right to cash in this season. But, he moved on and hopefully for his sake he will flourish. Odom's issues are deep, yet it's still inexplicable to me that he couldn't bring the effort. A lot of players going through tough times off the court say playing the game is their sanctuary. That wasn't the case, obviously, for Odomm.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

What Dallas Mavericks Players are Free Agents after this season?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:16 PM)

Which ones aren't...lol...Let's see, Kidd, Terry, West, Ian for starters...Mavs have Wright for another season, Haywood and Marion for a few more. Dirk is obviously locked up.

Jarad (Ft Worth)

Hey Jeff, Which of the upcoming games has the most importance to the guys?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:18 PM)

Jarad, honestly, it'll be the next one until the season is over. They can ill-afford to go to Golden State tomorrow and drop a second game up there. The Portland is up the next night. Lakers and Utah on Sunday and Monday. I mean if you lose to GS or Portland, you set this up for no better than a 2-2 record and that's not really good enough at this point. I will say I think the Lakers are really struggling and can be picked off on Sunday. And if Kobe remains out, then obviously a win is mandatory by the Mavs.

Dan (Dallas)

Mavs still did not look fully engaged last night, should we expect this in the playoffs if we make it?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:20 PM)

Well Dan, I'm going to write about this later today and will be up on the site tomorrow morning, but this is the time that a championship team sucks it up and gets on a roll. They have to. They have no choice. Odom, the scapegoat is gone. Kidd is back, so now is the time to expect the team to put a few things together and look like a real contender. Maybe it takes a few games, but time is running out.

Robert (Dallas)

Assuming D-Will to Dallas comes to fruition. In that scenario, it seems like it will be Dirk, D-Will, Marion, Kidd, Mahnimi, and Wright, with the rest of the roster filled out with minimum salary guys. Do you consider that a recipe for success?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:22 PM)

Robert, That's a great question. One reason I'm not sold on D-Will coming is that what is he coming to? A team with a 34-year-old Dirk in his final seasons and what else really? New Jersey has a billionaire owner, too, we saw that Brook Lopez is pretty good when healthy and they have lots of cap space to help fill around D-Will. He likes living in Manhattan. He's done well with Madison Ave. If the Mavs do get D-Will, it's hardly a recipe for an immediate title like it seems so many people think. I don't believe D-Will has one. In fact he ran off a Hall of Fame coach in Jerry Sloan.

Franc (Montreal)

Do you see Nets being interested in Odom? That way we can use a sign-and-trade to get Deron?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:23 PM)

Franc, I would doubt it. I think Lamar has played his way into a minimum contract for next season with either Lakers, Clips or Heat. Now, a team that trades for Odom likely will not be trading for him but to get $3 million from the Mavs and then dump Odom's $2.4 million contract for cap space.

CK (Plano)

IF the Mav's make an improbable run and win it all again this year... Who presents Lamar with his ring? #awkward

Jeff Caplan
  (3:24 PM)

I bet Cuban would give it to him personally in yet another ring ceremony. Just not sure about the warm-and-fuzzy introduction that Carlisle gave each guy that came through town this season.

David Stein (Fort Worth)

Hey Jeff, this is Stein. I get asked a lot, but wanted to see your answer on it. Does Marion/Haywood have to go to get Deron Williams? Do you see any possible way they keep both?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:25 PM)

One or the other is going to have be amnestied to clear cap space. The Mavs have to make room to offer D-Will a max deal, which will still be some $20+ mil and one year shorter than what Nets can offer in free agency.

Casey (Houston)

What would you consider to be a good record for the Mavs on this upcoming road trip? Also what record do you think the mavs will have in their last 8? What do they need to have? Pleasure as always.....

Jeff Caplan
  (3:25 PM)

One or the other is going to have be amnestied to clear cap space. The Mavs have to make room to offer D-Will a max deal, which will still be some $20+ mil and one year shorter than what Nets can offer in free agency.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:26 PM)

3-1 to me is mandatory on this road trip. Anything less and you're just treading water. As for as the 8-game record, 6-2 would, to me, ice it. Denver, Houston and Phoenix I believe all play each other in some form or fashion so there are built-in losses and the Mavs hold the tiebreaker over all of them.

Jaqui (Fort Worth)

Hi, I heard that Orlando might trade Dwight still during the off-season. Will the Mavs be able to trade for him and who could we send besides Dirk, of course.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:28 PM)

Jaqui, Sure Orlando could still deal Howard at the draft or by next trade deadline and I think you might see that happen, maybe not the draft, but later on if he doesn't commit long term. And no the Mavs would not have the pieces to trade him most likely just like they did not this season. I mean who would be different that Mavs would add that would entice Orlando? D-Will?

Angel (Dallas)

Do you think it makes Cuban look bad around the league with other players with the moves he made in this last offseason and with letting Odom go after winning a title?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:29 PM)

Angel,No, I don't think so. Players around the league love Cuban. They believe he treats players well, they like that he's involved and they generally think he's a cool dude. And if the Lamar situation showed anything, it showed that he will stick up for players until he just simply no longer can.

Angel (Dallas)

Why do they have a problem with Wright playing 4 if Marion can't shoot either and he played the position last year?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:31 PM)

Angel, you get the double question, it's the last one in the queue....With Odom here, Carlisle didn't like playing Wright at the 4 because in the Mavs' offense the 4, Dirk, spreads the court. Obviously Dirk doesn't play the 4 as a true power forward would. Since Wright isn't a great outside shooter and his game is based in the paint, he doesn't really fit the scheme as a 4, but he has really flourished as a 5. Having said that, Carlisle will look at using him at the 4 and did briefly last night until Mahinmi got in foul trouble and had to come out.

Rene (Addison)

Do you think that Dwill is the answer for the future? I mean he is playing on a lottery bound team. I know they had injuries but all teams do. I just hope the Mavs don't overspend on a player with great stats, but poor win/loss record.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:32 PM)

Look, D-Will is an All-Star point guard. I think he's a bit of a prima dona, but if you can get one of the game's top guards, you get him, especially when you have Dirk heading into his twilight years. You're going to spend big, but there's really no other option unless you want years of mediocrity or worse. With D-Will, the thinking is you will then be able to attract other quality players to come to the Mavs.

Casey (Houston)

Which player do you think needs to step up (to make up for Odom being gone) for this team to make any kind of run?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:34 PM)

Casey, as I state in the Hot Button on espndallas.com, the guy I think has to rise up is Jason Kidd. He has not been good all season, but he runs the offense like no one else and when he's healthy and hitting 3s and playing D, it makes a world of difference. Forget about who needs to step up at the 4, Shawn Marion will take some minutes there. Jason Kidd is the man the Mavs need at his best.

Dan (Dallas)

Do you see the Mavs climbing out of the 7 or 8 seed? Don't see how they could feel too confident going up against SA or OKC first round.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:35 PM)

Dan, Houston in the 6-seed is playing really well right now and just got Kyle Lowry back. they just swept a four-game road trip. Mavs play Houston in Dallas I believe next week. So, yes, I could see Mavs getting to No. 6, but they'll need the Rockets to cool off.

Robert (Dallas)

How much longer do you see Dirk playing? He doesn't seem to be too big on individual achievements, but if he plays 5 more years, he's got a shot to be Top 7 in all-time scoring. Plus, he sure doesn't look like he's lost much in terms of skill set.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:36 PM)

Robert, we know he'll play at least 2 more seasons since that's what's left on his contract. Could he retire then? Sure. Could he play longer? Absolutely. I think a lot will depend on how good the team is. You are right, another 5 seasons and Dirk could really move up the all-time scoring chart. He will be 34 next season, but I think he's got some high quality years left for sure.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:36 PM)

Robert, we know he'll play at least 2 more seasons since that's what's left on his contract. Could he retire then? Sure. Could he play longer? Absolutely. I think a lot will depend on how good the team is. You are right, another 5 seasons and Dirk could really move up the all-time scoring chart. He will be 34 next season, but I think he's got some high quality years left for sure.

Angel (Dallas)

So Marion spreads the floor?

Daniel (Bedford)

Jeff, Will Stern make a new rule for players like Lamar where they really don't want to play but a team can't cut them because they will go to another team or the team they were with before. If i had to put a rule in it would be that they won't get paid and they will not be able to sign with another team that season. That's just my opinion though.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:39 PM)

Ok folks, I've got to run. I promise no technical glitches next week. Thanks for being a part of the Mavs chat. Hard to believe we're down to the final 2 weeks of the season. I'll be in LA for Sunday's game and Monday's game at Utah. But, always get your best Mavs coverage at espndallas.com. Chat tomorrow with Mavs play by play man Chuck Cooperstein. Follow me on Twitter @espn_caplan.Thanks everyone!

Jeff Caplan
  (3:39 PM)

Ok folks, I've got to run. I promise no technical glitches next week. Thanks for being a part of the Mavs chat. Hard to believe we're down to the final 2 weeks of the season. I'll be in LA for Sunday's game and Monday's game at Utah. But, always get your best Mavs coverage at espndallas.com. Chat tomorrow with Mavs play by play man Chuck Cooperstein. Follow me on Twitter @espn_caplan.Thanks everyone!