At some point this season, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle knows he’s going to need Greg Smith.
With several teams fielding a front wall consisting of tall and burly players fit for a football field, the presence of the 6-foot-10, 260-pound Smith is a necessity. Particularly if Tyson Chandler (7-1, 245) gets into foul trouble.
“He hasn’t been on the court that much,” Carlisle said of Smith. “We need him.
“I try to get him in there some when I can because he needs experience with our guys, and he’s done a good job.”
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Going into Saturday’s game against Minnesota, Smith had played a total of only 35 minutes in six games. But the four-year veteran knows he has to wait before he can accumulate more playing time.
“Coach has a rotation right now and it’s good,” Smith said. “I don’t want to mess up anything that’s going on good right now.
“I’m just going to be here, and whenever they call me I’ll be ready. I’m going to keep cheering these guys on and keep motivating these guys to go out there and play well whether I’m playing or not.”
The Mavs have often played Brandan Wright (6-10, 240) and Chandler on the floor at the same time when going against a big lineup. Although Carlisle sometimes substitutes Chandler for Smith, he said “it’s possible’’ he may also start using Smith and Chandler in the game together.
“We haven’t gotten there yet,” Carlisle said. “There’s probably a better chance of seeing him and Wright together than him and Tyson.
“We have to get Tyson some rest when we can, but [Smith has] been working in the two-big groups in practice. He knows what we’re doing, so if he had to do that he can certainly do it.”
Wright also is confident that Smith can do the job when called upon.
“He’s got to get himself in a good rhythm, but he hasn’t played much,” Wright said. “He’s going to do the things he need to do to get himself ready and prepared.”
The Wright stuff
Heading into Saturday’s game against Minnesota, Wright, the Mavs center/forward, was leading the NBA in field-goal shooting at a gaudy 74.5 percent.
While several of Wright’s baskets have come via dunks, he’s also increased his shooting range.
Carlisle believes since Wright is away from the system he played with the Golden State Warriors from 2007 until the Mavs acquired him in 2011, Wright now has more room to be successful on offense.
“He plays in a system where there’s space; he’s got room to operate in there,” Carlisle said. “There was never that much space [with the Warriors], so he was always grinding with the big guys and he was playing [power forward] instead of [center], so it was more challenging offensively.
“But look, he’s fit in very well here. And the fact that he’s looking at some of these two-big lineups and we’re having some good stretches with it tells me that there’s growth in his game and that he’s getting better, and he certainly works hard at it.”
• Carlisle said there’s a chance that point guard Raymond Felton could be activated and start his four-game NBA-mandated suspension Monday when the Mavs play at Charlotte.
• The Mavs start a two-game road trip Monday in Charlotte. The trip ends Wednesday in Washington with the Wizards before the Mavs return home Friday to host Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.