The Dallas Mavericks have been one of the most successful regular season teams in the NBA for the last five years or so. Despite all their success in the regular season, the Mavericks have nothing to show for it except a couple of early playoff exits. This year was no exception. After Dallas made their trade at the deadline to bring in Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler, I thought that made them a legitimate threat to dethrone the Lakers in the Western Conference. Then after a second half of the season that was as good as any team in the NBA, the Mavericks were going into the playoffs as the two seed in the West and looked like a force to be reckoned with. However, just like previous years, the Mavs had an early exit from the playoffs and are faced with a lot of questions in this off-season.
Rick Carlisle joined ESPN Radio Dallas in an emotional interview on Friday to talk about the early exit from the playoffs, whether or not he would make other decisions if he had the chance, his future in Dallas, and the future of Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas.
On not playing Roddy Beaubois more in the series against the Spurs:
“First of all, I love the way he played and the way he came in in the second quarter when we really needed him to give us a lift. He came in and he didn’t just start attacking the basket and trying to score. He came in and played the right way. The first play he made was he got in the lane, kicked it over to Dirk for a wide open shot, and he hit it. Then he had a really good mixture of drives, open shots, and played perhaps his best defense of the season last night. Gave us a great lift as a starter in the third quarter and rested him early in the fourth. Look, when you lose, there are no right decisions and that’s something that I accept with this position and being the head coach of this team. The decision to go with Jason Terry to me was the right decision because here is a guy that has been a fourth quarter producer in a big way for this franchise for a long time. I believe he earned the right to be out there. In game four, he scored 13 points in the fourth quarter which kept us in the game and got us to within two. He got in there, we played fairly well, and stayed right there. Then when it slipped away a little bit it was late in the quarter and that’s when I went with Roddy. Look, looking back, when you lose, it’s not gonna be the right decision and I accept that.”
On taking criticism for not playing Beaubois and other coaching decisions that people have questioned:
“He was our third point guard on the depth chart behind (Jason) Kidd and (J.J.) Barea. Barea had been by far the most effective point guard. Don’t forget in games three and four, Barea played at a high level. Scored 14 points in game three and was an impact player and by the way was a guy that probably won the series for us last year against those guys. Roddy is the third two guard behind Butler and (Jason) Terry. You had to find the right situation to play him and I had told him ‘hey, be ready.’ If we need a spark, if we need some energy, dah dah dah dah dah dah, that’s exactly what happened. It’s an easy argument to make, but you have some veteran guys who have carried the weight for your team and have proven they can do it in the playoffs through the years. That’s kinda where it’s at. There are finite number of minutes and only a certain number of players. Now, his performance last night may well change the thinking of the club going forward, but at present the dynamics of the team and the roster are such that I’m telling you what my thinking was and making a point that it’s easier said than done. I’m agreeing that the second guess can easily be made. Again, being the head coach of this team where expectations are high, I understand that’s one of the byproducts of losing. I accept that is a position of high responsibility and that’s one reason that you get paid a high salary in this position is to make those decisions. When it works out it’s great and when it doesn’t work out, you have days like this where you gotta buck up and you gotta come on the radio with you fools and face the music. I don’t mind doing that. But let’s take the pressure off the players here a little bit. Let’s take it off Kidd, let’s take it off Terry, let’s take it off Dirk. Let’s have people quit bashing Dirk Nowitzki who is one of the greatest players in the history of the game because we’ve had some problems over the last few years in the playoffs. It’s not fair.”
On Jason Kidd being criticized and whether or not it’s fair:
“That’s my belief yeah. That guy played so hard, put so much energy, and is so invested in winning, that’s it’s hard for people to fathom that aren’t in an up close and person situation living through it every day. I find the guy phenomenal.”
On where the series changed:
“I think the biggest key to the series was not winning game two. If there was a way for me to convey the urgency of game two better, that’s something that I wish I could’ve done. How exactly does that happen? That’s something that I would have to think about and debate. You’ve got a veteran team that has been through these situations and we’ve talked about the importance of it, and maybe there’s something I could’ve done to get their dander up, I don’t know. Game two is one of the most pivotal games. Games two and games five usually become two of the most pivotal games unless the road team wins game one which is what happened last year when we played those guys. I think beyond everything else, losing home court is the biggest factor in losing the series. If we woulda stayed on track, we’d have game seven at home tomorrow night and that would be a good position to be in.”
On his future with the team:
“My feeling is that he (Mark Cuban) has addressed that pretty succinctly.”
On Dirk’s future in Dallas:
“I don’t think you guys would disagree with me or anyone listening would disagree, he has earned the right to take some time and think about things. Let’s face it, he has had a tough run here with playoff basketball and there have been some very disappointing endings to seasons. And in the face of some of the personal things he’s had to deal with, this guy has been an absolute great player beyond belief. If you don’t give him his due there, you’re not being right, you’re not thinking right, you’re not thinking straight, and you’re not telling it like it is. Give the guy some space. Let him think about what he needs to think about. He and Mark will work it out and things will go on from there. He’s earned the right to have some time to ponder things.”