Rick Carlisle wasn’t trying to be insensitive.
But the Dallas Mavericks coach knows Brandan Wright’s injury, which will keep him sidelined indefinitely, means more opportunities for Samuel Dalembert, Bernard James, Fab Melo, DeJuan Blair and Renaldo Balkman.
Wright suffered a small, nondisplaced fracture to his left shoulder during Tuesday’s practice and will be evaluated weekly. There is no timetable set for Wright, who doubles as a backup at center and power forward for the Mavericks.
“Now Blair becomes more at the forefront, Sarge [James] has got to be ready, Sammy has got to keep playing like he did the other night,” Carlisle said after Friday practice. “And it gives guys like [Renaldo] Balkman and Melo a chance to get some more minutes in preseason.”
Wright made the trip to Memphis for Wednesday’s preseason game, but sat out the Mavericks’ 95-90 victory over the Grizzlies. After the game Wright said he was only sidelined for “precautionary reasons,” but an MRI on Thursday revealed the extent of the injury.
“He’s one of our best players,” Carlisle said. “Look, he’ll be back. This is a Mother Nature thing.
“He’s upbeat about it. Nobody knows exactly how long it’s going to be. If Mother Nature is kind, it’ll resolve quicker.”
After Wright averaged 8.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.19 blocks per game last year, he became a free agent in July and the Mavericks subsequently signed him to a two-year, $10 million contract.
When Jose Calderon eventually returns from his strained left hamstring, in addition to his ball-handling skills, he’ll also provide the Mavericks with some superb 3-point shooting.
Calderon can even slide from his point-guard spot and let shooting guard Monta Ellis run the offense. Ellis is a slasher and has a deft eye for locating an open teammate. Calderon led the NBA in 3-point shooting last season at 46.1 percent.
“It’s proven that [Calderon is] one of the best at knocking them down,” Rick Carlisle said. “Monta is going to create problems where the defense is going to have to suck in.
“And if they don’t leave Jose, rollers are going to be open around the basket and Monta will find them.”
Carlisle, however, insists he won’t be trying to use a steady diet of Ellis at point guard, even though Ellis averaged more than five assists per game in each in the past five seasons and is known as an accomplished passer.
“We don’t want to put a playmaking role on him that says he’s got to get six or seven assists and score 18-20 points or something like that,” Carlisle said of Ellis. “Because that’s going to affect his ability to guard well and do other things.
“We want his game to be balanced. We want our team to be balanced. That’s going to be one of our important goals.”