Barring a last-minute, unforeseen setback, Brandan Wright will make his season debut for the Dallas Mavericks Saturday night when they host the Milwaukee Bucks at American Airlines Center.
Wright has been sidelined since suffering a small fracture of his left shoulder during an Oct. 8 practice. The 6-foot-10, 210-pound center officially listed himself as a game-time decision for Saturday, but sounded as if he’s leaning more toward playing.
“I should be ready to go if all goes well,” Wright said after Friday’s practice. “I’m not 100 percent for sure, but it should be good.
“I’ve just got to go through [Saturday] and feel fine. That’s what it comes down to.”
Wright signed a two-year, $10 million free agent contract with the Mavs last summer. The Mavs sorely need Wright’s shot-blocking, defense and athletic ability at a position that has become the team’s least productive.
“I’m feeling good, the body feels good, I’m moving well, I’m jumping high, so it’s all good things,” Wright said. “I had a good week of practice the last four or five days.
“Overall, I really didn’t lose any strength. The shoulder obviously lost strength, but we’ve been working hard for the last five to six weeks to try to get that back and build it up, and we’re going to continue to build it throughout the whole season.’’
Dalembert in slump
After practice ended Friday, coach Rick Carlisle spent at least 10 minutes on the sideline talking with center Samuel Dalembert.
Dalembert has slipped into a deep funk the past three weeks. His production is down, his body language is bad, and his play on the court has suffered.
Dalembert started the first 10 games this season, then came off the bench on Nov. 18 against Philadelphia. He hasn’t started the past four games. So, how is he handling the demotion?
“He’s handled it well,” Carlisle said. “The night I sat him against Philly — and I thought that was a good move — he couldn’t have been more cooperative and encouraging of the reasons and all that kind of stuff.
“It turned out he was the best player to play that night. I put him in as the second or third [center].”
Against Philadelphia, Dalembert was 3 of 6 from the field with eight points, a season-high 14 rebounds and three blocks. But over the last five games he’s had only three field goals in 16 attempts, 11 points, 25 rebounds and three blocks.
In that time, the Mavs have mainly gone with the shorter DeJuan Blair and inexperienced Bernard James at center. Carlisle admits they really need the 6-11, 250-pound Dalembert to come around.
“He’s our guy with the most length that can impact the game defensively at the rim the best,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got to have him ready to play.”