When the Dallas Mavericks were unable to get Dwight Howard in free agency and passed on Andrew Bynum, many fans wondered just what would the brain trust of Rick Carlisle, Donnie Nelson, and Mark Cuban could come up with for the center position. The solution was to use four players to play one position. Of those four, the initial hope was for 12-year veteran Samuel Dalembert to be a big piece of the puzzle. Now that he has been essentially benched for sleeping in and missing practice a second time, last night against the New York Knicks, can Dallas continue to count on him?
The Mavericks can’t say that they brought Dalembert in without concerns. If you take away his first two seasons in the league because of a knee injury, he has only played a full season (82 games) five out of 10 seasons. His reputation around the league was he can be reliable on the court as a defensive player and shot blocker. This season with the Mavericks he is allowing opponents to shoot 52% at the rim.
Dirk Nowitzki commented on Sammy’s second incident:
He’s been in this league long enough. It can’t happen. It can happen once. We’ve all been late, we’ve all slept too long. But then you’ve got to learn from it and try to be a professional. It happened again, unfortunately. I guess we didn’t play him tonight and will kind of move forward; but as a team, we can’t let that be a distraction all the time.
On a team with veteran players like Dirk, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, Monta Ellis, and Jose Calderon that take their profession seriously you have to wonder how long they can allow his off-court problems effect on-court outcomes. The Mavericks allowed the New York Knicks to make 42 of their 92 points in the paint last night, including a season-high 14 points by Kenyon Martin.
Dallas has dealt with their fair share of locker room distractions since breaking up the 2011 championship team. Lamar Odom and Delonte West were dismissed during the season for off the court conduct. The need Dalembert to get it together to have any chance to make it back to the playoffs.
“We need everyone to be all in”, said Rick Carlisle following Sunday’s game. “Our margins are obviously thin. So we are not going to reinforce behavior that is unacceptable, and that is just the way we are going to do business with him. We need him, and I like him, and I think we can correct this. I believe that we will.”
Other players shared the same sentiment. They need Dalembert to play.