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Mavs Mailbag: the last time we ask questions before the season kicks off

The Mavericks start their season tonight in Phoenix. But before we get going, we have some questions to answer.

NBA: Preseason-Charlotte Hornets at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

I think it was Voltaire that said, “God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of basketball.” He was so wise.

Voltaire would be so proud because basketball is here! The season is upon us and the Dallas Mavericks kick things off tonight. Over the last few months we’ve been diving in to the deep end with questions over the offseason and training camp. As we head in to Game 1-of-82, we ask final questions in to the great unknown. Join me, the water is fine:

@callme_Jason: What are the chances Dirk retires in the middle of the season if injuries are constantly nagging him?

Woah. We got real dark real fast Jason. Buuuuut...it’s a legitimate question. Any health setbacks are tough at this point in Dirk Nowitzki’s career, and bouncing back from any surgery is no easy task. One thing seems certain, Dirk will try to retire as unceremoniously as possible, whenever that time comes. That would be very unceremonious (and completely heartbreaking), as it sounds like it would be abrupt. But I also don’t see that happening. What would be more likely, if the writing is really on the wall, is Dirk taking longer stretches off between playing, trying to make it to the end of the season. I only see him calling it quits midseason if the injuries turn catastrophic and the Mavs’ season is tanking.

@MillenialCM: Seen a lot of DJ facilitating from the elbows, has Carlisle discussed using him more as a fulcrum as well as dive man?

I haven’t seen Rick Carlisle talk specifically about using DeAndre Jordan in this capacity (I could have missed a direct quote). But, Carlisle has a track record of utilizing a passing big man from the nail when they have that skill set. This isn’t something we saw much of from DJ while in LA, and I don’t expect it to be a major part of the offense. But he seems to have solid vision and timing. Look for Carlisle to find creative ways to use it to catch teams off guard, with off-screens and slashers to the basket.

@LetsGoMavsFan: What do you think about 2nd unit ball handler, Devin and JJ? I remember Carlisle emphasized ball movement this summer, but young players did a much better job on sharing the ball than these veterans. What’s your opinion on this problem?

I might be the worst (or best) person to ask, because I’ve been calling for a, let’s say, reduced role for both J.J. Barea and especially Devin Harris for a while. That’s harsh to say because both players have been a big part of Mavs history. I just think there’s opportunity to use their time for developing other players. But we all know Carlisle values their leadership and chemistry — especially with Dirk. And that’s not for nothing. That bench unit they were featured in last season shut me up. They were a lot of fun, and very effective. It’s worth monitoring how their usage plays out this season. And hopefully they’ll begin to trust some of the new, young pieces.

@mt3maverick: How well does DFS have to play to take Wes starting spot? I imagine it’s just shoot north of 36% or so from deep.

Shooting 36 percent would be impressive in and of itself, considering where Dorian Finney-Smith has been his first two seasons (hint: not close). He looked great in the preseason. But he’s not replacing Wesley Matthews in the starting lineup. First of all, he’s not a shooting guard. Second, Carlisle values Matthews’ mentality and leadership. It will require major injury, trade, or something like Dennis Smith Jr. convincing Luka Doncic that they have to boycott the team until his best friend DFS takes the shooting guard spot, for that to happen. So, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

@ArthursPudel: What is the trade value for Harrison Barnes at the trade deadline?

I suppose some of that would have to do with his health and performance to start the season. The looming part of any Harrison Barnes trade scenario is his player option next summer. He’s set to make just over $25 million next season, if he exercises that option, and I can’t think of a single reason he would opt out. Unless it was to sign another deal with the Mavs. I think the truth is the Mavs will value him more than any other team would in trade talks. And I think the discussions may end there. If for whatever reason they decided to move him, it wouldn’t be in some blockbuster move. He makes sense in Dallas, and the focus now should be what is a reasonable second contract to offer him.

@Carvale28Felipe: What’s your opinion about DFS and Ryan Broekhoff? Do you think that they can be a good back up for Barnes? And what’s your opinion about the defense system in the game against Charlotte...don’t you think that’s too soft?

I’ll answer the second question first — I think little detail can be gleaned from NBA preseason games. They’re usually helpful for broad stroke learning. And with health questions in most of the games, it’s hard to say what the Mavs may have on either side of the ball. But I do think there should be defensive concerns, mainly when the starters aren’t on the floor.

As for DFS and newcomer Ryan Broekhoff, I was impressed by both for stretches of play in the preseason. I wrote about both in player previews, and I think they both can have great roles on this team, because the Mavs really need them contributing off the bench. Wing depth is hurting this season. DFS needs to prove his outside shot is consistent, and Broekhoff needs to contribute outside of shooting. If they can, Rick will give them time.

@coreywolfen: How long do you think it will take for fans to get restless about Doncic not being the primary ball handler?

This is a solid question because it taps in to the ills of most diehard fanbases: immediately being restless or impatient with new things. I think if Doncic continues to impress, people who are down on Dennis Smith Jr. may grow impatient quickly. But we saw a lot of DSJ off-ball in the preseason games, and I think Carlisle will be creative throwing out a variety of looks with those two. NOW...for those lineups where Barea is the de facto point and Doncic is relegated to the corner? I’ll be the first in line to riot.

**Winning Question of the Week:

@BarmEArmE: I’m heading to my first home game (I live in Australia) against MIN on the 20th. Do you have any advice or must do things on game day?

I’m deferring here to one of our Dallas residents in Doyle Rader. Getting to to the American Airlines Center for the first time to see the team at home is special. Especially this season, with new additions and aspirations. But before you head there, Doyle suggests heading over to the State Fair of Texas. It’s the final weekend for the fair, and if you’ve never been, there’s really no way to adequately describe it. It’s sort of all the best and worst of American food and entertainment, and I’ll leave it at that. Plus, it’s not far from the AAC. Enjoy for all of us across the country!