Forward Dorian Finney-Smith, guard Josh Richardson and center Dwight Powell returned Wednesday to play their first game for the Dallas Mavericks in nearly three weeks due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

But what about forward Maxi Kleber?

“He’s making progress,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s been cleared out of isolation. He’s starting his workouts. His clock is ticking at a different rate because his episode was longer.”

The Mavs lost to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, 116-104, and will play them again on Friday at 9 p.m. before returning home to face the Phoenix Suns on Saturday at 8 p.m. Kleber didn’t play Wednesday and Carlisle said he won’t play in Friday’s game, but he could possibly return and play against the Suns on Saturday.

“I haven’t had that discussion with (director of player health and performance) Casey Smith and I haven’t talked to Maxi in the last 24 hours,” Carlisle said. “But the hope is that sometimes after this trip he’ll be able to rejoin us and get back out on the floor and play some minutes. I just don’t know exactly when that will be.”

Kleber last played in the 112-98 victory over the Orlando Magic on Jan. 9 when he scored five points, collected three rebounds and blocked two shots in 24 minutes in a game which he started. Since then, he’s been in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

While Kleber is on the back side of the health and safety protocols, Carlisle said it was a shot in the arm for the Mavs when Powell, Finney-Smith and Richardson were able to return and practice on Tuesday.

“They’re three of our really upbeat, glue, high functioning players,” Carlisle said. “All three of these guys have achieved at a high level in their career compared to what people would have predicted. They’re all positive people, very unselfish, and they all play the defensive end of the floor as well as being proficient offensively, so it’s great.

“It was a real lift (Tuesday) in practice just to have them in there. But as I said, this will be a process of getting them phased back in and hopefully it will happen with some expeditiousness. It’s hard to say.”

It’s hard to say because, as medical experts insist, the coronavirus is so unpredictable.

“The virus is so different with every person,” Carlisle said. “But these three guys seem to be in a very good place given their circumstances and when they came out of isolation and were able to begin practicing, so we’re very hopeful.”

Finney-Smith and Richardson each started and played 24 minutes on Wednesday, and Powell came off the bench to play 13 minutes. Finney-Smith wound up with three points, four rebounds and two assists, Richardson contributed six points and two boards, and Powell was scoreless, but collected three rebounds and one assist.

“I thought they gave what they could give,” Carlisle said. “It’s tough, but this is a beginning for them getting back into the fold.

“Certainly tonight is going to be an important step in getting them back from a conditioning standpoint. We just got to build on it from here.”

Carlisle praises Sekou Smith: Coach Rick Carlisle opened his pre-game press conference on Wednesday by paying homage to NBA TV reporter and analyst Sekou Smith, who died Tuesday after a battle with COVID-19.

“I just like to say that my thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to the family of Sekou Smith, who’s a guy that many of us knew very, very well,” Carlisle said. “He covered the (Indiana) Pacers when I was there for a couple of years and then went on to a very productive television career.

“This guy was universally liked, loved and respected. He was a completely authentic person with great credibility. And very, very sad at age 48 for a life to end. Our prayers go out to his family, and he will be missed.”

Smith started his sports writing career at the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, MS, in 1994, and then became the Pacers’ beater writer for the Indianapolis Star for four years, and the Atlanta Hawks’ beater writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for four years before joining the Turner Sports family in 2009. He also wrote for

“The NBA mourns the passing of Sekou Smith, a beloved member of the NBA family,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “Sekou was one of the most affable and dedicated reporters in the NBA and a terrific friend to so many across the league.

“Sekou’s love of basketball was clear to everyone who knew him and it always shined through in his work. Our heartfelt condolences go to his wife, Heather, and their children, Gabriel, Rielly and Cameron.”

Carlisle tips hat to Snyder: No one has to tell Mavs coach Rick Carlisle why the Utah Jazz are on a 10-game winning streak.

“They have a great coach,” Carlisle said. “(Jazz coach) Quin Snyder is a very, very underrated coach, Quietly, he’s built this team into a very cohesive group.

“They’re really at the top of the league in both offense and defense. When you can do that at a high level you’re going to be one of the top teams. Look, these are NBA games — they’re hard games.”

Wednesday was the 500th game of Snyder’s coaching career. He has been coaching Utah since the 2104-’15 season and has compiled a 285-215 record during that span, while the Jazz has advanced to the playoffs the past four seasons.

Twitter: @DwainPrice

Share and comment

More Mavs News