The Mavericks still are dealing with a manpower shortage when it comes to their injured big men, but there may be a light twinkling at the end of the tunnel.
Maxi Kleber and Christian Wood have been out for extended stretches and the Mavericks’ performance has been impacted as you might expect.
Wood (fractured thumb) has been sidelined since Jan. 19 and the Mavericks have scratched out a 3-3 record.
Kleber (hamstring surgery) has been out since Dec. 13 and the record has been 13-12 since.
Coach Jason Kidd said that both players have been cleared to begin court work, which will begin Friday as the Mavericks practice before heading out for a five-game trip that starts at Golden State Saturday.
Both Kleber and Wood will be on the trip and Kidd said that Wood is closer to a return than Kleber.
“C-Wood has a better chance of playing before Maxi,” he said. “Can’t rule C-Wood out. He can definitely play hopefully on this trip. Maxi is the one who probably doesn’t play on this trip.”
Without the pair, the Mavericks have used a patchwork lineup with Dorian Finney-Smith, Dwight Powell and JaVale McGee all seeing time at the center spot.
Wood is the Mavericks’ second-leading scorer and rebounder at 18.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
Kleber was averaging 6.2 points and 3.5 rebounds in 22 games off the bench before his injury and he’s considered the Mavericks’ best defensive big man.
“Both (have been) cleared for court work, so we’ll get those guys into practice and then we’ll have another update with how they’re doing with practice,” Kidd said.
Asked if scrimmaging is included, he said: “Contact, practice. As many as we can get on the court. It could be four-on-four, three-on-three. But hopefully we can get them five-on-five. We’ll see how practice goes tomorrow.”
The severity of Kleber’s injury, suffered in practice has required him to put in extended rehab.
Kidd said the goal is to see how the 6-10 Kleber does in practice sessions, then monitor his health on the days following those practices.
“It’s just a matter of, with so many bodies on the floor and the contact, to see how he responds,” Kidd said.
His vote can’t be bought: The All-Star reserves were announced Thursday and Kidd got some unusually persuasive gifts trying to sway his vote.
Most notably, the Sacramento Kings got his attention.
“I have to say, I really want to give credit to Sacramento because they did an incredible job of sending wine and basketball cards,” Kidd said. “So (coach) Mike Brown did a really good job and I commend them for the gifts. I’m going to keep the basketball cards.”
The wine, presumably, already was put to good use.
“I think they’re creative, creative move on whoever came up with that,” Kidd said.
So did the ploy work? Hard to say since Sacramento is third in the Western Conference standings and got only one all-star, big man Domantas Sabonis. Kings oint guard De’Aaron Fox was one of this year’s snubs.
“I can’t answer that.” Kidd said of whether the gifts had an impact. “I did like the gift, though.
“Everyone does it differently. Emails are sent out. Agents (are involved). There are gifts. It’s being creative and who you’re speaking for and how much you have to get someone’s attention.”
And, as always, it doesn’t make the process any easier.
“It’s tough,” Kidd said. “There are so many talented players having great seasons. It’s tough, but you have to fill out the ballot.”
In addition to Sabonis, the other West reserves were Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Utah’s Lauri Markkanen, Portland’s Damian Lillard, Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Paul George.
Dunk you very much: The New Orleans Pelicans have a coach in Willie Green who was an athletic swingman in his 12-year NBA career that ended in 2015.
Recently, he was videotaped after a practice doing a windmill dunk at age 41.
So Kidd, who turns 50 on March 23, was asked if he could still dunk.
“No, I can’t dunk. And I didn’t dunk when I played,” he said. “I probably had five total in my career. Willie’s young. I can’t dunk, but that’s pretty impressive for Willie to be able to do that.”
For the record, Kidd had 42 dunks in his career, according to basketball-reference.com.
But none after the 2002-03 season.
“I got ‘em out of the way early,” he said. And then he amended himself.
“If it’s life or death, if that was the case, I’d say yes,” Kidd said about dunking now. “But it’s not that serious.”
Share and comment