DALLAS – The Mavericks won’t be having your average training camp. Not with an international trip to Berlin and Barcelona mixed right in the middle.
Yet it is still far preferable to coach Rick Carlisle than last season when the Mavs had to defend their 2011 championship practically on the run in the wake of the labor lockout.
“Well, it’s a big advantage over last year,” Carlisle said. “Let’s make that clear. Last year we were integrating three guys who were going to be rotation guys. When we acquired (Lamar) Odom the trade didn’t happen until the day camp started, or the night before. He was behind anyway; then it was (Vince) Carter and (Delonte) West. But those guys were experienced pros and adapted well.
“Here we’ve got a lot more time. It’s going to be a completely different deal from last year, which is good.
“This is not going to be normal. But the trip is well-planned in terms of scheduling. I like the way it’s laid out. It’ll give us a chance to spend some time together as a team, which I think is good. It extends our training camp with a bunch of new guys, which helps.”
A year ago it was all about a lack of time with just a two-week mini-camp to try to pull a team together before the season opener on Christmas Day. Even team leader Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t in shape and had to be pulled from the lineup for four games in January and the Mavs never developed a rhythm.
This year’s challenge for the Mavs is to assimilate eight new players to the roster and likely three new faces to the starting lineup.
Usually when you bring in eight new players it would be called a rebuilding year. Yet the Mavs insist they still have their sights set on competing for the title.
“I have experience with it,” Carlisle said. “In ’02-’03 we had eight new players in Detroit and made it to the conference finals. It helped that three of those players were (Chauncey) Billlups and (Richard) Hamilton and (Tayshaun) Prince.
“We’ve got a similar situation here. We’ve obtained three or four guys for sure who are going to be in our rotation somewhere. Two of them are former All-Stars, (Elton) Brand and (Chris) Kaman.
“You’ve got to think that way. If you’re just setting yourself up for most improved that’s a demeaning way to approach it from a fan perspective.”