(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Earl K. Sneed writes that after becoming just the 11th person to win a title as both a player and coach, it doesn't appear free-agent-to-be Rick Carlisle will be coaching anywhere other than Dallas next season.
Offseason Report: Carlisle's future in Dallas
DALLAS — Rick Carlisle was sitting at the peak of the basketball mountaintop just 11 months ago, celebrating the Dallas Mavericks’ first NBA title in their now 32-year history.
Now, both Carlisle and the Mavericks head into a summer of uncertainty following a first-round playoff exit, with the first coach to bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy to Big D set to become a free agent.
“Time goes by fast, and it doesn’t seem like 11 months ago,” Carlisle said as he looked back over the past two seasons last Sunday when the team gathered for exit interviews following a first-round sweep to Oklahoma City.
“But look, as great as the championship run was, you know, there always comes a time when you have to look forward and that’s where things are at now,” he added. “And I look at this summer for this franchise as a summer of opportunity and excitement, and I don’t think anybody else should look at it any differently. … Going forward, we’ve got an extremely attractive situation here. We’ve got a great owner, it’s a great city, the physical setup is second to none in terms of the proximity of everything, and this is a franchise that’s always gonna be in the hunt.”
Last June, Carlisle became just the 11th person to win a championship as a player and as a coach in league history. Now, however, after four years as the head man on the Mavs’ sideline, Carlisle — like six players from this season’s roster — could hit the open market on July 1.
But don’t expect Carlisle to be coaching anywhere other than Dallas next season, according to president of basketball operations and GM Donnie Nelson, who says that he and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban are both in agreement that Carlisle is the man to take the team into the future as the organization is armed with financial flexibility for the first time in the Cuban era. Nelson also says it’s just a matter of time before Carlisle is locked up long term.
“He likes us, we like him, and those situations generally get worked out,” Nelson said of Carlisle’s future. “You know, Rick’s not going anywhere. This is certainly not the time or place to get into depth on that issue, but I don’t foresee that situation changing. … It’s like anything else in life, two sides putting their heads together. I said it before, Rick’s not going anywhere. It’s just there’s situations to be hammered out and that’s one of the main ones we’ve got to contend with and deal with here in the near future.”
“I’m not gonna get into anything about my contract situation or my staff’s contract situation,” Carlisle added. “This has been a great opportunity for me and my family and we love it here. That’s as far as I’m gonna go with talking about it.”
But the coach didn’t hold back his feelings when reminiscing on his four years spent coaching future Hall of Famers like point guard Jason Kidd and 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, while also taking out the time to acknowledge what he learned from Cuban and his veteran players. And after three seasons of at least 50 wins before capturing 36 in this condensed campaign, Carlisle didn’t sound like a man that plans on heading elsewhere.
“One of my strengths is that I’m an open-minded coach. I’m open to communication and I listen to the players. I’m always working on being a better communicator as a coach and I work on that every single day,” the coach explained. “I’ve gotten better with it and I’ll continue to get better with it, but this is a unique situation because of Mark, because of the kind of guy he is; it’s just different. … There are no secrets. Our practices are open to anybody. My locker room on the road and at home is open to the owner, if he wants to come and watch the meeting or if he wants to say anything. And that’s just the way I do business, 'cause I really believe when the players know that the owner cares that much and is invested that much it helps engage them even more.
“It’s been great for me. I’m fortunate that the three teams [Detroit, Indiana and Dallas] that I’ve coached as a head coach have all been different types of teams. When I came here, I knew that the personnel was gonna be different, the style of play was gonna be different, and that was one of the exciting things about it — getting to a point where we really were locked in on the right style of play, the right amount of play-calling as a coach, the right amount of freelance and flow being afforded to the players and those kinds of things. We couldn’t have gotten to a championship without what I learned from Jason Kidd and Dirk, some of our veteran guys and JET [Jason Terry]. And Mark was a big influence on me, too.”