Thursday, May 15, 2008

Josh and Carlisle ready to move forward

Josh Howard and Rick Carlisle went to dinner Wednesday night, and the new coach of the Mavericks picked up the bill. Looks like their relationship is off on the right foot.

“From what I’ve heard, he’s a great coach,” Howard said Thursday afternoon. “The guys I talked to had nothing but good things to say. I’m looking forward to working with Coach next year.

“He’s an X&O’s guy and he wants to win. He’s really excited about this situation and the pieces he has.”

Howard checked in with a pair of former teammates – Marquis Daniels and Darrell Armstrong – who played for Carlisle in Indiana. Howard wasn’t just interested in a scouting report on the coaching style of Avery Johnson’s replacement. He also wanted to get a sense of the person.

The dinner served as introduction for both as they each enter a critical offseason. Carlisle has begun putting his stamp on the franchise, which includes his input in reshaping the roster. Howard is moving forward from a disappointing series of events, on and off the court, to finish up the season.

They discussed those issues and Howard’s willingness to work harder than he ever has to prepare for his sixth NBA season.

“We talked about what happened and he understood my point of view,” Howard said. “I’m planning to take [my workouts] to the next level for myself first and because of what happened at the end of the year. You learn from stuff like that and I was finally able to put everything behind me.”

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More from Carlisle's Big Day

A few other notables from yesterday’s meet-and-greet with Rick Carlisle:

  • If everything works out, former head coaches Dwane Casey and Terry Stotts will join his staff. In rounding out his coaching team, Carlisle does plan to talk to Avery Johnson’s former assistants.
  • Carlisle and Josh Howard had dinner last night and you can bet plenty was discussed as the two men broke bread. Carlisle reiterated that the Mavs won’t reach their potential unless Howard gets back to All-Star caliber play.
  • The free-agent focus will be on “minimum-salary” players. Carlisle believes there are plenty of good bargains out there because the market isn’t what it once was. The team also hasn’t ruled out using the mid-level exception or obtaining a first-round pick in the draft.
  • Reyshawn Terry and Renaldas Seibutis, a pair of 2007 draftees who have been stashed overseas, will be given a hard look this summer as the Mavs attempt to get younger and more athletic. Carlisle doesn’t know much about either, but the reports he’s received are promising.
  • Don Kalkstein’s return as team psychologist was announced. Kalkstein, who currently works with the Boston Red Sox, served in that capacity with the Mavs for years before being phased out by Johnson. “It’s nice to have an outlet where guys can go talk,” Mark Cuban said.
  • Carlisle put a (half-joking) call in to Reggie Miller to come out of retirement. The TNT analyst won’t be in Mavs gear next year.
  • Though the Mavs are being written off in some circles as a team past its prime, Carlisle warned not to underestimate a “veteran team with a lot of pride.”
  • Though he’s committed to an up-tempo style with Jason Kidd running the show, Carlisle added: “The one thing that’s non-negotiable is we forget about the defensive end.”
  • Carlisle on Cuban: “This guy thinks like a coach. He wants all the best players and he tries to think of everything possible to make the team great.”
  • Carlisle called the next season’s training camp: “The most important of the Cuban Era.”

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Carlisle stresses excellence through change

The last three playoff exits weren’t easy for any of the Mavericks to deal with, and the aftermath has opened up plenty of questions for a franchise in transition. Rick Carlisle was hired to help answer some of those questions.

Introduced during a Wednesday afternoon press conference inside American Airlines Center, Carlisle talked candidly about the challenges ahead and opportunity to accomplish something special.

“In any situation, there has to be an acceptance of where you are and that things that happened have happened for a reason,” Carlisle said while standing on the practice court. “The one thing about change is there is an opportunity for things to be a little different, maybe the approach is a little bit different, maybe the tone is a little bit different, who knows.

“We’ve got to make sure that we approach these guys from the standpoint that we’re going to drive them hard, but we’re going to give them confidence and be supportive as well. You can’t be as good a team as you can possibly be unless you have a coaching staff that’s behind you.”

Carlisle took the podium earlier with owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, who both stressed the search for Avery Johnson’s successor zeroed in on Carlisle from the start and never wavered. Carlisle interviewed with several other teams, but said that Dallas emerged as his top choice once talks with Nelson and Cuban began.

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Press conference highlights

Here’s a taste of this afternoon’s press conference:

Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban – “Obviously this is an exciting day in Dallas Mavericks history. We’re clearly excited to have Rick (Carlisle) coming on board. I think he embodies all the good things that the Mavs are looking to accomplish; hard work, ingenuity, creativity and all the good things we like. With a lot of excitement, Donnie (Nelson) and I are here to announce that Rick Carlisle is now the coach of the Dallas Mavericks and we’re really proud and excited to have him here.”

Mavericks Head Coach Rick Carlisle – “I was able to have a phenomenally great experience this year at ESPN. It is the gold standard in sports. For me, it was the greatest sports organization I’ve ever been a part of until today. The one thing I noticed about ESPN is when you go in there, it is the most motivated culture of getting it done and excellence that I’ve ever been a part of and one of the things that I thought was interesting in my conversations with Mark and Donnie, I got the sense from Mark that he was about those same kinds of things. I just got the same sense that this thing was about doing your very best and doing absolutely whatever you have to do to get it right. The thing I love about Mark is that it was really clear to me early on this guy thinks like a coach. He wants all the best players and he tries to think of everything possible to make the team great.”

“I’ve been fortunate to have a 24 year run in the league of being able to play, to be an assistant coach, do some broadcasting, being a head coach and I sit here today with great humility. I’ve done a lot of listening since this process began, both to Mark and Donnie, and I’ve had a chance to meet with Dirk and talk with some of the other players and I’m going to do a lot more listening before we decide exactly how to proceed. This is one of the crucial periods of Mark’s ownership. This next training camp is going to be absolutely critical to how we proceed forward. We’re going to have Jason Kidd from day one, there are going to be probably a few tweaks in the roster so we’re going to have to get in right and we will.”

“In terms of style of play I know there are going to be questions and I’m going to answer them right now. One of the things that drew me to this opportunity was the chance to work with a different type of team in terms of personnel. I’ve coached mostly teams that were inside-out oriented. The Mavericks have guys that can post up, but I see this as a team that’s going to be more spacious from an offensive standpoint. When you play with Jason Kidd I think you’ve got to open up the floor and allow him to push it up and our wing guys are going to have to get in condition to really run. The thing that Jason Kidd does better than any point guard probably in the history of the game is push that thing ahead. JT (Jason Terry), Josh Howard and these guys are going to have to get in great shape because if you’re going to play at a faster tempo offensively, there’s unbelievable physical commitment to doing that and they’re going to find out that playing faster and with momentum is a lot of work.

“This will probably be one of the tougher training camps these guys have ever had and I’m looking forward to that. Having said all that, we’ve got to be passionate and vigilant about preserving what Avery (Johnson) did here in establishing the defensive end. This team didn’t get to the NBA Finals until they really made a commitment defensively. One of the real challenges of coaching is to be able to have a flow mentality offensively and maintain a possession-type disposition defensively and it takes a special group of players to do it, but that’s our mission and that’s what we’re going to have to do.”

Rick Carlisle press conference today

Rick Carlisle will be introduced today as the new coach of the Mavericks. He’ll share the podium with Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson during a 3 p.m. press conference from American Airlines Center. Listen live on 103.3 FM ESPN.

Make sure to head to after the press conference for complete coverage, including video, audio, photos and a recap of the day's events.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Q&A: Carlisle's first words

Asked if he’s coming to Dallas to rebuild, Rick Carlisle couldn’t help but laugh. The new coach of the Mavericks already knows that staying clear of that R-word is a good idea in these parts.

“The last thing I would ever want to do is use the term ‘rebuilding’ around Mark Cuban,” he said before another chuckle.

Carlisle takes over a franchise that’s reached the playoffs the last eight years and competed for the NBA title less than two years ago. A pair of potential Hall of Famers bookend a roster that’s sure to undergo significant change before training camp opens in October.

The challenge of taking over from Avery Johnson is one Carlisle isn’t backing down from. Despite several other openings and a rewarding year off the sidelines, he couldn’t pass up the chance to coach Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd, and work with Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson.

Carlisle will be introduced as the ninth coach in franchise history Wednesday, but he took time out Monday from his home in Indianapolis to visit with for his first extended interview since taking the job Saturday. He took the call in the basement. Just don’t expect to find him or the Mavs there after he makes the move to Big D. You stayed pretty busy over the last year. Why did you want to get back into coaching and what specifically attracted you to this job?
Rick Carlisle: My plan was to take a year and step away and recharge, do some television work, spend a little more time with the family and get more of a spatial view of the game. I was able to do that. When some of the coaching openings started the happen, I had the opportunity to talk to a few teams and then the Dallas situation came about very abruptly. As soon as Avery left, they called me and asked if I would be interested in talking to them and I said, ‘Sure.’ Donnie and Mark both made their way to Indianapolis, we spent some time talking here and then I went down to Dallas and talked some more. We just got going on the idea of doing a deal and getting this thing done.

How do you view this situation differently from your previous stops in Detroit and Indiana?
This situation is different from the previous two I’ve been in. One of the reasons I feel this is a great opportunity for me is that this is a different collection of players than I’ve had in the past. I’ve coached, to a large extent, power post-up teams. We played through Corliss Williamson and Jerry Stackhouse in the post in Detroit, and in Indiana we played through Jermaine O’Neal and Ron Artest and Al Harrington, so this is a different kind of team.

It’s going to be great for me to have the opportunity to take a different approach. I think this team needs to be more of an up-tempo-type team. We have a great leader in Jason Kidd that I have to give the ball to and let him run the team, which I’ve done with some of the point guards I’ve had in the past. I think there will be a real premium on using the space on the floor and being a real good movement team, but not forgetting about the importance of the defensive end. That’s one of the really important things Avery did in his time here was establish a defensive disposition and commitment. And that’s certainly one of the reasons they’ve had the level of success they’ve had.

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