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What Raymond Felton's return means for the Mavericks' guard rotation

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Felton will begin his four-game suspension on Monday and can join the team next week

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Raymond Felton will finally begin to serve his four-game suspension on Monday, according to Tim MacMahon over at ESPN Dallas.

It has been a long time coming, as Felton has been unable to start the suspension since suffering a pretty rough ankle sprain in the Mavs second preseason game.

Felton, a nine-year veteran acquired in a six-player trade with the New York Knicks in June, suffered a high right ankle sprain during the Mavs' second preseason game and only recently returned to practice.

If Felton's suspension begins Monday, he would be eligible to make his Dallas debut on Nov. 24 at home against the Indiana Pacers.

When Felton does return on Nov. 24 against the Pacers, it'll be interesting to see what impact he makes on the rotation. Jameer Nelson has been the starter all year with Devin Harris as the sixth-man/closer. J.J. Barea has given the team some minutes off the bench, usually playing alongside Harris.

Harris is in no danger of a lessening role. His defense has fallen off, but he's generally played well. If Felton is to cut into anyone's time, it'll probably be either Nelson or Barea.

There's no way to sugarcoat it -- Nelson has been a disaster. He isn't shooting (33.8 percent from the field, 34.8 percent from three), he isn't defending (the small size just kills in pick and roll plays) and he's over-dribbling. Too often Nelson stops down the offense, electing to dribble a bit more than necessary. Nelson's job should be simple -- move the ball when he has to and knock down spot-up threes. With Monta Ellis, Dirk and Chandler Parsons in the starting lineup with him, there's no reason to see Nelson dribble into bad mid-range jumpers.

Only 33.8 percent of Nelson's field goals have come with zero dribbles. That number just has to be higher playing along with Dirk, Monta and Parsons.

Barea has been about what he always has been throughout his career -- a nice backup guard that can attack the rim but has obvious limitations as a defender. The Harris-Barea backcourt has gotten blown up on defense this year (every Mavericks backcourt has been blown up, for what it's worth). The Mavs are just asking too much of Devin Harris when he has to play with Barea, so Felton can help split that duo up a bit more.

But let's not act like Felton is some savior. He's a bad basketball player that hasn't been better than average since his first stint with the Knicks before the Carmelo Anthony trade. That Felton was actually pretty good, hitting open threes and running the pick and roll well with a then-healthy Amare Stoudemire. It's been like three years and 4,500 donuts since then, however. We'll see what Felton has left.

Theoretically he could regain his outside shooting touch playing with a much better Dallas offense than teams he's been on in the past and he already has a nice relationship with Tyson Chandler in the pick and roll. He isn't a good defender, but he is bigger than Nelson and Barea so that almost makes him better by default.

My guess? Felton will be eased in off the bench and perhaps could be used to maybe lower Monta's minutes a tad. But if Nelson keeps performing like he is, it wouldn't surprise me if Rick Carlisle gave Felton a shot. If anything, the Mavs already insanely deep roster will get even deeper by next week.