DALLAS --Rick Carlisle stood up in front his team following Monday's 94-92 preseason-opening loss to the New Orleans Pelicans and told center Samuel Dalembert that his performance was unacceptable.
Dalembert wound up with four points, two rebounds, four turnovers and four fouls in 10:46 uneventful minutes. In other words, this was not a very good showing by Dalembert, whom the Mavs have penciled in as their starting center after signing him to a two-year, $7.568 million free agent contract over the summer.
But when Dalembert started Monday's contest with three fouls less than five minutes into the game, Carlisle knew this was going to be a long night for his coveted new center.
"The first thing is that Dalembert has got to continue to work to get in shape,'' Carlisle said. "He's just not in the condition that he needs to be in, and we need him.
"Tonight he struggled out there and I think a lot of it is conditioning. And so in the next 21-22 days he's got to get to a higher level.''
For the Mavs' sake, they need Dalembert to get to that higher level very quick, because he has the potential to be the bonafide rim protector and defender they've lacked in the middle since Tyson Chandler left for the New York Knicks via free agency after guiding Dallas to the 2011 NBA title.
Dalembert had a legitimate excuse for Monday's poor showing, saying he's been suffering from a sore back ever since one his teammates fell on him last Tuesday during the first day of practice.
"The main thing that happened to me is that I got hurt,'' Dalembert said. "I got hurt in the first practice of camp.
"Stupid me, my pride takes over and I wanted to practice. I didn’t want to take off, so that kind of slowed me down a little bit.”'
Apparently it slowed Dalembert down a lot.
"In the last week he's made stride, as surprising as that may sound, but we need him,'' Carlisle said of Dalembert. "He was here during the fall for two straight weeks, and then the last week before training camp he left and he had a little bit of an issue with his hamstring or something like that.
"I just told him in front of the whole team that he's just got to keep working, because we need his minutes. They're going to be very important to us.
"When he's in shape he's a factor as a rim protector and a rebounder, and he gives you a big active athletic body in there.''
-- Dwain Price
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