Wednesday night, as the Dallas Mavericks took on the Utah Jazz on the road, they welcomed back three players from the NBA’s health and safety protocols for Covid-19. Dorian Finney-Smith, Dwight Powell, and Josh Richardson all missed at least two weeks of team activities after contracting the virus.
While the team is no doubt heartened to have these players back on the floor, it still isn’t at full strength. Maxi Kleber remains away from the club as he is still under the league’s mandated protocols. However, as head coach Rick Carlisle tells it, Kleber’s return could come sooner rather than later.
“He’s making progress,” Carlisle said. “He’s been cleared out of isolation. He started his workouts. His clock is ticking at a different rate because his episode was longer and so on. He certainly won’t play in either of these two games [against the Jazz]. Saturday, I suppose could be a possibility, but I don’t know. I haven’t had that discussion with [Director of Player Health and Performance] Casey Smith and I haven’t talked to Maxi in the last 24 hours.”
Kleber entered health and safety protocols on January 10, two days after three of his teammates—Jalen Brunson, Finney-Smith, Richardson—began quarantining in Denver because of exposure. Dallas has played nine games since then, including Wednesday night’s game in Salt Lake City. Kleber did not travel with the team for its two-game bout with the Jazz. The Mavericks return home to face the Phoenix Suns on Saturday.
As Carlisle notes, that may be when Kleber returns to the lineup. His return may come after that. Carlisle doesn’t have an exact timetable. Dallas again plays Phoenix on Monday night at the American Airlines Center before heading back on the road.
“The hope is that sometime after this trip he’ll be able to rejoin us and get back out on the floor and play some minutes,” Carlisle continued. “I just don’t know exactly when that will be.”