Saturday, May 10, 2008

Nelson: Carlisle exactly what Mavs wanted

From the first time they sat down to talk, Donnie Nelson knew the Mavericks had their man. The interviews that followed just reinforced what the team’s president of basketball operations felt down deep.

Rick Carlisle and the Mavs were a fit.

“He was our top choice,” Nelson said Saturday. “We had him in our sights from the start. The combination of what he brings to the table was exactly what we were looking for.

“Once we got started, the interview process was almost exactly what we thought it would be. He’s a coach who’s growing. He’s learned at every stop along the way. He’s a young coach with a lot of experiences and we’ll see the best of Rick here.”

Dallas is the third coaching job for the 48-year-old Carlisle, and issues followed the 2002 Coach of the Year after both previous stops. Questions regarding his ability to communicate with players and a controlling offensive approach were two of the most prevalent.

Nelson is confident that time, experience and, perhaps most important, a year off the sidelines have served Carlisle well. Not only did he spend the last season working in TV and studying teams around the league, but if he’s picked up a few pointers from his training camp stay in Phoenix, Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki will be happy guys.

“He didn’t stay at home and twiddle his thumbs,” said Nelson, the head of the search for Avery Johnson’s successor. “He’s a student of the game in every sense. He’s got great respect for knowledge and he’s really expanded his outlook on the game.

“He’s got a lot of ideas of how to get into the open court and take advantage of Jason’s creativity. He also had the chance to play with one of the best 3-4s of all time in Larry Bird, and I’m certain he’ll be able to take that and add to Dirk’s game.”

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