Mavs’ Carlisle Rolls With Plan B, Revolving Roster


 Rick Carlisle earned his reputation as one of the game’s top coaches by bending, flexing and adjusting all the way to a six-game championship take-down of the Miami Heat in 2011.

Recall 5-foot-10 point guard J.J. Barea as an NBA Finals starting shooting guard?

The Dallas Mavericks have since gone 77-72 and haven’t won another playoff game. And despite a roster that’s read like a well-worn Rolodex, Carlisle has seemed only to enhance his image as an elite tactician and motivator. Carlisle’s agility will be put to the test again this season in guiding a team that again barely resembles the one that preceded it.

From the 2010-11 championship team only Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion remain. From the revamped squad insufficiently stocked to defend the title, add only Brandan Wright and Vince Carter as keepers. And from last season, add draft picks Jae Crowder and Bernard James. It’s doubtful any coach, especially one that won a ring with the same franchise just three Junes ago, has witnessed such roster upheaval in three consecutive offseasons, and particularly so in these back-to-back summers.

“Back-to-back, probably not,” Carlisle admitted. “But look, we’re living in a different time. We’re living in a time now where there’s going to be more one-year deals, there’s going to be more turnover, so everybody adjusts to the dynamics of the new CBA, and I don’t know that that’s going to happen for another year or two, at least. That said, if you’re going to be a head coach in this league you’ve got to be very open-minded, you’ve got to be open to change and adaptation. You always want continuity, but you’re not always going to have it.”

The Mavs suffered the indignity of a lockout and the ratification of a game-changing collective bargaining agreement on the heels of their championship parade. On the fly, owner Mark Cuban championed new roster-building strategies that entailed allowing key members of his title team to walk. Plan A, to create cap space and lure max-dollar free agents to crowbar Nowitzki’s championship window, hasn’t panned out and Dallas has instead scrambled the last two summers to produce competitive rosters.

That can be a disheartening road for a coach who is just one of four currently in the league with a ring. Carlisle, though, has consistently endorsed his boss’ decisions. Entering his sixth season in Dallas and the second year of his second four-year contract, Carlisle seems to embrace the challenges he inherits under Plan B. Of the four active championship coaches — including Miami’s Erik Spoelstra, San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers, now in charge of the Clippers — Carlisle’s task is by far fraught with the most uncertainties.

“I just made a conscious decision that I’m not going to be a coach that’s limited to a certain system,” Carlisle said. “I’m hanging my hat on my ability to adapt each year to potentially a roster that’s quite different, and with the new CBA we’re going to have more of that in this league. I’ve done a lot of it in my career leading up to now anyway, so it’s always challenging in those situations, but it’s also exciting.”

Just look at the players that have come through Dallas since the lockout ended: Kalenna Azubuike, Yi Jianlian, Lamar Odom, Delonte WestSean Williams, Eddy Curry, Troy Murphy, Elton Brand, Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo, Chris Kaman, Jared Cunningham, Derek Fisher, Mike James, Dahntay Jones, Anthony Morrow, Chris Wright, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Justin Dentmon and Josh Akognon.

And here’s the players new to Dallas for this season: Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon, Devin Harris, Wayne Ellington, Samuel Dalembert, DeJuan Blair, Gal Mekel, plus draft picks Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo.

Last week Cuban set the bar for this team: The playoffs, and capable of doing damage once there. Carlisle didn’t flinch.

“I think you have to view it that way,” Carlisle said. “And, you’ve got to be careful. You’ve got to eliminate the external noise and the doubters and the naysayers and all that kind of stuff. You’ve got to have just a real positive enthusiasm and focus on your group, and you’ve got to see in your mind how they can get better. Then you’ve got to facilitate that.”

Among Dallas media, at least, Carlisle was hailed as a Coach of the Year candidate for guiding last season’s mismatched squad out of a 13-23 hole, one dug mostly without Nowitzki. Dallas finished 28-18 and was in the thick of the playoff chase almost until the end.

“Actually, I think Rick’s system is just very comprehensive and he lets the players pick up as much of it as they can and so I think rather than try to force-feed things that they might not be able to do, Rick, I think, is more accommodating,” Cuban said. “But I don’t think he really changes his system, per se, or changes what he does. I think he just recognizes the skill set of his players. Like, he went from calling plays to just playing ‘flow’ all the time [with Jason Kidd]. That’s his preference more than anything else, just let guys play basketball, and hopefully that’s what we’re going to be able to do a lot more of whereas last year we had to call plays every possession. This year I don’t think we’ll have to.”

Last season’s backcourt of Collison, who couldn’t hold down the starting job, and Mayo never clicked. Fisher ditched the team after a month and James was erratic. Cuban believes this team offers Carlisle more raw material with which to work.

He believes it will be collectively smarter and less turnover-pron with Calderon at the controls, Harris backing him up and the speedy Ellis being able to get to the hole with a frequency the Mavs just haven’t seen. All that, Cuban surmises, should play into the hands of a healthy and motivated Nowitzki.

“Each team is different, each team has different needs, each team develops differently and has to make different kinds of adjustments mid-stream,” Carlisle said. “All that stuff is one of the real intriguing things about coaching. It’s one of the reasons I love it. And one of the reasons I love working in this organization is we’ve got an owner with a fertile mind that likes the right kind of change.

“I’m down with that.”


  1. Mark says:

    Mavs will go to the Finals!! The only way to stop the penetration of Ellis and Harris will be to foul them. This will open up the perimeter game. Mavs in 2014 !!!

  2. kobe ballhog says:

    This team will be better than the ballhog led lakers, mark my words.

  3. Lakers-Warriors-Suns. says:

    I’d rather be on the Mavs then go on a star studded team. Terry went to the Celtics and failed. Tyson Chandler left to join Melo and failed… Wow!

  4. pritong galunggong says:

    They really should change the owner

  5. TrueFacts says:


  6. Seriously... says:

    I like Monta going to the Mavs. Better team. Potential playoff team, but won’t make any noise.

  7. Snow says:

    I will cut my fingers off if MAVS wont make it to the playoff… 🙂

  8. Rootz says:

    Not only is their back court weak defensively, (not to mention Ellis is a head case who thinks he’s better than D Rose buy he’s really not close) but dirk is not gonna get faster or better defense. Most importantly, any team Vince carter is on will lose. Just like T Mac is the reason spurs lost to heat. Bad mojo.
    Ps, yes I’m a raps fan!!

  9. jacob spindler says:

    Not a Mavs fan, but I like what they do as a franchise and really hope that they do okay this season. I think the addition of Monta Ellis will just make them better down the stretch and help them win close games as they have two clutch options in Dirk and Monta

  10. qdqdq says:

    I just hope that dirk is going to be his old self this year, he is without a doubt to most fun player to watch when he is on form, Dirk FADEAWAYS all day!

  11. underdog says:

    They will not make the playoffs because they would suffer defensively with Ellis and Calderon as their starting guards.. Marion and Wright will have to erase a lot of defensive lapses by Ellis and Calderon guarding the perimeter and Nowitzki in the post..


    01 Spurs
    02 Clippers
    03 Thunder
    04 Warriors
    05 Grizzles
    06 Rockets
    07 Timberwolves
    08 Nuggets
    09 Trailblazers
    10 Mavericks
    11 Lakers
    12 Pelicans
    13 Kings
    14 Suns
    15 Jazz

    Nuggets are still 2-deep on each position and have Denver as their homecourt and the Blazers have better and younger players than the Mavz and can play offense in half-court or full-court.. Blazers also have the better personnel to play defense.

    • B-Ball4Life says:

      Mavericks will make it to the first round of the playoffs but that’s it. I like the Mavs especially Dirk (cause I am German)
      but they don’t have enough to beat the Spurs/Thunder/Rockets/Warriors.

      • B Radd says:

        They got Rick Carlisle… I think they can go deep, you forget J Kidd, Barea and Jason Terry. Ellis will be an upgrade of JJ Barea, Calderon the facilitator and Harris will break down the defense. Harris was apart of that 05′ squad taking the Mavs to the finals you know.

    • Money_Mayweather says:

      Pelicans at 12, were you not paying attention all through the month od July?

      • underdog says:

        their backcourt is crowded and not much interior defense.. there is only one ball for three ball handlers.. the pieces just dont fit.. Evans can’t spot-up, Holiday is not effective fir spot-up shooting.. This team’s skills will be lesser than the sum of its parts because they just don’t fit.. also Lakers, Mavs, and Blazers are still better..

      • Money_Mayweather says:

        I could tell your in total disarray. Tyreke was informed that he will be playing the 3 spot, Jrue at point and Gordon the goaler. With Davis at the 5 and Anderson at the 4, this starting linup really looks good on paper, we’ll see what they can do but this for me,it’is a solid team that can make the playoffs and even the second round.

      • underdog says:

        dude.. Evans is small for the 3 spot, you won’t be maximizing his skills if he plays that position. He’s a 20 5 5 player if he playing point guard. Davis is also small for the 5 spot.. needs a lot more bulk to defend the Howards and Gasols of the Western Conference.. Anderson is also not an effective post defender.. as I’ve said earlier.. their interior defense is weak

    • Hunter says:

      True. For them to even make a legit run for the title come 2015 season several trades will have to take place.

    • Bullwinkle says:

      Gonna have to disagreed on the position of the mavs and come to think of it, a few others. First of all The Grizzlies and the Nuggets are not going to make the playoffs. The Mavs will and it will be a toss-up between the Trail Blazers and the Pelicans. The order you have them at is a little unrealistic as well. I know you have confidence in the Spurs being that they just were in the finals but you have to remember they did not get younger after the playoffs. The Spurs will be lucky to have at least home court advantage in the first round. My thought on the 8 seeds are as follows:

      1. Thunder
      2. Clippers
      3. Rockets
      4. Rockets
      5. Warriors
      6. Spurs
      7. Mavericks
      8. Trail Blazers/Pelicans

      The Rockets and the warriors may flip flop but this to me sounds more reasonable. The nuggets could get lucky by way of the point you made and get the 8 seed instead but I do not think the Grizzlies are going to make it. They will be in it until about the week before the end of the season.

      • underdog says:

        you lost me when you said the Grizz are not making the playoffs. Their still a defensive Juggernaut and have Conley, Gasol, and Randolph at their core

    • caloyski says:

      Disagree, they will outscore more than 70% of their opponents this year during the regular season and they will outscore 16 opponents in the playoff this year–Very Good offense can always beat a good defense at the end of any game— Defense do not score points

    • caloyski says:

      The Mav will outscore 70% of their opponents in the Regular Season; and they will outscore 16 their opponents 16X in the playoffs– Defense don’t score points– Basketball is basically the ability tooutscore your opponent– Offensive jagguernauts will always beat defensive players

      • underdog says:

        Tell that to D’Antoni’s PHX Suns run by Nash and Stoudemire.. did they win a title? NO.. to the Nuggets last season? first round exit.. to the Knicks last season? out in the 2nd round.. Correct me if Im wrong but no team have won a title that only scores points and no defense.. but there are numerous teams (Pistons) that have won by having the best defense in the league.. yes Basketball is played by outscoring your opponents but you can also do that by LIMITING the score of your opponents not by trading buckets after buckets.. remember.. OFFENSE wins games.. but DEFENSE wins championships

  12. Hunter says:

    They should strike while the iron is hot and trade their veteran players of Marion and Carter while their value is still high and not injured yet. Vince and Shawn have played great but they aren’t spring chickens anymore. They should try and shoot for a starter caliber center in Cousins or Larry sanders and a younger def. wing player like Mbah aMoute or even Gerald Wallace.

  13. Mavs fan from Mongolia says:

    Go Mavs Go! Our Mavs will surprise upcoming season as 2011 championship year. Mavs has quite good pieces in this year. Looking for its outcomes.
    Go Mavs!!! We can do it

  14. RJ says:

    This team doesn’t have enough inside presence. Nowitzki, Blair, Dalembert, Marion, Wright, and James just aren’t going to cut it. Nowitzki aside, Dalembert is inconsistent offensively, and the rest of that group is undersized. If they do make the playoffs, they won’t do any damage without an added inside presence. At least Wright and Ellis played a few years together; maybe that will help. But I doubt it.

  15. peter says:

    they would probably make it to the playoff this season but not close enought to win a title

  16. pilsen918 says:

    better team than last year. a healthy dirk will be the difference between wins and losses. not all teams have players like dirk u can rely during crunch time.

  17. matthew mathis says:

    the reason they still won’t do damage is because they’re over populated and have no chemistry. IT TAKES A TEAM TO ADV. IN THE PLAYOFFS.

  18. Kimmy says:

    Go Mavericks. And I’m I’m not a fan of this team, butI just feel they need a big boost. Cause this teams tries really hard. I don’t know about this team. Even with the additions and subtractions made for this upcoming season, and I think they made good decisions under the circumstances they are working w/, they are still a mediocre team to me. Like the Raptors, something is still missing from this team. To me.

  19. Ziden says:

    Goo mavs