New Mavericks center eager to match up with predecessor in Dallas

Posted Monday, Nov. 04, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Over the summer, the Dallas Mavericks addressed their emergency needs inside by replacing center Chris Kaman with center Samuel Dalembert.

Tuesday at 7:30, they’ll get to see if they made a wise decision when Dalembert and the Mavericks (2-1) host Kaman and the Los Angeles Lakers (2-2) at American Airlines Center.

In three starts for the Mavericks, Dalembert has made significant progress by averaging 8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 0.7 blocks while shooting 69.2 percent from the field in 25 minutes per game.

In his four games for the Lakers — all off the bench — Kaman is averaging 8.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 0.8 blocks while shooting 58.6 percent in 16.5 minutes.

Dalembert is eager for his matchup with Kaman. He knows the comparisons are inevitable considering the circumstances.

“He bleeds, so he’s a human being, so I’m going to guard him,” Dalembert said. “The main thing that I learn playing against good players is just don’t let them get comfortable from the beginning, because if not, it’s going to be a long night.”

The Mavericks signed Dalembert to a two-year, $7.6 million free agent contract with the second year — at $3.9 million — non-guaranteed. Meanwhile, Kaman signed a one-year, $3.2 million free agent contract with the Lakers.

Coach Rick Carlisle has been impressed with how Dalembert has protected the rim, something Kaman failed to do in his one-year stint with the Mavericks last season.

“Defensively, he’s done a really good job with his length and rim protection,” Carlisle said. “The key thing is he can’t waste fouls.

“His fouls just aren’t zip-lock fouls you pull out of a bag and dispose of — they’re important to us. I don’t know that he’s a 35-minute a game player, but we need him, for whatever his minutes are, we need him fresh and we need him to be a factor and engaged defensively.”

The Mavericks also need Dalembert to be engaged as far as staying out of foul trouble, which limited him to 22 minutes in Friday’s 113-105 loss to Houston.

“With the exception of Houston, he’s done a good job,” Carlisle said. “So we’ve got to stay the course and keep reiterating to him how important it is that he not waste the fouls.”

Larkin practices

Help will soon arrive at point guard after rookie Shane Larkin went through live practice drills Monday.

It was Larkin’s first practice since he broke his right ankle in practice on July 5, a few hours before the Mavericks left for the Las Vegas summer league. Larkin had surgery on July 16, but hadn’t gone through formal workouts until Monday.

However, there is no timetable for Larkin’s return.

“I don’t have my quickness out there yet, but that’ll come in the next couple days or so,” Larkin said. “Hopefully in the next couple weeks — next week or week and a half — I’ll be able to play.”

The 18th overall pick in June’s NBA Draft will be battling rookie Gal Mekel for playing time behind starting point guard Jose Calderon.

“He practiced and he did some live stuff out there today,” Carlisle said. “It’s a first step.”

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice

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